Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Old friends and fun tours

23 Settembre
My friends, the Bowlins are visiting and when our grape harvest and stomping got rained out Monday, we headed into the countryside to visit. We visited a cheese maker, a beer maker, a wine maker, Ascoli Piceno and the next day, a tour of the Sagrantino wine area with our host Brenda of Sagrantino wine excursions. The cheese producer is up in Belmonte Piceno and makes a fascinating variety of unpasteurized cow and goat cheeses. Several are legal for US purchasers, but all are quite tasty. We arrived just as the fresh ricotta was being displayed and you will never want industrial ricotta again after trying the warm ricotta. The beer maker is small, making just 8000 1/2 liter bottles a year with plans to increase production to 24000 bottles. They grow their own barley and buy their hops from Germany, making several fine brews, including Weiss, pils and rossa.
The wine maker Madonnabruna makes a really nice rosso piceno and I found them at Divino in Vino.
The wine tour started inauspiciously as the highway to Spello was closed down for 3 hours for a truck wreck, so our morning appointment was missed. We made the best of things, starting with a nice lunch with a wine tasting, then 2 winery visits + a visit to Montefalco, the seat of Sagrantino. This is a powerful red wine, best with wild game or powerful dishes of any sort. You should be able to find an example at any of the better wine stores.
Because of the late hour, we all decided to spend the night in Umbria and then I came back to nascondiglio and Steve and Cindy went on to Florence. They will return for the rain date of the harvest/stomp party Friday.
I have been fortunate enough to attend many of the classical music concerts associated with the Ascoli Piceno festival and they close up with a nice meal and concert at Meletti in Ascoli. This is one of the 50 "historic bars" of Italy and a must-see for anyone coming this way to visit.
The pictures are of some ruins near Belmonte Piceno, the beer and cheese makers, lunch on the wine tour and then a pic with the owner/winemaker at Fattoria Milziade Antano, a 3 glass winner and quite a passionate character! Brenda is our tour guide and is on the right. You can find her link here on this page up and to the right.

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