Saturday, 27 September 2014

Belissimo Cassiano

Today is my last day in Italy. I have spent the past three and a bit weeks exploring this bella country, from Sicily to the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Venice, Rome, and a handful of smaller treasure troves in between.

There has been much to see, taste and absorb. Among the better are the wine, pasta, seafood, scenery and shopping - I bought a smashing vintage leather bag in Florence. It's very sexy and I'm pretty sure it knows it.

I have tasted a bunch of great wines, from Sicilian Nero d'Avola, to Campanian Aglianico to some stunning Chianti from, well, Chianti. A big favourite, however, was this bad boy: San Cassiano - Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2009.

So, what is this wine and what does it look like in words? If you can imagine a mini Morrissey dancing and jovially singing 'The last of the famous international playboys' on your tongue - mic, band and all - I'd say you're probably onto something.

This drop is made by San Cassiano - a wine and olive oil producer based in the Mezzano Valley, near Verona, Italy. The Valpolicella Ripasso is made up of 70% Corvina, 15% Molinara and 15% Rondinella and is grown south west of Monte Paradiso.

With white pepper and delicate aromatics on the nose, and a medium body that bursts red fruit with a kick of spice on the front palate, this wine is an explosion of all good Christmases at once. 

I enjoyed this wine with linguine with lobster, cherry tomatoes and basil at a great little restaurant in Venice along the canal. As Larry David would say: pretty, pretty, pretty good.

After a quick Google search, I couldn't find any Australian distributors, but I do hope I am wrong because this wine is a knockout.

"We seek harmony with nature, balance between tradition and modernity: 'cultivation' and 'culture' in wine and olive growing" - Mirko Seller, winemaker.

Find out more about the history and offerings of San Cassiano here.

The green Mezzano Valley vineyards of San Cassiano.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ain't that a kick in the head

Remember in July when I said stay tuned for more Come Wine With Me blog posts capturing my travels and wine experiences as I make my way throughout Europe? Well, unfortunately that plan has come to a halt on two occasions.

The first was in Berlin where my friend and I were pickpocketed at the train station somewhere between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. My camera, phone and wallet - gone like the wind. The second occasion was in Palermo, Sicily, where two guys mugged me, running away with my bag containing my second phone and second bank card. Joy.

That's not to say I haven't had wonderful experiences - I'm not even being sarcastic. But what is a blog without pictures? Dull as gherkins on toast, that's what. Nevertheless, I will post as soon as I can (i.e. when I have access to my photos; i.e. when I have a phone). Hoping this is sooner than later. In the meantime, here is a quick summary of what it's like to travel without access to your bank account or phone (this post is coming to you from my Kindle using free WiFi in a hotel in Maiori, Amalfi).

In short, it sucks. I'm not going to sugarcoat it by saying it's empowering or whatever hippy bollocks only Gwyneth Paltrow would say. No offence Gwynnie.

Fact is, it ain't fun. For the most part, I don't have access to the internet. No access to my money. No ability to buy a phone. No ability to phone bank. No ability to photograph travel adventures. Worst of all, no idea of when, how or if I will have a new bank card in time to make further plans before my cash runs out. Worst of all worsts, running out of my cash. Oh, Madonn' - what would happen then? Not to be dramatic, but this is a serious question that does my head in. Alas.

I am, despite everything, optimistic and having a great time. In super short, Amalfi is its own paradise with wonderful ruggered smells of the fresh sea, Italian sun and scooter engines running left, right and centre. The landscape is beautiful with views of colourful sunbeds along the shoreline, hidden cobblestone streets lined with authentic Neapolitan restaurants and quaint architecture that progresses into the green hills surrounding the coast. Ultra bliss with a genuine sense of peace.

My travels: Maiori, Amalfi Coast. 

Next stop, Florence. Hopefully with a phone ;)