Tuscany from the top
Much has been written about the Tuscan landscape and the walled towns and cities built centuries ago on many of the hilltops. At 500-600 meters, which doesn’t seem like much, they are comparable to the height of our own Lummi mountain at 505 m. That doesn’t SOUND all that high, but if you have made the hike, you know that a) the view from that altitude is really quite stunning, and b) it takes a fair amount of energy to get up there.
Which makes me wonder, okay, so the good news is that you have this secure haven up on the hilltop, which is a hassle to invade, and easy to defend, but on the other hand, you have to schlep EVERYTHING up the hill. Interesting tradeoff…makes me think that whoever the Bad Guys were (it’s always the Other guys’ guys, whoever they are, and other guys’ guys being what they always are, they wanna come in and take your stuff, and mess you up, and take all your women, you know, the usual), you did NOT want to let them in. Like, if you are going to spend CENTURIES schlepping huge stones up a hill like that to build a wall, you have to be SERIOUSLY motivated, that’s all I’m saying.
So today’s slide show (link below) shows a few of the views from some of the hilltop towns, including “our own” Montalcino. (see terrain map), which, as you can see from the image, is the toppiest top in a sea of other tops, an intense landscape, and even if the wine is really good, who is going to go to all the trouble to invade a place like that? Seriously. I think you can get the picture from this photo from Wikipedia, which I am assuming must be taken not from an airplane, but from the top of the walls of the fortress at Montalcino, which, by the way, has in it now one business, at which you can taste and buy from a wide selection of Brunellos and Rossos, sort of the local Chamber of Commerce de Vino.
Montalcino from atop the fortress wall (wide angle Wikipedia photo):
|Slide Show: taken from the top|
Wine Tasting June 26 ’10
Of course June 26 is engraved on my memory like a burn from a branding iron. That’s the date in 1963 when I, fresh from high school at the tender age of 17, was sworn in as a midshipman at the Naval Academy…i.e., “Resistance is futile; You Too Will Be Assimilated.” Eight years later, the Beast spit me out gasping, a mutual agreement that I really didn’t Want to be assimilated, and the Borg really didn’t want me, couldn’t use me, had no idea what to make of me. But of course that was a long time ago. before most of you were even born.
All YOU need to know about this weekend is THE ITALIANS ARE HERE! THE ITALIANS ARE HERE! THE ITALIANS ARE HERE! Which is to say, the semiannual shipment from the little Italian wine importer we buy from (because they invite us to a wonderful tasting and dinner at Ciao Thyme twice a year and all the wines taste GREAT!) have arrived (first contingent, anyway) and we will be pouring three of them this weekend. ONE of those has been particularly popular around AWG the last couple of years, so this year I got two cases of the Marchetti Late Harvest Verdicchio, and yes, it is at least as luscious as in previous years. Be advised that if you want some, feel free to call and reserve it; otherwise take your chances! (see notes below)
The same goes for Marchetti’s Montepulciano (read about him here , and also a new one for us, the Palama primitivo, which I really liked a LOT, and I think you will, too. See notes below.
In addition (as if that weren’t enough, LAST weekend David and Kier brought over a bottle of an Unknown Wine (one of a substantial number sacrificed for the evening), and it was Pretty Tasty: Dynasty Cellars “DC3″ bordeaux blend. It comes in a nicely designed bottle, and is well-crafted –lots of oak– and what’s more, it is made less than a mile away over on Haxton Rd., and the phone number was on the bottle! So of course I called the number and left a message. Twenty minutes later Peter the winemaker called, and on Sunday Pat and I and David and Kier and Brian and Leigh make the trek over to taste Peter’s wines, and came home with a case. All I can say is, you will like it!
As for last week…
This week’s wines:
Marchetti Later Harvest Verdicchio (Italy) $14
Full-bodied with lush notes of pear and melon, and beautiful acidity. An extra month on the vine delivers not sweetness, but rather greater body, structure, and fruit essence. Entirely satisfying!
Marchetti Montepulciano ‘06 (Italy) $10
Laced with intriguing smoky cranberry spiciness over vividly flavored dark cherry and ripe plums. A joy to drink!
Palama Primitivo 09 (Italy) $12
This is the same winery on the heel of the Italian boot that gave us the delightful “Arcangelo” last year. This one is lush, intense, bright, and approachable, with notes of dark anise, cedar, and blackberry confit.
Dynasty Cellars Meritage ’06 Washington $21
Dan Radil, wine writer for the Herald, did a nice writeup on this wine in January, saying (and I agree) “Beautifully textured with layers of cherry and dark fruits, it also displays plenty of oak and a trace of chocolate on the finish. This is a big, well structured wine that will pair nicely with a beef entrée now and it promises to get even better with additional cellaring.”
Our little apartment was in a the same building that housed the Le Chiuse winery, which lies on north slope up to Montelcino. To get there from the main road we had to drive over a series of narrow dirt roads that meander among the many vineyards on the slope. Every day as we set out on the day’s adventures, we would pass this field of poppies. And every day we would try to take the perfect picture to capture their luminescense, their sheer number, their density, and their beauty. The first week was often cloudy, the light was different through the day, and we took many pictures, each of which captures some little element of the sight, but none really does them justice…
Wine Tasting June 19 ’10
By any standard you would have to call last Saturday “Quiet.” MJ came by early to get ready (?!) for her drive to Woodinville to hear Crosby, Stills, and Nash at Chateau Ste. Michelle. While she was still there D & K came by, and pretty much we had a long, easy schmooze till sometime after four when some o’ the regulars stopped in to, you know, make it all worthwhile. I think we went the whole day with no new faces– well, not quite true; Zack bicycled out from Bellingham with two newbie friends.
Maybe chalk that up to the ferry’s being sidelined with the leaky stern tube, although I am still trying to work out the math on having to drive way down the beach to find a parking place Friday night. Given that all the people who move their thirteen cars to fill up the Gooseberry parking lots during dry dock were caught with their cars marooned on the island by the sudden ferry outage, and given that all week there had been oodles of empty spaces, how is it that Friday night the overflow lot was as full as the third week of drydock, and evening arrivals had to drive pretty far down the Point to find a place to park. Who ARE these people?? Where did all these cars COME from??? I like SO don’t get it…
All the wines were lovely last weekend, as many commented. The Secreto sauv blanc drew many an appreciative nod; the Borsao tinto started slow but the crowd warmed up to it as it opened up; the OS red–still the 2006– just keeps getting better and better, the favorite of the day; and the Darnaud Crozes Hermitage was in a class by itself, deep, dark, and brooding.
Wines for this weekend:
Montinore Borealis White Oregon $10
Back by popular demand! Grapefruit, pineapple, peach, and quince with aromas of fresh flowers
Savanha Pinotage-Shiraz ‘08 South Africa $9
Forward, with cherry jam and pomegranate notes over a backdrop of smoke and leather.
L’Oustal Blanc Minervois ’04 (France)- Parker 93 pts $25
“Lavender, marjoram, black pepper and black cherry on the nose lead to a velvety, expansive palate full of pure, sweet, almost honeyed black cherry essence. Vanilla, clove, and lavender add complexity…”
Seghesio Zinfandel 08 Califiornia $19
Copious amounts of blue, red, and black fruits as well as excellent purity, medium to full body, a supple texture, and enough acidity to provide vibrancy. It is pure, elegant, and substantial.