I limped into the covered market in the Tuscan coastal town of Follonica this morning to buy some fresh fish with some friends. I say limped because I pulled my hamstring last night playing tennis on a clay court. I slid trying to get to a drop shot and pulled my muscle. It hurt like a mother.
I felt a little better last night when I sat down to a dinner of seafood risotto and a grilled steak. My buddy Thomas had opened a magnum of 1995 Jaboulet La Chapelle to go with the steak. It was a gorgeous wine with all of the raspberry, meaty, gamey character you would expect in the wine. It was full, soft and velvety. It was perfect to drink now. I gave it 92 points. I was drinking the wine in between trying to stretch my hamstring with my leg lifted in an adjacent chair.
But this morning’s trip to get fish made me think about the magnum of Rhône and how lucky I was to get to drink these wines. It’s certainly not what most people do in Italy. For example, among the many stalls in the covered market was one called Vendita Vini en Sfuso di Stefano – which roughly translates as Stefano’s Buik Wine Sales. There was a long line of people in front of it.
There was this 30-ish looking dude sitting at a small wooden table – who I assume was Stefano – and after putting people’s money in a cardboard box, he would get up and fill every container possible, from plastic water bottles to glass demi-johns, with red or white wine from four large 40-liter, stainless-steel vats with something that resembled a gasoline pump nozzle. The red was about $1.50 a liter while the white was $1.30. There was no mention of the vintage. It simply gave the alcohol strength – 12.5 percent.
When his business slowed down, I asked him where the wine came from and he proudly said the Maremma, the coastal region where I was and which is better known for such wines as Morellino di Scansano or Le Pupille’s Saffredi.
I asked Stefano if the red was from Sangiovese. “ Of course,” he said. “And Cabernet and Merlot.”
Another Super Tuscan, I thought to myself.
“I guess there is no wood with it,” I said in a half-joking way.
“No,” he said with a smile.
I asked him if the wine came from near Scansano and he said further south.
“Near Magliano en Toscana?” I asked.
He looked surprised that I knew the town.
“What about the white?” I asked. “Is it made from Vermentino?
He smiled again and answered, “You’re right. Bravo!”
I smiled and walked away to buy my fish. I guess I should have bought some of Stefano’s bulk wine and tasted it. But I didn’t have time. Besides, I had a bottle of 2001 Cantina Terlano Alto Adige Terlaner NovaDomus in the fridge for our fish lunch. The blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon seemed at its peak but was a good foil to spaghetti with clams – 90 points, both the pasta and the white.
Jason Carey — willow, ny usa — August 11, 2006 1:27pm ET
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