Sunday, January 30, 2011

Burn's supper, haggis and Scottish reels, Osteria dell'Arco, the Ravilians live

30 January, 2011
It's pruning time for the vines and currently we have finished with the newest vines, the hybrid Bruni 54, the Merlot and about a fourth of the Pecorino.  That little job should take about 2 more weeks, then we go back and tear out the branches that are cut.
The winery is getting the finishing touches on the walls upstairs and bathroom fixtures have been chosen.  The custom windows are being manufactured as well.
We have chosen bottle shapes for the wines to be bottled and are working on labels for the wine, with the thought they will be photo labels.
I actually escaped the confines of  Nascondiglio di Bacco for a couple of nights in a row.  Friday night, I combined a dinner at Osteria dell'Arco in Magliano di Tenna which is a great place for a dinner based on wonderful grilled meats cooked in the open fire in the dining room.  I enjoyed a steak of marchigiani beef and as an appetizer a rabbit "porchetta".  The little walled town is a little gem to explore during the daylight hours and is a couple of valleys to our north.
From there, I headed up to Montegranaro to listen to the Ravilians, a group who plays everything from Radiohead, Coldplay to Chris Isaak and has my friend Sigismondo on keyboards who's day job is owner of my favorite San Benedetto restaurant, Degusteria del Gigante.
And now on to the spectacular Burn's night which is a festival celebrated by the Scots and Robert Burns fans all over the world, traditionally on either January 25th or January 29th.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to this event in Lapedona, again a bit north of us at the house of Graeme and Sarah Muir.  I was un-kilted, but sported my Campbell tartan tie revealing my 1/8 Scottish heritage.  Tim and Graeme however had the full outfit covered for the rest of us and Graeme wore his while traveling from London to Ancona on Ryanair, quite a problem for security with all the metal, I am sure.

The evening started out with smoked salmon on toast and Prosecco, segued into a reciting of the Selkirk grace,

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.
Next we had Cock-a-Leekie soup prepared by Tim and Gina before standing for the Entrance of the Haggis!

Haggis is one of those things you read about and then swear you will never try it, but if you steal yourself with enough wine beforehand and maybe a couple of little shots of whiskey, it seems edible enough.  This course is served with sides of tatties and neeps and since it is a night celebrating Burns, there must be a reading before enjoying this traditional Scottish dish and it is called logically enough "Address to a haggis"
Subsequently there are toasts to the hosts, the toast to the "Lassies" followed by their response or toast to the "Laddies" expertly prepared and read by husband and wife team, Tim and Gina.  Each guest gave a reading with their take of a Scottish accent, mine was critiqued as being a bit of Irish and a bit of Scottish.

 The italians present did a fine job with their readings full of aspirated "h's" which are non existent in the italian language.  It was all great fun and then our hosts put on the Scottish music and taught us a few Scottish reels before everyone headed home.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wine tasting, pruning season, winery update, Offida carnivale,

17 gennaio
We sat down with our 2 winemakers for a 2 hour tasting of our various wines which have been sleeping plus or minus int their stainless steel tanks since November without any disturbance.  We are trying to look into a crystal ball and see what will become of them as they age in or out of oak barrels and whether some merit an early release, etc.  My Pecorino is still improving but a bit funky in the aromas, but I think it will come around after being split in two with half aging in oak and the other half remaining in stainless.  Raffaele's Pecorino is fine right now although, it too will mellow a bit over the next few months, at which point we may bottle it and offer it to visitors.  The Syrah is really fun to drink, very varietal and is another candidate for an early bottling, perhaps blended with some of our lighter Montepulciano.  The Montepulciano "super" is probably going to spend a longish time locked up with a bunch of Cabernet Sauvignon in a 2500 liter oak botte, while all the other reds will be in tonneau and barrique.
So far, so good and our fingers remain crossed.
Tomorrow, we will be inspected by the local engineers to certify the winery was built in a fashion which complies with all the minute rules of the country and will be a time to decide on color schemes for the outside which is plain concrete right now.  The inside walls have just gotten another layer as well and the place is seeming less rustic.

It has been a funny 2011 with dense fog arriving frequently and confining me to the house at night.  This is another way to get moisture to the vines, though, so if the rains are not going to arrive as they do normally this time of year, the "nebbia" is a good stopgap.
I have finished the pruning of our youngest plants, the Incrocio Bruni 54 which is a cross between Verdicchio and Sauvignon Blanc, so when the lymph starts flowing in Spring, they are ready to tie on their wires.
As is always the case, winter is a slow time for the B&B with the rare straggler showing up, sometimes at the last minute.  We hope this year we will fill up for Carnevale in Offida, with its running of the bull, (below)

various balls, costume and regular and the weekend zaniness in Ascoli Piceno before Fat Tuesday, which ends the whole shebang with the carrying of the 4-5 meter flaming torches through the streets of Offida.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Buon compleanno Torrin, Cassoulet e Bacco con suo figlio

8 Gennaio 2011
Today is my son's 31 birthday, wishing him the best in Thailand!  Bacco is shown here with his love child.  Pongo is about a year and a half now.  Daddy Bacco in the foreground got his shots today and weighed in at 36 kg, (79lbs) all muscle, fortunately.  Since the Doblo got smashed up, he has been suffering in my z4 and begging me to get him another van.
Yesterday Bacco and I hiked above Ascoli, site of more than a couple of hermits back 6-700 years ago and we explored around their grottoes.
Today has been a day to cook Cassoulet, a hearty winter dish which always puts in mind my friend Damon, who is the Cassoulet king of KC.  I have put a definite italian touch on mine as I have access to the forbidden cured meats of Italia for mine.  
Before the oven

After cooking with the bread crumbs and Parmigiano on top.
Finally, an update on the wines and construction of the winery.  The wines are resting nicely at a temperature of about 8.5 C. We have a big tasting with our winemaker and assistant next week and will plan out the future as best we can based on our tasting.   The difficult part will be to limit how many wines we offer, the combinations are endless.  The winery will be painted in the next week or two, but there is still a lot to finish upstairs with a very hopeful finishing date of mid March.
The roof is on the eastern part where the grapes will arrive in the future and the winter wheat is peaking its head up, all destined to make Barilla pasta (seriously)
Now, I have to think deeply as to what wine I will have with the Cassoulet.  I am leaning towards a 2000 Hugel Riesling I picked up in Alsace.  What do you think?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Gaudi, La Sagrada Familia, the most wonderful cathedral in the world!?

I highly recommend a jaunt to Barcelona for all you world travellers, if for nothing else, to see the works of the architect, Gaudi.  I love all his stuff, although it might not be for everyone.  The cathedral, still under construction on its main entrance is truly fascinating with one entrance the birth of Jesus, the other side, the passion and the resurrection under construction,  The inside is awe-inspiring with all sorts of symbolism as are the towers with Jesus' and Mary's yet to be completed.  While there, try out the restaurant Osmosis!

Above, the Sagrada Familia, various buildings designed by Gaudi and Guell park and a private residence by the same architect.