Travel Tips

The Elders

[nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”h3″ nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”PURE NECTAR OF THE GODS”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″][nd_options_divider nd_options_align=”nd_options_text_align_left” nd_options_width=”30px” nd_options_height=”2px” nd_options_color=”#f1f1f1″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″]

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a very special and exclusive tasting at the Roman headquarters for AIS at the Hotel Cavalieri on Monte Mario. I signed up last minute so I could join sommeliers-in-training and local food and wine guides Gina Tringali and Irene de Vette for a vertical tasting of Borgogno, a cantina that has been making very special Barolo since 1761. Our tasting went back to 1961, and I felt each year we went back in time the wines became stronger and more expressive. Vertical tastings like these are a great opportunity to get to know a particular cantina, but also give individuals the oppurtunity to taste back vintages that we might not otherwise have the opportunity to taste.

[nd_options_image nd_options_align=”center” nd_options_image=”2017″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_300″]

The lovely Gina Tringali and Irene de Vette

[nd_options_image nd_options_align=”center” nd_options_image=”2021″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_300″]

Me with Andrea Farinetti-He is so cute!

After a brief introduction by Franco Ricci, the young and talented Andrea Farinetti took the microphone and gave us a great explanation of the slow process of wine making at Borgogno.  I couldn’t help but giggle.  He looked about 12 and I was sure he had braces on.  In my ageist attitude I was saying to myself, “What can this little chump possibly have to say of interest?”  A lot, it turns out.  We learned that Borgogno wines, with Andrea at the head, are Slow Wines.  Though from 1996-2011 they used more conventional methods in wine making, such as selected yeasts, Andrea has made the cantina take a turn for the better.  Starting with the 2012 vintage, they started to use only ambient yeast, they use concrete barrels, they are looking back to traditional Barolo wine making, and that is something I can get behind.  Andrea is a truly exceptional man, and I am happy there are young people out there in the world of wine who are passionate about tradition, sustainability, and want to care for their inheritance in a careful manner.

[nd_options_image nd_options_align=”center” nd_options_image=”2019″ nd_options_width=”100%”]

BorgognoBaroloRiserva 1982DOCG

Once Andrea was done, the mic(s) were handed over to master sommeliers Armando Castagno and Paolo Lauciani.  I have a wine crush on Paolo Lauciani.  The man is sexy, and has the most incredible and demure voice.  Plus, he is a tasting genius.  That man can could decipher that type of herbs a cow ate just by smelling the cow’s manure.  Virtuoso!
I won’t make this post a long post on my tasting notes, but I would like to remark on the two wines of the evening that were my personal favorites, the 1982 and the 1961.  We tasted wines from 1996, 1988, 1982, 1978, 1967 and 1961.  Despite being up to 51 years old, all of these wines had beautiful orange garnet hues and remained fresh and had well integrated tannins.

Musky, chocolate, something green, forest aromas, mature red fruits, complex sweet aromas and spices like nutmeg, citrus, smokiness, pink roses, tobacco, chestnuts, cacao, candied fruits, over all a complex array of aromas ranging from fruits to spices.  Its taste was ethereal.  Dry and dynamic, bursting with flavor, still very fresh but mature, very well balanced, bitter citrus, long and smooth silky tannins, well integrated tannins, never ending fruity finish with a touch of salinity.  Remarkable smooth but robust tannins.  In the words of Paolo, “A Symphony.”

[nd_options_image nd_options_align=”center” nd_options_image=”2020″ nd_options_width=”100%”]

Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1961DOCG

A lovely brick red.  Very evolved aromas of cherries and prunes, floral notes, salinity, tertiary aromas of menthol and balsamic notes, mint, camphor, juniper.  Very delicate, like a pinot noir.  No wood, fresh, honey aromas, almonds, dry red berries, something barnyard, like horse sweat (my favorite) It has surprisingly robust tannins, still very tactile and fresh, saline, warm and fruity.  Excellent evolution for a wine that is over 50 years old.  Wonderful.

Travel Tips

Great Books on Wine

[nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”h3″ nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”GREAT BOOKS ON WINE”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″][nd_options_divider nd_options_align=”nd_options_text_align_left” nd_options_width=”30px” nd_options_height=”2px” nd_options_color=”#f1f1f1″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″]

In the interests of keeping this blog going after a brief taco eating hiatus, I just wanted to share some of my favorite wine books that I think offer a lot for both the novice and expert

 Let me say, however, that I think the only way to ever really get to know wine is to actually drink it.  That being said, reading about wine from another’s perspective can really teach us a lot about what we do not already know and affirm what we do.

[nd_options_image nd_options_align=”center” nd_options_image=”2003″ nd_options_width=”60%”]

The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil is the book I most often use for research or to look something up. It is kind of like an encyclopedia except it is divided into regions. The introduction is essential reading for the beginners as it has tons of information on everything from history to winemaking to wine culture itself. I find myself coming back to the introduction over and over again. This book has been particularly helpful for me when I am researching non Italian winemaking regions. Anyone who studies wine knows that Burgundy is the greatest and most difficult wine area to understand, and this book has made that journey slightly less difficult. This book is more for reference than a page turner. Useful for any wine library.

[nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_align=”center” nd_options_image=”2009″ nd_options_width=”60%”]

Great book for wine tasting basics

When I studied wine I studied in italiano so not only did I have to translate what I was learning into English, I had to study everything twice;  once in Italian and once in English to make sure everything sunk in.  I accumulated a million books on wine and tasting during my studies, and I would say at least 1/3 of them are on tasting.  Tasting seems pretty simple, right?  Look, smell and taste, wine tasting in a nutshell, right?  Wrong.  Wine tasting is complex and one has to acquire the skills for it and also a wine vocabulary to be able to articulate what one is experiencing while tasting.  How to Taste:  A Guide to Enjoying Wine by Jancis Robinson makes complexity much more inviting.  She has wonderful exercises to help anyone become a better tasting and to aid those who find finding the right words daunting when trying to articulate what exactly is that wonderful aroma?  This book is broken down into wine tasting basics with exercises not based on region but by major grape varietal.  I highly recommend.  
[nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_align=”center” nd_options_image=”2010″ nd_options_width=”60%”]

I do not even know where to begin with this book.  It changed my life.  It threw me a wine curveball.  Alice Feiring faces the greatest enemy known to the world of wine and that is the industrialization/globalization and Parkerization of the world palate.  This globalization in wine has made winemakers make Bordeaux style wines in places that they were never made before.  She writes about authentic wines by weaving her own life experiences into a wonderful tale of mystery and intrigue.  This is not a reference book but an experience.  After I read this book I started doing my own research in wines.  I knew what wines I enjoyed and which I didn’t, and I began to question what was actually in my wines and how they were made.  This goes beyond the new fashion of organic grapes and biodynamic farming practices.  Authentic wines are wines that are the definition of terroir driven wines.  Wines I like.  I want to know the winemaker, the land, and I want the wine to tell a story.  Only, I wish I could tell a story as well as Ms. Feiring in The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization