Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vendemmia time - the wine harvest

Vendemmia time is here. The wine harvest. I remember the first time I saw vineyards in winter in Tuscany. “What are those rows of sticks?” I asked my Tuscan friend. From the road we were driving along they looked just like that; it was January and the leaves were gone, the grapes all plucked from the vines in late October. My students then brought me a bottle of vino novella from their family vineyard for Christmas. In Sicily, however, the wine harvest starts as early as August for white grapes such as Chardonnay and Insolia, and early September for Nero d’Avola and Syrah grapes. Last weekend there was a wine-tasting event at the castle with samples of local products such as cheeses and “sott’olio” foodstuffs like pesto and sundried tomatoes. I tried a delicious wine from the slopes of Etna and when I went back to sample some more I asked to see the bottle: “Nerello mascalese” I read, pleased by the sound, the way it rolls off the tongue. “It’s the name of the grape,” explained the producer. “I know,” I smiled. I’ve learnt a few things in my time here, and the name of grapes is certainly one of them! “This is the best wine here,” I said, (like I really knew). Some of our suppliers were there, and I knew quite a few of the wines on display, but none of them impress me overmuch. “I know, shhh!” said the producer, winking. Mio marito and I were very taken with the Nerello mascalese and might go to the Azienda to buy some. It was very drinkable and didn’t have that blast between the forehead effect that Nero D’Avola has (on me). A lovely bouquet (as they say), fragrant of blackberries, “like drinking Etna” according to the Azienda website.

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