There are very few wines indigenous to the region of Lazio, and even fewer from the area close to Roma. That’s what makes the Cesanesegrape so very special. It’s unique, it’s esoteric, and it makes a seriously delicious wine in hands of capable and passionate winemaker like Damiano Ciolli.
His straight-forward Cesanese “Silene”is matured in large, neutral barrels. The wood does much less to flavor the wine than it does to simply help the exchange of oxygen during maturation. It’s a decidedly savory wine with notes of wild sage, wet earth and blackberry. Deep and rich- this wine is a shining example of the potential of Lazio’s wine making terroir.
I will be visiting this estate in person soon- can’t wait to see the vineyards in person and to revisit the wines closer to their birthplace. Damiano Ciollihimself is a sweet, jovial, handsome young winemaker, with a tendency to speak in rapid-fire, heavily-accented Italian. I am already equally as excited to see him again as I am terrified of attempting to translate for him. A presto, Damiano. Bravo!
Post-tasting glow with Pier Busso and Ronnie Grant.
If you’re anywhere near the Italian wine industry you can’t escape the yearly tidal wave of Vinitaly. This annual trade show is, in the words of my colleague Michael Whidden, “airplane hangars filled with the world’s most incredible Italian wine bars”.
Last night while staying at Opera 02, Mattia Montanari and Roberto Ballestrazzi took us over to nearby Le Vizzano, where we met Giorgio (The King), proprietor of a fantastic bar, L’Artista. The cocktails were fast and authentic, made with fresh ingredients and served with an enthusiastic smile.
A Good Barman is hard to find. A Great Barman can be your Hero.
Michele Satta and his son inspect the vines a few days before pruning.
I think this has been the longest break I have taken from writing this blog since I started it a few years ago. I’ve been busy with my new job, I’ve been working with all kinds of fun winemakers and colleagues, and I’ve generally just been trying to keep up with the huge learning curve that come with changing jobs and companies.
Wine can be serious stuff- there’s so much to learn and taste and so many details about terroir and appellations to study…sometimes I have to really force my self to remember that in the end it’s really all about farming. At its core, wine is really just an agricultural product, conceived by humans to add joy to life, and pleasure to meals. Nobody celebrates this simple fact better than the Italians- for example, vino sfuso (vee-noh sfoo-zoh).Continue reading →
I love travelling Italy and tasting all of its regional amari. This winter we found a rich, spicy-bitter-sweet delicacy in Umbria near Perugia. Paxis flavored with a blend of local herbs, spices, citrus rind, and most distinctively, olive leaves.
I liked this amaro- dark, rich and full of those deeply green vegetal notes that really do recall the waxy leaves of an olive tree. This was lovely as a digestivo after dinner, and would be delicious slightly chilled, perhaps with a cube or two of ice.
Some times I wonder if I will ever stop finding the magic in Italy- if my fascination with this country and all of its beautiful food and wine will slow to a trickle. How long is it possible to sustain such an incredible level of enthusiasm?
That’s when I remember that warm, glowing feeling that comes over me every time I step off a plane in Milano, Catania, Verona, Torino… Equal parts happy anticipation, and peaceful homecoming.
“You may have the entire Universe, if I may have Italy.”
Perugiareally is pure magic. This is a city full of beautiful and mysterious juxtapositions. The entire city clings precariously to the side of a massive hills, completely exposed to the ether high above the Umbrian countryside. And yet, Perugia is still secure- totally ensconced in massive stone walls and intricately woven passageways. Precious works of art are everywhere- both totally exposed and available for everyone to enjoy, and simultaneously stashed surreptitiously in every nook and cranny, on the walls of each pubic building and church. Hidden in plain sight. Continue reading →
Being in Perugiaduring the holiday season is pure magic. This ancient town, precariously clinging to the side of a mountain, is full of artisanal producers of chocolate, cured meats, olive oils and pastries. It’s hard not to be stunned by Perugia’s strategic location high above the green rolling hills of Umbria’s most beautiful countryside. The entire city feels like some kind of fairytale palace, all cut from silvery stone and bejeweled with frescoes and artwork from throughout the centuries. I found my self openly staring, wide-eyed and openly impressed as we walked through this warmly lit, hillside city at dusk.
As we perused the main square I happened to catch a glimpse of something familiar peeking through a window…
After spending few days in Roma doing the requisite tourism visits; staring up in awe at the Pantheon, navigating the narrow, crooked streets in search of ancient fountains and traipsing through the Vatican, we were ready for a Real Roman Adventure. That adventure began, like all good adventures, with food. My mentor Giampaolo Gravina suggested we have dinner at La Sagra del Vino. He has been a resident of Rome for many years, has owned a restaurant himself there, and now writes and reviews restaurants for many important publications, including the Gambero Rosso. When Giampaolo suggests a restaurant, you know without a doubt, it’s going to be good. Continue reading →