Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Liquid poetry

The house Red and White Wine is part of the package deal for guests of the Farm I work; it flows freely but is not pronounced. I have become accustomed to its timid tenderness and comforted by its availability, unaware that my palette was beginning to crave something more intense, more vivid. Sounds pretentious, but as much as I have never been the most fluent of wine drinkers (origins, dates, producers etc) I do subscribe to the flowery verbiage it ensues. Although I had asked about wines of the region (Campania), it was always met with resistance as if I should be focusing on the food. Maybe it is a front of house mentality; a separation of sorts from the cooks in the kitchen (the “dinner ladies”). All of this changed when I was invited to join Ettore, the son of The Baroness and a table of wine enthusiasts hosted by Bruno De Concilliis, a local (and rather famous) wine producer based here in Salerno. What ensured was my first foray into local wines since being in Italy, tour-guided with flair by the host. Not every wine was local, but all were Italian and each had a reason for its presence at our table. I couldn’t follow most of the narrative for each, so I began to speak internally about the flavors, nuances, colors etc... scribbling notes, smirking and missing my friends in New York.

I missed the Prosecco intro of the evening (I was making a Zucchini flower Risotto in the I missed the Prosecco intro of the evening (I was making a Zucchini flower Risotto in the kitchen ;) but was greeted with the Terpin Sialis Pinot Grigio from San Floria Del Collio. Its color was of aging amber, almost orange. It resembled a Muscot and tasted of under ripened peaches with its silky skin intact; a musty sweetness that only the earth could cultivate.

We began the Reds with De Conciliis’ signature bottle, Naima; first the 2003, then the even more prestigious 2000. My first impression was of Vanilla extract smothered atop fresh Blackberry’s with an Ice Cream finish, but as it swam around my mouth new flavors emerged. These would later become more pronounced when the bottle from 2000 was decanted. The juice of a tender Filet Mignon joined the party (not literally), the charcoal from the coals still present. Soon I realized this exquisite wine encompassed a savory meal with a sweet finish. The texture much like the perfect Steak, soft with just the slightest “give”. In essence, a perfect Steakhouse meal in a sip.

Next was a surprise. I was never told (er, or maybe I was) what or where it came from and I was without a label to reference; a blind tasting of sorts. It was not yet on the market and perhaps would later be refined, but I was privy to its dark charm. It was deeper, more austere and almost bitter (but in a rind sort of way) with hints of Walnut and the earthiness of soil. Once emptied, its debris remained, gripping proudly to its un-labeled home.

Next was a 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon from Tasca D’almenta; the label showing its age proudly. Although not my favorite, it had the "heady" nerve to be rich and nutty, intense almost beckoning controversy. It tasted like a wine for “wine drinkers”…complicated, verbose, difficult; like a dusty library rather than the gift shop of the Met. Regardless, I drank it with clarity and confidence, happy to be out of the kitchen and socializing with the big boys. Of course there more (many more), but I am tired and as the evening progressed, as is always the case, your words begin to slur and nothing really matters.
Grazie Ettore for my first drunken educational evening since being on the farm!

Editor’s note: the pics were taken the following morning (lol). I retrieved the bottles for the photo shoot.


Margaret said...

Damn you've been a busy bee - with all the crazy cooking, bottling, touring, photographing, all this beautiful writing and now add some high-end wine tasting to the mix! its all sooo exciting! Can't wait to see what's next....

Ann said...

Wow, you really broke it down just now. Sounds like a wonderful evening. I can see that your restaurant will also have an fantastic wine list.

PS - Friends are missing you too.