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Relaxing in Ravello and Capri

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Oct 9, 2006 11:21am ET

Having spent a few days in Positano, and briefly visiting Ravello, I can say that staying in this charming coastal town, about 30 minutes from Positano, would be a definite choice for a return and extended visit.

The main attractions on this day were a leisurely lunch at Villa Maria, overlooking the rugged coastline, followed by a similarly enchanting walk through the serene gardens of Villa Cimbrone.

That and the absence of tourists.

I don’t like crowds, and after wading through hordes of tourists in Amalfi--who unloaded from packed ferries like herds of goats and then wedged onto tour buses, Ravello seemed deserted by comparison.

The night before my trip to Ravello, in Positano, my lucky streak with wines finally snapped at dinner.

I ordered a couple of bottles for dinner with three friends and one ended up corky (the first in two weeks after drinking dozens of wines).

The waiter poured a sample taste and asked me if it was OK, and I said no, it smelled off.

He sniffed the glass and agreed, at first, saying, “It’s bad.”

Then he asked if I’d like to order another bottle of the same wine. I said yes, and that’s when his attitude started.

The wine was fine, he insisted, and then he effectively refused to bring me another bottle of the same wine, saying that that was the way the wine tasted.

So after a few moments, I searched elsewhere and found a newer vintage of the same wine which, as it turned out, drank very well, with lively, fresh, fruity flavors.

I was impressed all along by the wine recommendations I received throughout my trip.

And the Sicilian wines I’ve been drinking the past few days on the island of Capri, a ferry ride from Positano, have been delightful.

I especially liked a pair of reds from Planeta, a 2003 Merlot and 2003 Syrah, both of which offered deep, rich, ripe flavors. I don’t recall what I paid, but I remember the prices being fair.

Among the many surprises: how good Merlot is in many parts of Italy, whether as a stand-alone red or in blends.

Too bad this grape has been so abused in California and has such a sour reputation in the United States.

It shouldn’t be that way.

Whitney Cook
ny, ny —  October 9, 2006 1:49pm ET
Italian Merlot is definitely underated

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