I had this year's first outdoor dinner in my courtyard in Tuscany last Wednesday. The weather has been so cold and wet so far this summer. As one wine producer told me the other night at dinner, “If the weather doesn’t change for the better, we are going to make water and not wine in 2008.”
Indeed, work in the vineyards have been hampered due to the abundance of rain, which makes it difficult to get equipment in to spray for mildew, till the soil, and cut back the leaves. It’s just too damn muddy.
Anyway, there was no mud in my courtyard on Wednesday night and I invited some friends over for dinner, including my colleagues Jo Cooke and Rosanne Quagliata. Jo is working on a full-production video on Italian white wines for a big report of mine with more than 1,500 tasting notes that should be coming your way soon. But I snuck in an impromptu video tasting for this blog.
I did the cooking ... and drinking! I went to Cordon Bleu in London in the early 1990s and I still love to cook, but I don’t have much time these days. Anyway, I made three courses for the dinner: a warm chickpea salad with large poached prawns, tagliolini pasta with a lemon, tuna and fresh herb sauce, and grilled monkfish on a bed of green beans, shallots and tomatoes tossed in Tuscan virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Yummy!
We had a nice lineup of some of the top whites of Italy, including a 2006 Cantina Terlano Sauvignon Alto Adige Quarz, 2007 Suavia Soave Classico, 2003 Jermann Venezia-Giulia Dreams, 2006 Jermann Venezia-Giulia Vintage Tunina, 2007 Terredora Terre di Dora Fiano di Avellino, 2005 Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco Vorberg, and a 2004 S. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio Alto Adige Sanct Valentin.
I think that the two favorite wines were the Terlano Sauvignon and the S. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio. The latter was great with the prawns. I love the fresh and minerally Pinot Grigio with its tropical fruit and apricot character. It was so crisp, yet rich, and cleansed your palate with every sip.
It’s a shame that most Pinot Grigios sold in the states are dull and tasteless. If you want to see what real Pinot Grigio tastes like from Italy, try one from one of these producers and you won’t be disappointed: S. Michael-Eppan, Vie de Romans, Cantina Tramin, Branko, Schiopetto, Alois Lageder, Cantina Valle Isarco, Abbazia di Novacella, Attemis, Livio Felluga, and Volpe Pasini.