Ever since I began my discovery of Italian wine, through great mentors like Dr. Jeremy Parzen and Jeff Morgenthal I continually heard the mantra, “You have to go, you won’t really understand the wine until you see the vine.” Thanks to Mariana Nedic of IEEM I am finally going to take a quick trip to the land of the oldest wine producing regions in the world.
I’m most excited to see what foods are paired with these wines in their native settings. Christine Hoffman, one of my fellow sommeliers at Terroni in Los Angeles recently mentioned to me that it wasn’t until a trip to the Pieropan winery in Verona, where she was given shaved artichoke paired with Soave Classico from the La Rocca vineyard that she really understood the essence of the wine. Stories like this are things sommeliers love to throw around with guests, friends, and at tables. I am eager to build some of my own stories – and I intend to do just that, with a trip to the Masciarelli Winery at Castello di Semivicoli. Will it be truffles, saffron, cheese, pastries, or something altogether unexpected? I can’t wait to find out.
I always delight in selling Montepulciano from Marina Cvetic – I love pronouncing her last name at the table, as it’s pronunciation mirrors the inflection of my own slavic surname. Masciarelli first came on my radar as a Slow Wine which for me is an important tool in discerning wineries that are adhering to natural winemaking techniques, highlighting indigenous varietals, and using organics wherever possible. Wine drinkers in Los Angeles have become increasingly interested, and prefer wines of this pedigree.
The generous fruit, structure, and craftsmanship of these wines always ensures a pleasing experience with every cork pull. I’m also hoping to taste some older vintages of Iskra (Spark in Croatian) sourced from nearby Teramo, to the north of Chieti. I have read that the village of San Martino, a small village in the Chieti province is known for a secret gun powder recipe made from the remains of vine stocks, which allowed townsfolk to resist the assault of Napoleonic troops desiring to conquer the town. I am so lucky to have Joanie Karapetian, one of the most hardworking and dynamic people in the wine business in Los Angeles today as my guide and traveling companion. I’m sure we will be climbing the high peaks of the nearby Abruzzi Appennines, with a bellies full of noble juice in no time!