Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ITALY; Springs Eternal

Spring to the Market
Self-indulgent to a point, one of the important things about wine is the opportunity to be self-exploratory in the physical sensations and unique properties that a fine glass offers us. On a recent food & wine tour of northern and central Italy, continual reminders of the delightfully integral relationship between these joys of life were presented to us on a daily basis.  The fruitful bounty of this sun blessed landscape, the rich woodlands, and the generous sea produced marvels making each day a special occasion; a delicious reminder of what springs eternal.

A crisp Arneis and a grapey Barbera from Alba; Lombardy's delightful Franciacorta Rose' from producer, Cola; tart, food-friendly Dolchetto from Dogliani; a thick skinned Grechetto from Umbria's Torgiano DOC; and bright Verdicchio from Jesi of the region le Marche were all wonderful palate discoveries that enhanced each of the meals that accompanied them.  Regional wine tastings with agricultural entrepreneur Lungaroti of Umbria and then Poliziano of Montepulciano with its award winning, mouth-watering Rosso di Montepulciano (2012) only confirmed the joie de vivre that beautiful springtime Italy can offer. Regional wine events such as Asti's, Vinissage, a wine showcase of organic, bio-dynamic and natural products afford springtime visitors here a unique occasion to taste a broad range of emerging Italian wines in a single public location. Should you care to explore the surroundings by foot or auto, there's the serendipitous scattering of outdoor/indoor individual producer tastings during the fun annual weekend event known as WineStreet with numerous locations around the Piemonte area.

It is the delicious regional food, too, as much as anything that reflects so positively on springtime in these rich, undulating hills. Here products from the woodlands: pig and fungal(mushroom & truffel) populations are introduced in countless ways to enhance many types of dishes. Year round produce of fertile valleys festively decorate rural farmstands and the many colorful city markets. Fresh, unpasteurized dairy products, yogurts and fresh cheeses enhance the farm to table movement that seems always to be alive in Italy. Ultimately, there are marvelous plating's of delicate pastas with truffel, funghi, panceta, sausage or wild boar, a baseline to crescendo of second courses displaying the freshest sea foods, poultry and savory woodland rabbit(and my favorite, veal).
Whimsical New Age slow food plating with foam essence: Il Postale
Here in these diverse regions there is found the evolution of traditional Italian cooking as well as the advance guard of the new age gourmands, like Marco Bistarelli of Il Postale outside Perugia. There are the high standards regulated upon traditional regional winemaking, as well as the consistency of excellence created in the sustainable winegrowing of Verona's Aldrighetti family. In our recent tasting, their Adlrighetti Lorenzo e CristoForo Valpolicella offered bright, fresh aromas of dried red fruits that carried a food-friendly song throughout the generous and lengthy finish.

Vinissage exhibitors offer broad quality selections
Each day of our tour of these regions, Piemonte to Umbria to le Marche, offered the rich excitement not only of new regional discoveries, but also of seeing familiar things anew.  Wines here are an essential part of the balanced meal, and we rarely found ourselves spending any more than 13 Euro for a quaff-able bottle, even in a restaurant.  Sunshine filled these many days of discovery, and around every corner we delighted in what Italy today offers the food and wine visitor.  Here, the celebration of the land and of its life springs eternal.

Grazie mille, and salute!