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.
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’.
[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.
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.
When I came up with the name for this post I had a good, hearty giggle to myself. I know I’m a lame-o, but say “Battlesip” quickly and it sounds like you have a lisp. Hey, come on. I thought it was clever! Small things really do entertain my small mind on a cold and wet wintery evening.
Recap: Elio is my grandfather, my Nonno. For someone who is known around his hometown as the man with a perpetual smile on his face, I can only hope to be as content as he is one day. These are simply the stories that he has recounted to me with a twinkle in his eye and that I hope to keep alive by writing them down.
THE NONNO DIARIES
To read ‘Chapter One – The Journey Over’ click here.
To read ‘Chapter Two – School & The Depression Era‘ click here.
To read ‘Chapter Three – The War Years’ click here