Monday, July 13, 2009
I am waiting for the sprayer to fill up with water after adding the copper and sulfur. We are experiencing a near record year of rain and have developed a mold in the vineyard called perinospera. We will end up losing leaves if we don't get it under control which means now spraying all the rows instead of every other. If we were also growing grapes this year, we could lose those as well.
While I wait, I will recount my last week which included a quick run up north to Switzerland and France, then Lago d'Orta and Milano for the U2 concert.
I started in Mantova where we had a sort of reunion of many of the master's teachers, students and administration, all together for the wedding of Corrado and Amy. Amy was one of my roommates in Parma for a short time and came to Italy from Hong Kong to attend the Slow Food master's program in english. There, she met Corrado, who was one of the tutors. It was love at first sight as they say and now the two hope to start a B&B together in Emilia Romagna. I will keep you posted.
From Mantova, I whipped through Switzerland on the A2 autostrada and it is really fantastic. If I believed in reincarnation, I would have to say, I must have been there in a previous life and got my affection for the mountains. This trip was designed, howver, to get me to Colmar, France. This is one of the key cities on the wine road of Alsace and is a little twin to Strasbourg. I met my old friend Laurence from KC and had two great dinners at her sister's houses, private tours of wineries with tastings and met the proprietor of one of the best food shops in Europe. I was touring Colmar solo and ran across Sezanne, where the husband and wife team have scoured the world for the best food products. Imagine my surprise when I found the culatello di Zibello from my old friend Spigaroli, who I think makes the best cured meat in the world. Next to it if you want to test the best is grand riserve jamon iberico. Nearby is the rare parmigiano reggiano made from the native red cows which are almost extinct and part of a program to save the race.
I was shocked to see his prices for olive oils at 13 euros for 50 ml. Ours costs 10 euros a liter, but these are aromatized.
He also carries coffee he roasts himself, special madagascar wild black pepper, the world's best saffron and a nice, representative wine cellar. It's worth a visit, if you are up that way.
Alsace is full of vineyards in the valley and on the hills and lots of scenic towns with architecture remaining true to their traditions. The vines are 1.30 -1.80 meters apart and the little tractors are half as wide as ours.
I took a different route back through Switzerland, passing Basel, Montreux and then climbing a mountain pass to re-enter Italy. I had another appointment, this time with my friend Matteo at a wine tasting of the sparkling wines of Franciacorta. They don't rival champagne for the most part, but some of the elite, aged varieties can be excellent and give the Bruts of France a run for their money. The next day, we took a hike in the mountains of northern Italy, before having a great lunch with his grandmother.
Finally, I met my friend Jem Khan in Milan and he treated me and his 3 sons to the 360 degree tour of U2. The spettacolo, as the italians call them was truly magnificent with a 100 million euro stage which has to be seen to be believed and appreciated. Get a ticket when they bring it to the US!
The Khan family then favored me with a visit to Nascondiglio di Bacco, which was a sacrifice as they drove 11 hours round trip to and from Milan before flying back to the states.
Now I am back to the vineyard which needs a bit of medicine. I am doctoring it the best I know how.
Buon compleanno to my old friend KR 14 July, exactly one month older than me!
The pictures show Colmar, France readying for the Tour di France, their little Venice section, my friends at Sezanne, the house where Bartholdio, who designed the statue of liberty, was born and then northern Italy, near Verbania and our mountain hike with pix of Lago d'Orta from high and low.