As my birthday falls in the month of April I decided to seek out three impressive wines with equally striking labels that would make the perfect gift…hint hint.
The Tyrolese are a lovely and talented people who speak both German and Italian. However with the majority of the population being of Austro-Bavarian heritage, I believe you would hear more ‘Ja ja, das ist eine sehr gut wine‘ in your wine travels through the area. Recently Bibemus decided to pay homage to the wines of Trentino-Alto Adige on a chilly Melbourne evening in the warm confines of Bar Di Stasio. While the group did not dress up in Tyrolean costume, I did my best my playing ‘99 Luft Balloons‘ in the background and practicing my favourite Year 7 German phrase ‘Das ist meine hamburger’ and ‘Mein Leiblingsfach ist Deutsch‘ to the poor sod sitting next to me.
Some months ago I was in raptures during a meeting in Piemonte where I came face to face with a wine figure I admire greatly. He was softly spoken with gorgeous, blue-eyes. His name was Walter and he had me at ‘Ciao’.
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:
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.
[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.
“Super-duper Tuscans gonna blind me
But I won’t feel blue
Like I always do
‘Cause Chianti’s in the crowd there too”
[Apologies from the daggy Krystina for ruining Abba’s Super Trooper song. On a side note, did you ever notice how annoying Agnetha’s pointing arm gets after the third time?]
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.
I thought I might experiment with my wine purchasing habits and see whether buying a wine based on a pretty label would lead me to an equally pretty wine. So I trotted off to some wine shops and even pulled a good-looking bottle from the cellar and put the labels and wines to the test.