I have never been to Italy, but I have had a bit of Italian wine in my life, and I think that counts for something. Here’s why: I’ve always thought of wine as a direct link to where it comes from because of its capacity, when conditions are right, to a evoke its origins. While enjoying Carlotto’s earthy, savory Pinot Nero, the breeze in my backyard might just be blowing in off the Dolomites. With a glass of Guido Porro’s Nebbiolo in hand, the fog swirling around the Berkeley hills masks a sea of vineyards. (It helps if I squint.) Granted, the idea of the transportive power of wine is a bit of a cliché at this point, but like a lot of clichés, there’s still a kernel of truth at the center. To get at this kernel, grab your corkscrew for a trip to Northern Italy, a region with a dizzying variety of grapes and rich winemaking history. Perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of the rocky Karst plateau outside your kitchen window while taking a break with a glass of Edi Kante’s deep, grippy Terrano, first mentioned in print over six hundred years ago. Maybe your dining room briefly resembles a cozy mountain cabin in the Valle d’Aosta while you’re savoring Château Feuillet’s delicate, aromatic Cornalin, an ancient grape with only a few acres planted in all of Italy. Corte Gardoni’s juicy, piney Corvina Veronese comes from the verdant hills outside Verona. Perhaps a glass inspired Shakespeare. He set two plays in Verona, despite never having visited. So while I haven’t been to any of these places, I still feel like I’ve experienced them, at least a bit, through these wines. And if you feel like glimpsing a little slice of Northern Italy in your surroundings just pick up this sampler, open a bottle, and enjoy the view.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa