Ah, Yes…Italy

So for dinner we are thawing out one of the calzones we made and then froze? Awesome! Now it is time to figure out the wine paring. We have a great deal of reds in storage and we decide we want a Sangiovese to pair the calzone with and now the dilemma. We don’t have a Sangiovese in storage. Are you kidding me? We don’t have a Sangiovese? Well, that is not exactly true. There is one bottle, but it will have to wait one more year to be opened. That’s another story for another time.

What having only one specific bottle and by it having a purpose really means is a trip to Mid-Columbia Wine and Spirits to spend some money. That’s what. Sangiovese has a special place in our hearts that is true. V says, “We fell in love over Sangiovese.” I don’t know about that. Keith Richards said in his recent book, Life, “Memories are fiction, where your version of a shared experience is different than my own.” Hmmm, he may be onto something there. In my sometimes skewed and somewhat revisionist view of how things went for us, V was already in love, it took me a bit more time to get there. The shared experience of drinking two bottles of Chateau Ste. Michelle 2001 Sangiovese on the lawn at the Chateau’s venue in Woodinville during an Anita Baker concert certainly helped push me over the edge, I must admit. Having a double blind Sangiovese tasting with 5 other couples as our first hosted wine tasting event certainly didn’t hurt either, I must admit as well.

We are now at the wine shop and trying to make a decision. We normally gravitate to the Chateau Ste. Michelle section when we have a hankering for this varietal, hoping against all hope that the wine will be there. This however, has always been an exercise in futility for us and this time is no exception. The Chateau stopped making Sangiovese, sadly. Without even asking us! Imagine that! We were told something about the varietal being a bit finicky or something to that effect. Oh well, life, and love, goes on. Indeed both have for us and now we must move on as well, back to the task at hand.

We look at several wines; nothing is clicking with us and creating the sense of adventure that we were hoping for. Most everything on the shelf seems to us like we are “settling.” “It shouldn’t be this hard” I say. We meander through the aisles and find ourselves in the Italian section. How did that happen? I’m a diehard Washington Wine fellow, after all. Looking at the placards on the shelf describing the various wine starts to plant a seed of adventure and all of a sudden I am absorbed in the hunt. Maybe it is time to get a taste of this varietal from the dirt where it originated from. Maybe, just maybe there will be a bottle that says to the both of us, “I’m the one.”

The maybes turn into possibilities which turns into actually picking one that doesn’t feel like “settling” the placard reads:
“Wine Advocate – 91 Pts.
Soft caressing wine with attractive floral red fruits and sweet spices on a medium bodied frame.”

I am thinking, “That reads as if someone knew V and described her in one sentence. How can we not at least give it a (s)whirl? Why wouldn’t we want to try it at least once?”

V presents others to me and looks questioning, but I am fixated by the Poggio Antico 2007 rosso di montalcino. The price is $22.95 which is normally where our budget is, especially for something we might end up pouring down the drain. We’ve done that, more than once, and by any stretch of the imagination those were not joyous times.

V senses I am not budging on the selection. She lets me win once in a while just to keep me in the game. We get the bottle home and immediately start researching the wine producer, Poggio Antico, location of the estate, and history as well. The internet is a wonderful thing when it comes to activities such as this. A portion of our search revealed:

This is a wine that is not aged as long as the famous Brunello, allowing the producers to generate cash flow. However, in years where there is a shortage of the Sangiovese grapes all the grapes get allocated to the Brunello. I am thinking that is why you don’t always see this wine on shelves. Brunello lovers don’t like this wine and tend to give it a pooh-pooh, the wine snobs that they are. We also discovered there was a scandal in which some producers were suspected of adding merlot or syrah to give it a darker color and more “drinkability.”

Research time is over and now on to the more sensory part of our tryout. The anticipation rising and the heart rate is up just a bit now. With the cork going “Pop!” there is no turning back now. A sniff of the cork reveals no evidence of “corkage” or taint. We are fully engaged now. A small portion of wine is poured into the glasses. Sangiovese is a lighter hue than most of the varietals and the visual inspection of the rosso di montalcino reveals the coloration as holding true to form, maybe just a bit darker than the ones we are used to from Washington State. The color is true edge to edge as well. It is now time for our first inhale of the wine. “Beautiful” V says. I say the word too because I know we are not having to dump $23.00 down the drain. A wine with that aroma will certainly not be gracing the plumbing this day. I think that is the definition of pragmatic.

We “Clink”, as we always do. Swirl the contents to incorporate some oxygen, have another smell, and then the taste….

At this moment a partial clip of a song from Chris Rea starts playing in my head, “…ah, yes…Italy…”

Poggio Antico

Poggio Antico

With a couple more swirls and sips the glasses are empty, yet call out for more. These are exceptionally intelligent glasses to say the least.

The ruby red wine is not tannic, has a medium body, very pleasant, and finishes nicely. V says she gets a bit of “cherry” and other fruit. With my last sip I look at V and think someone who knew their stuff wrote that placard.

The calzone has been in our little convection oven all the while we have been exploring Italy. One part of Italy anyways, and one small part, Central Tuscany, at that. As stated earlier those intelligent glasses are yearning to be filled, and the golden exquisite pocket now is perfection.

The calzones are not always the same, this time we made them with:
Three cheeses; Ricotta mixed with basil pesto, Mozzarella, and Parmesan
Three meats; Pepperoni, Hot Italian Sausage, and diced Ham
and some roasted red pepper

To assemble them we layered cheese, meat. cheese…you get the drift

Enough of that…

As I said at the outset, V&I make about six or so of these things, split one then put the rest in the freezer to enjoy at some future date when the mood strikes us. We are grateful today was one of those days. Additional wine is poured into the waiting glasses and the more air this wine has enhances its flavor. The calzone is placed on the plates with a little ramekin of homemade marinara for dipping. This meal and wine combination seems to be quite a good way to complete this first day of daylight saving time. The first day is a tough transition, it may mean early to bed. After all we lost an hour today…

We certainly are richer for the Italy experience, “…Ah yes, Italy…”

Cheers – B&V

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2 Responses to Ah, Yes…Italy

  1. Kim says:

    Ah I’m glad I waited to finish the entire story because I thought today must be their Friday off?? Then I thought does v get Fridays off too??. Does the world get Friday off and I didn’t get that memo???? Ah it appears you actually wrote this on Saturday and I’m just reading it now…. Next time try the montipuciono region :) yum yum and the brunellos didn’t blow my mind in Italy and that was the one wine I set out to experience while there a few years back. Cheers!

    • benndunn says:

      Ha Ha! Italy is a bucket list thing for us. You are so very fortunate to have gone. We will keep the advice close at hand, when – not if – we go

      See you soon!