Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our Passito experiment 2009

23 Dec.

I am skiing in Colorado, so decided to borrow Raffaele's post discussing our passito pressing.  We searched far and wide for a "torchio" or wine press and not finding one, bought a little one at the local cooperativo.  It is big enough for about 30kg-40kg a pressing and as we had about 120 kg of grapes in all phases of moldiness and dryness, we pressed 3 times to yield about 27 liters of juice.  It is very different from previous years as we had taken out the old vineyard and the mature white grapes included therein.  We used a majority of montepulciano grapes which were either left on the vine and harvested the day before we pressed them in mid dec., harvested in sept and tied to the cables or harvested in sept and left in containers full of wholes to air and sun dry.  As I said, they had all sorts of mold, noble or ignoble, I won't say, but our friends from Aurora vineyard advised us to just throw them all in.  Have no fear, we will drink it before our guests and if we die of fungemia, we won't foist it on the unsuspecting public.   It will ferment with natural yeast and at least, as of yet, is also sulfur free. 
I will post about my US trip soon, but am having a blast in Colorado skiing right now. 
Il momento più 'dolce' dell'anno è arrivato anche quest'autunno e così, raccolti i grappoli che abbiamo lasciato ad appassire, ci siamo adoperati per la spremitura e la raccolta dell'ultimo mosto. Del passito e della tecnica con cui si ottiene, ne abbiamo già parlato, ma quest'anno abbiamo attuato ulteriori esperimenti: prima di tutto abbiamo in maggioranza uve rosse di montepulciano, poi l'appassimento è avvenuto in tre modi: in cassetta, sui cavi e con l'uva ancora attaccata alla pianta.
Abbiamo effettuato la spremitura in una bella e fredda giornata autunnale e abbiamo poi iniziato a seguire la fermentazione, lenta e costante, del mosto ottenuto. Sarà un processo lungo che per il momento lasciamo fare alla natura e che un giorno seguiremo in maniera più cosciente e partecipata. Negli scorsi anni il passito, un vero nettare di dolcezza, è sempre stato eccellente e ha ricevuto tantissimi complimenti, nonostante la produzione fosse ugualmente semplice e molto ristretta. Quest'anno, cambiando piante e tipologia di uva, ci troveremo di fronte ad una nuova ed eccitante sorpresa!

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Labels: degustazione, vino, vita al nascondiglio

Friday, December 11, 2009

Persimmon dilemmas and Poetry reading at Nascondiglio di Bacco

My persimmons had finally ripened after spending an eternity locked in a sack with apples to speed up the process.  As a persimmon novice, I thought it was time to pick them when the leaves fell off the tree, but no, you need to wait until they are soft.  I had thought to make persimmon cookies but feel much to short on the ingredients called for, especially shortening, so I switced to persimmon pudding.  It must be some distant cousin to bread pudding, only twice as good and spiked with brandy and with a brandy whipped cream sauce on top, it is deadly. (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Mrs-Reagans-Persimmon-Pudding/Detail.aspx)
We were honored to have Carlos Sanchez and 15 guests at Nascondiglio di Bacco for the launch of his new book called La Poesia, Le Nuvole e L'aglio which translates as the poetry, the clouds and the garlic.
It was entertaining for everyone as you might imagine from the title and many of the guests read the poetry as well as our protagonist.  I searched out some good cheeses and cured meats from our area and made some bread and mulled wine for appetizers afterward and hopefully made a good impression.  Passa parola or word of mouth is one of our strongest publicity machines.
Getting everything ready for my voyage to the states: 8 liters of oil, 6 pairs of "Wild Shoes" and not much else will fit in the luggage.
I am watching the forecast and it looks good for KC while I am there with clear weather and snow coming to the Vail/Beaver Creek area for skiing.   I can't wait!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

6 Dicembre
It has been a pretty slow week around here, although today I am hosting 16 people for a poetry reading complete with prosciutto, ciauscolo, salami, pecorino, pamigiano and another cheese with mulled wine etc.  Only in Italy, I imagine.
We had a photographer visit us during the week and he is doing freelance work for a couple of italian travel magazines, so hopefully in the 1st part of next year we will be featured in 2 different ones.
We also have a full page ad in Marche di Bere which highlights all the best wines of the region thanks to the wonderful bartering system we are starting to employ.
I am still hoping for a January start time for the groundbreaking for the winery, but that may be a bit optimistic.
The pictures show a timballo I made from one of Jasper's recipes I stole from facebook and made the same day.  It is really good, almost a drug, so don't expect leftovers.  The ingredients at the bottom made the dish at the top.
I am addicted to dealnews.com and doing too much shopping, but I have a long list of things to buy in the USA.  I may have to shut off power to my computer!
I just added the last 3 pics, of the inhabitants of Nascondiglio di Bacco, made by our visiting photographer, Dr. Price from Harrisonville... thanks!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving in Italy and Open Baladin, the new beer joint in Rome

1 Dec

I was lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with new and old friends in Spello where even Arlo Guthrie would have been envious.  A dinner which "couldn't be beat (sic)" was enjoyed by 7 americans and 1 italian with an 8 kg turkey, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes wrapped with prosciutto and sage, pecan, pumpkin and quince pies, green beans, and enough wine to satisfy everyone's thirst.  I am forgetting many things like the olive all' ascolane, but it was a great time and my 1st thanksgiving celebration since 2006.
The next stop was Rome where I visited the christmas market in Piazza Navona, the 3 layer church of San Clemente with the home church from the 4th century, the old church from the 5th and the "new church" built in 1100's.
Not to be missed on your next trip to Rome is the birreria opened this year by Teo Musso to spotlight the artisanal beers of Italy and the world in the zone of Campo dei fiori.  It is hidden away in via degli specchi, but outside signs are easy to follow from the major streets.  There are over 40 beers on tap and more than 100 in bottle available to try with light and heavy appetizers, 3 levels, couches, barstools, you name it.  All done in a humorous style sure to please any beer fan.
Rome at night this time of year is beautiful and still comfortable with temps in the 50's and surprisingly, there are still (or perhaps there are always) lots of tourists.
Driving home to the Marche, it seems the italians are trying to pad the tax coffers with speed trap fines as there are now at least 4 autovelox (radar with cameras) on the Salaria with more sure to come.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Olive tree haircuts, fall vineyard colors and drying grapes

It is time to prune the olive trees and although the skies have been gray, the temperatures are holding nicely around 60 and there is no rain in the forecast.  I have 27 more to go before I finish and these before and after pix give you an idea what is involved.  Kind of reminds me of when I was little and had to go to Roy Buehler, the barber and ask for "short all over, but not a crew-cut".  Alternatively, I could ask you to pick out the 250 differences between the two photos of the same tree.
The vines are all decked out in their fall colors and the grapes we tied to the cables to try a new type of dessert wine are definitely drying.  
I am looking forward to sharing Thanksgiving dinner with some friends in Spello and will try to find some sweet potatoes to make them in wedges, parboiled, then with a leaf of sage and wrapped with prosciutto, cooked again in the oven for 10 minutes to finish it up.  I also picked our persimmons and will make some sort of dessert with that.  I am also bringing 100 stuffed olives "ascolana style" to fry up as an appetizer.  It will be my 1st thanksgiving since the singular event we americans put on for our master's classmates in 2006.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

chili cheese fries, spiderwebs of nascondiglio di bacco

17 nov. 2009
The sheep have returned to our area to graze and Bacco has proudly brought 2 skinned lambs up to the B and B. I am hoping they were gifted by the shepherd!
Yesterday, I finally felt up to pruning after catching a rhinovirus from all the trains, planes, trams and buses I rode to get to, from and around Prague. The H1N1 hype is also here in Italy although I am not sure it can find Le Marche.
I had some old and new friends visit over the weekend before they took off for an Adriatic and Mediterranean cruise: the Prices and Crows. I was able to show them around a bit although 2 days is too short to see a lot. We had beautiful weather and views from Ripatransone, Offida's Santa Maria della Rocca and right here at Nascondiglio di Bacco. They tried olive all'ascolane and saw Ascoli Piceno before heading back up to Venice.
This morning and last night were densely foggy, which interfered with my Leonid meteor shower viewing, but left our spider webs glistening with water droplets. A good enough exchange.
Raffaele just got back from a visit to Tuscany with friends and he was excited to have shared lunch with the Fonz! There are myriad pix, filmettes and who knows what else and you can find them on the www.nascondigliodibacco.blogspot.com blog.
More pruning ahead as I need to finish up the 100 trees before I return to the states.
The next few days we will have Dustin Hoffman in the area doing a publicity tour for our region. I hope in some way the ads get to the states.
Finally, I introduced Raffaele to some good old comfort food from the USA. I made homemade fries to go under my chili with some smoked cheese on top. It makes me hungry again today just to look at my pic.
The other pictures are this mornings arachnid art show including one of the artist protaginists and our new ovine neighbors in the distance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Prague, our yards, Happy St. Martin's and Veteran's days

Happy St. Martin's day to everyone. Here it is the day to celebrate "novello" wine which is Italy's answer to beaujolais nouveau. We are heading over to our friends at Aurora vineyard to experience their observance of the festival.
I went to Prague for a long weekend and can attest to its beauty and charms. It was my 1st time travelling to an ex soviet bloc country and appropriately, it was the observance of their 20th anniversary of freedom. I can scarcely believe it has been so long ago. I still remember getting in the tuck position under our desks in school practicing for those nuclear missiles which might arrive any minute. Now, Prague looks like it has been totally westernized with everything from TGIF, Starbucks and McDonalds to the Gap, Prada and YSL. Despite the commercialism, the city is truly a gem and I would have to rank it as one of the prettiest I have visited. It is well worth a 3-4 day visit as you can stay busy visiting castles, medieval towers, museums (Mucha, Kafka, etc.) and the old Jewish quarter which Hitler and his minions were going to leave intact as a reminder of the race they exterminated.
Back at the B&B, we are looking forward to hosting some old friends from the greater KC area including a doctor I worked with in the Belton Harrisonville area. The grass hasn't quit growing, which is good and bad. The good is the grass growing in the vineyard after all the work I performed to plant the nearly 1600 lbs of seed. The bad is I had to mow today around Nascondiglio.
The final olive oil total was 160 liters which was a bit more than last year, although we did trade some last year to pay the mill. Bill Ross is the 1st to bring the new oil back to the states, but I plan on bringing at least 5 liters when I come back next month.
We had some pest problems this year with a troublesome fly and lost almost all of our "tenere" variety, but the others were more resistant and we found an organic spray which helped some with prevention. At any rate, there is no noticeable defect in the oil when I tasted it, which is the important thing.
Happy Veteran's Day to all who served or lost loved ones.
Here is the Prague slide show; just copy and paste
The pictures show before and after the grass started growing, a shot of our scenery and various Prague fotos including the memorial for the student who set himself on fire in 1969 to protest soviet rule and who bacame a catalyst for the movement for independence. There is also the miracle producing baby jesus doll who has elegant outfits donated from all over the world. I won't say more.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Olive harvest accomplished, excursion in the Monti della Laga national park, autumn colors

2 November
I slept through halloween after harvesting 990 lbs of olives saturday, to finish the last of our trees. The olives were all of a type called frantoio which makes a really good mono-variety oil, our "reserve" if you will. It looks like we will have harvested close to 1300 kg this year compared to 1500 last year.
Yesterday after regaining my strength, I took Bacco up into the national park at the border of the Marche and Abruzzo, Monti della Laga and hiked a bit and took some pix of the fall foliage. Check out the link above for the slide show. Put some peaceful music on and relax. The day was perfect with cool, not cold temperatures, full sun and empty trails.
We have had some guests intermittently recently from the US and Italy and are getting requests for New Year's Eve. The busy season is over, however. Fall has advantages in that the people are mostly gone, new wines and oils are ready to taste and it is time for fall festivals and chestnuts.
I am off to the beautiful city of Prague on Thursday for a weekend of sightseeing. I hear it is a wonderful place and it seems to be in the guidebook I bought in italian. That will leave Vienna and Barcelona as my top 2-to see cities in europe.
The grass is slowly growing in the vineyard. It looks a bit like my own hair right now, rather sparse, but hopefully with some minoxidil rain, it will fill up a bit.
For those who don't have 4+ minutes for the slideshow on you tube above, here are some examples of yesterday's pix. The 1st two pictures are from here at Nascondiglio, then Abruzzo and finally Bacco.