Even on a small brochure map, the Loire Valley seems a bit wide-flung, but David and I are well-seasoned road travelers who tend to wipe through a lot of miles in an hour or day. So when we planned out our trip to the Loire Valley this summer, we assumed we’d hit the highlights: salty Muscadet on the coast (maybe some bruised-looking sea clouds for good measure); a dabble of honeyed Vouvray; a dalliance with the sere perfection of Sancerre on the eastern end. As it turned out, we never got more than 20 miles away from our inn near Saumur during our whole wine trip.
This post is part of my ongoing goal in 2010 to “fix my little problem” with Italian wines. In other words, my ignorance. It’s slow going. Tonight I’m sipping a wine that is startling me: 2006 Felline Alberello Rosso Salento.
This wine tastes like something from California or Australia. Approaching opacity, dense, sugar-plum jam. Why does this wine taste like this? My perception of Italian wines: dusty-dry, sere, almost fruitless, reds that require a certain fortitude and often a whole lot of food to enjoy appropriately.
This wine is nothing like that.
Photo of Negroamaro grapes by Pietro Di Bello
An impulsive campfire at Pencilhaven. Picture this from last night: a close dampness, later turning to a petulant drizzle; trying to keep the enthusiastic dog from wagging through the flames; a headlamp that was dying, dying, dying and; trying to read in this dying light from book of Roald Dahl short stories. I wrapped myself up in a blanket and tried to stay out of the wretched smoke. Oh, and some intriguing white wine from Argentina.
The more I start learning about Italy’s wines, the more I feel that regionalism and obscurity often defines the country’s offerings. That is, almost nothing is a single, consistent hallmark. Last week, at a “Wine 202″ class at Red Slate Wine, I tasted an Italian red so peculiar as to be compelling. And its existence makes me feel once again overwhelmed at the task I’ve set myself in 2010: learning about Italian wine.
First steps toward Wine Goal 2010: Learning about Italy. I talked to Travis, owner of our neighborhood wine store, Garrison’s Fine Wines. I told him I needed teaching. Start me with the basics, I said. Help me fix the problem I have with the all of the things that start with B.
Photo by Ludovico Caldara
For too many years I have let myself get away with something that bugs me in others: ignorance, tinged with the incurious: I don’t understand Italian wine. This is the year I hope to fix this. First you have to hear my excuses and complaints, though.
It’s been over a year in the making, and the most comprehensive Pencilhaven house project to date (and I happen to think we’ve done tons of house projects!). It all started last year when David started framing out the north section of our basement, a roughly half-octagonal space that had, until then, been used for storage of stuff and our tortoise, Chopper. We pull back the curtain on our new wine cellar!
From the archive, a few random posts that you might not have seen before.