3/5 of a whole
Last week I joined Hande, Irene and Theo for a fun evening of wine and oil tasting hosted by AIS. The theme for the evening was Lazio. As a Lazio food and wine aficionado I was looking forward to trying products from producers I had never tried before.
Most of the wine producers I was already familiar with, but there were a few surprises. I arrived late, so the event was already fueled by inebriated people. I think we spent more time talking than tasting, but it was a good time, and I got to taste olive oil from 2000+ year old olive trees.
I caught up with them by making the rounds of Frascati. No surprises on that account. Frascati is one of my favorite wines, but you know, been there done that. I still haven’t had a better Frascati than what is made by the cantina Castel de Paolis.
While many people flocked to the Casale del Giglio table, we decided to concentrate our efforts on the Cesanese grape and there were some wonderful surprises. Cesanese is a local grape that is native to Lazio. Most famous in Cesanese del Piglio, it is a grape that has a lot of potential. It does well in the volcanic soils of Lazio, has lovely dark fruit aromas and can be very expressive and complex. Some of the producers really know how to handle this native grape, and others failed by using way too much wood. I am not a fan of wines that have an offensive amount of oak. I like to get a sense of the grape, the terroir and the winemaker’s skills. I suppose you could say that overusing oak is an indication of lack of winemaking skills, but then again, many winemakers make a variety of products for different audiences. The international palate likes big, jammy fruit bomb with lots of sweet and spicy aromas from oak. New World style. Me? I like a wine with depth and layers. Oak should be like makeup. Minimal use to enhance beauty that is already there, not to cover up perceived flaws.
The event wasn’t a serious tasting. We had fun and had the opportunity to meet some producers that give me a sense of hope for the future of Lazio in the world of wine. I even met a neighbor that lives less about 500m away from me and where they make easy to drink wines and lovely olive oil. Funny that I walk by their property quite often and I’ve never said hello. I volunteered myself to help with the harvest at my favorite wine producers of the evening, Damiano Ciolli.
Though I have my disagreements with AIS and their method, I am happy that they host events like this. Having so many producers in one place rather than having to go out and search for them myself is really useful.
Did I mention I tasted olive oil made from trees that are over 2000 years old? Where am I?
Sometimes, only sometimes, we encounter young people that are extraordinary. These people give us old people hope for the future. In this case, my last group of wine students was so fantastic, smart and talented I wanted to cry when I said goodbye. As a group they were inquisitive about the overall culture of wine and its place in Italian culture in general. They studied, did awesome and creative projects and, in the end, I was the one learning from them. I’ve been a grumpy youth hater for far too long. I guess it is just disheartening that many college age students cannot put a sentence together, seem disinterested in the world around them, are plugged into their devices but tuned out of the world around them. Not so this group. They were articulate, funny, knowledgeable and open to new experiences. Their energy was infectious. These are the future wine lovers of America, and we as wine professionals need to embrace their curiosity, open ourselves to learning about innovative and new happenings in the wine world. They are coming out into the world with more wine knowledge than most 20-21 year olds; they’ve made the connection between wine and local culture, wine and health, wine and finance, and, their place in this world. My students met my colleagues and they were all impressed. As my friend Hande from Vino Roma said about one in particular, “That boy renowned my belief in the future – so good to know there are 21 yr. olds (well, at least one!) out there who are smart, athletic, artistically inclined & talented, well-behaved… and good looking 😉 The human kind shall persevere!” Indeed!In Frascati
If you guys are reading this, bless you all. You ALL have rehabilitated my faith in the future.
Wonderful fruity aromas
Tastes like Puglia
Mr. Champagne with the ladies