As a kid, teenager and adult travelling overseas, I used to always bring one lined notepad or blank scrapbook that my mother had gifted me. Together we kept travel diaries filled with sketches and writing. They acted as beautiful momentoes of where we went with various scribbles on my end (or artwork on my mother’s end) of random experiences like what colour the sky was in front of that historical castle, tickets of a show we went to, the business card of a restaurant we dined at, or even a sketch of the view at the top of a village. This way of doodling my experiences has stuck with me during most of my travels. It’s a way of capturing the moment with a personal touch. Naturally, in order to keep a travel diary like this you need to allocate time during the travels to be able to scrawl in the books. It isn’t always possible…
Exactly one month ago I returned from a three week escapade in Italy. Two-thirds of that journey were work-based as I found myself at the famous Vinitaly fair in Verona, with the nine days after that travelling with a colleague through five different Italian regions and visiting thirteen wine producers. Considering I was in bella Italia, I bet there are many who thought that I was spending my days doing this:
Bibemus climbing every mountain. Yodel ay ee ooooo.
On Wednesday 20th March, the Bibemus gang and their fellow Italophiles gathered together to taste a mountain of Barolo from Monforte d’Alba. Fourteen of them, to be precise. Special international guests included Massimo Benevelli of Piero Benevelli wines and Robert Bava and his daughter Francesca from Cocchi Americano.
I don’t get out that much.
By the end of this month however, I will have travelled to Bellingen in northern NSW, to Sydney for an association meeting and the Vino Aperto wine tasting, and finally to Italy. The latter is the most significant travel I will have undertaken in three years, which was in fact the last time I was in Italy.
This year my work is sending my colleague and I on a mission to the annual Vin Italy wine fair held in Verona.
I am excited yet anxious about all the movement ahead.
It won’t be all that bad though. I am taking a week off before the fair commences to:
(a) spend a night in Venice on the water, get lost in its narrow streets during the day and have a drink far too early at Harry’s Bar
(b) visit all my cousins in Asiago
(c) visit friends in Castelfranco Veneto and explore Verona or Padova together
Once I switch over to work-mode, the long hours, mayhem and spritz will begin. So far I have lined up:
(a) Lunch at the rice king Gabrielle Ferron’s Pila Vecia mill on the Saturday
(b) Dinner with fellow Australian Italian wine importers/friends on the Saturday night
(c) Tasting a plethora of regional wines and exploring new producers
(d) Dinner with Giuseppe Vajra and his family on the Monday
(e) Finally meeting existing suppliers and tasting their new vintages
(e) The occasional free evening to allow the opportunity for an unplanned spritz/dinner
After Vin Italy, my colleague and I will hop in a rental car and travel through Lombardia, Piemonte, Liguria and Toscana, meeting at least thirteen of our suppliers in eight days along the way. Now apart from being extremely organised, that is what you call ‘being on a mission’.
I do not think I will be blogging ‘live’ from Vin Italy. Possibly because I fear there will not be time to. However I hope you will forgive this lady as she attends to those aforementioned events and at the end of the day, her all important ‘beauty sleep’.
Alepa Riccio Bianco Pallagrello Bianco 2010 & Nanni Cope’ Sabbia di Sopra il Bosco 2009
It was a combination of the inner, studious geek within me and this article ‘Grape varieties you’ve never heard of’ by Jancis Robinson that had me keen to research and understand the Pallagrello varieties of Campania in southern Italy.
” ‘Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la laaaaaaa.”
This is the one time of the year where you are expected to eat at least two over-sized meals in one day, including desserts and panettone for breakfast.
Don’t worry though. Take note of the mindset of the people in this ad.
[This article was first printed in the latest Summer/Autumn newsletter for my workplace. I have adjusted it to be a little more casual for LDdV.]
Castello di Ama is a unique place, a fusion of art and vines, located in the heart of the historical zone of Chianti Classico in Gaiole. The 90 hectares of vineyards sit high up in the quiet hamlet of Ama, surrounded by rolling hills of calcareous soil full of shale and large rocks. This land is what defines the Castello di Ama terroir and makes it such an inimitable landscape for vines. The property is run by Lorenza Sebasti and her highly skilled winemaking husband and former President of the local consorzio, Marco Pallanti. Together they are ambassadors for the great wines of Chianti Classico.
Myself (associate judge) & Mike Hayes (judge) at the Australia Alternative Varieties Wine Show 2012 – Photography by Luke Birch
Last year I wrote about my experience as a Steward at the Australian Alternative Varietal Wine Show (AAVWS) with reference specifically to Bowie’s fourth album, Hunky Dory. This year I returned as an Associate Judge. Seeing as David Bowie is undisputedly the most alternative human being on the planet, I will use him as a means of detailing the highlights of the show again this year.
The phone buzzed annoyingly at my work desk. I suggested to my colleague seated next to me that she pick it up because the likelihood of it being for me was slim.
To my surprise, five seconds into her telephone conversation she handed me the receiver, “There’s a Max wishing to speak to you.”
Max is quite the distinctive name. There are not that many famous people with the moniker, unless you consider the American Max Factor of the cosmetics company. My head quickly reeled through the people I know and the only one who I could safely assume was on the other end was fellow wine industry person, wine writer and mandolin virtuoso, Max Allen.
Olivers Taranga Fiano, Pikes Premio Sangiovese, Freeman Corvina Secco
I recently spent a week up in the sun-drenched town of Mildura as an associate judge for the Australian Alternative Varietal Wine Show. In the lead up I found myself embracing all things alternative, delicious and interesting.
I have to admit that I was intrigued with the idea of two bright young winemakers making perfume.
Who would’ve thunk it?
Brendan Carter and Samuel Eads of the Adelaide Hills certainly did when they began their adventure with Emerald Vintners Parfums (EVP).
I became interested in a career involving the frequent use of my schnoz ever since my parents noticed that I had a pretty good nose as a child. When it came to perfumes, I had a particular knack for identifying the fragrance on passers by. So it was lovely to receive a small sample of EVP’s inaugural range that are suitably titled and inspired by the world of wine.
It was only a few weeks ago that the judging part of the Royal Melbourne Wine Show (RMWS) occurred over at Flemington. I was the youngest associate to join a group of wine industry folk who would spend four full days tasting and judging the huge selection of wines submitted for assessment. Fast forward three weeks later and the fruits of our labour have been publicly released with a series of trophy winners, namely the famous Jimmy Watson trophy going to Best’s Great Western Shiraz Bin 1 2011.
Days spent putting 150 wines in our mouths did not seem so bad when the camaraderie amongst the gang this year was a real joy. That includes the addition of the two international judges Jamie Goode (from the UK) and James Suckling (from the US, who I should mention lives in Tuscany). Hence the reason why Grease’s ‘We Go Together’ was running through my head as I wrote this. We all worked hard, but the results at the end of this post speak for themselves. We did good.
Here is a collection of dodgy Instagram-type photos of the ordinary times, the good times, and the shenanigans that we all got up to.
Aperitivo Cocchi Americano – Imported by Vinosita’
Do you recall the ridiculously good weather we had two Sundays ago in Melbourne? If so, then it would make complete sense why I chose to prepare an aperitivo for my family that evening with the setting sun winking down at us. Suffice to say that I was clearly the favourite child of the family for that one day.
I used Aperitivo Cocchi Americano. This is a wine-based aperitif and vino aromatizzato (flavored wine). It was produced in 1891 by Giulio Cocchi of Asti in Piemonte by flavouring white wine with different herbs, spices, sugar and alcohol. Sitting at 16.5% alcohol, it is considered to be the original L’Americano recipe. It is produced in small lots and matures for a year before being put on sale.
Try the Classico recipe or Estivo to start with, unless you’re a sweet tooth and prefer the fruit juice in the A.C.E.
Having it on its own though reveals thirst-quenching citrus flavours and delicate herbal tones. Delicious.