Vinitaly Sideways 2008 - Part 2
Loris Scagliarini – Photographs by Loris Scagliarini and Brigit Solé-March - April 11, 2008
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Sunday, after the traditional lunch at my sister's home with Mom and my sister's sons with their families, Brigit and I return to our apartment where we meet Massimo and Cara. As Massimo points out, every time that we meet time seems to fly, so much so that by the time that they leave, it's time to pick up my mom and reach my brother and his family at a new pizza joint to satisfy my 'real Italian pizza' craving.
Monday we drive to Novellara to visit with Mauro Zini, producer of ZiniVini wines, and wife Francesca. Mauro is another young entrepreneur who dropped his partnership in a successful business run with his dad and brother to pursue wine, cereal and grain production on a 100 hectares (around 247 acres) property. It's a wonderful sunny day, ideal to be spent in the country side. Despite the current world wide economy hardship, is refreshing feeling the excitement that exude from these young entrepreneurs, which are making opposite choices compared to what the previous two generations did, when almost all young people were leaving the country side to move to the city with its promise of a more glamorous life.
I spend Tuesday catching up with the several thousand e-mails, mostly spam, which have been piling up in my mail boxes and taking care of other business deals, in addition to packing up for the upcoming trip to the island of Sicily, which I visited only once in the 1980's and which Brigit has never visited. We have dinner with Antonio Manicardi and his elegant, lovely wife, Sonia, at a Brazilian churrascheria (grill house) where I let myself go and taste the dozen or so grilled meats sliced onto the plate straight from the gigantic skewers. We open the meal with a bottle of Prosecco, then wash down the excellent dinner with a delicious, aromatic 2002 Porphyr Lagrein Riserva by Kellerei Terlan.
We get to the Bologna airport at dark o'clock, were we meet with maitre sommelier Laura Martelli, who will be our guide for the first two days of the trip. We land in Catania, on the eastern coast of the island at around 9AM and rent a small Lancia Ypsilon car, which is what's available without reservation, and take off to Vittoria, in the province of Ragusa, to south-west, were we visit the Azienda Agricola Spata Salvatore, producer of Frappato, Nero D'Avola, and Cerasuolo di Vittoria, an excellent DOC wine blend of the two varieties, typical of the area.
Salvatore and the consulting enologist, Angelo Papiro, show us the historic villa which houses the winery and describe the developing project that they are planning, before driving through the fields where, in addition to vineyards, there are olive groves featuring, among younger plants, some 300 years old olive trees. After picking up Salvatore's wife and son, bright and funny 8-year-old Matteo, we follow them to theBaciamolemani restaurant, were we have a delicious seafood meal, with innovative, surprising, fabulous recipes which we wash down with a 2003 Ribeca by Firriato, a blend of Nero D'Avola and Perricone, two Sicilian native grapes, selected by sommelier Laura from the extensive restaurant list.
After lunch we take the coast road to Siracusa, where we spend the night at the recently opened Royal Maniace Hotel, facing the water in the exclusive Ortigia seaside neighborhood, courtesy of Giuseppe Mollica, head of Big Show Management. Laura is very tired and, after a shower decides to go straight to bed, while Brigit and I decide to go out for a quick bite at the nearby Osteria Da Mariano, suggested by one of the hotel clerks. The Nero D'Avola red house wine is excellent.
Thursday, April 10, 2008, we have a few business meetings in Siracusa, then, after a brief visit at the Teatro Greco (Greek Theater), whose ancient ruins are still used for theater presentations, we have lunch at La Cantinaccia with Giuseppe Mollica and Salvatore Russo. The seafood and vegetable meal is to die for, with a dozen or so hors d'oeuvres followed by spaghetti con padelle (noodles with a kind of Mediterranean barnacle), spaghetti ai ricci di mare (noodles with sea anemones), and risotto ai frutti di mare (seafood risotto). Again, it's up to sommelier Laura Martelli to choose wine, and she selects a bottle of Diletto white wine by Fattorie Azzolino, obtained via white vinification of the Sicilian native red grape Nero d'Avola, which does not undergo maceration with the grape skin, thus producing a highly structured white wine.
After resting a couple of hours, Laura, Brigit and I take a walk on the strand and visit the aquarium featuring tropical fish.
Later we stop for dinner at the Luna Rossa (Red Moon) restaurant along the passeggiata al mare (strand), where we wash down the fresh seafood prepared according to traditional recipes, with a bottle of 2003 Chiarandΰ del Merlo, a wonderful blend of 50% Inzolia (native grape known as Ansonica in Tuscany, where it is grown along the Maremma coast) and Chardonnay.
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