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Andy's Journal Entry #4

Thursday, 06 June 2024 08:09
Andy' Journal Entry #4
  Our trip to Marche was lovely, the landscape similar to the rolling green hills of Abruzzo. Garofoli is located directly on the main thoroughfare, the winery is over 100 years old and the road in front of it leads to an ancient holy site, reportedly the site of Mary’s birth and supposedly transported to Marche from Palestine by angels. While I doubt angels actually transported the gigantic building that overlooks the winery from the mountain above us, the stones were apparently actually from Palestine, our hosts claimed.

   The wine tasting at Garofoli was the best I have ever experienced in my life, and believe me when I say that in that I have been to a lot of wine tastings is a gigantic understatement! It is run by Daria and Gianluca Garofoli, a mother and son, and they were two of the funniest and warmest human beings I have ever met. We were joined by David, their intergalactic director of sales, and he and Gianluca were basically a comedy duo. The wines were amazing and extremely well priced from start to finish. They specialize in whites from Verdicchio di Castillo di Jesi, and reds made from Montepulciano (the grape, not the place. More on that later), from the areas of Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno. We have carried the “Piancarta” Rosso Conero nearly since we opened our doors at Metro Wines. It is one of my favorites to recommend and as always, it didn’t disappoint.

   After the tasting they took us to the nearby seaside village of Sirolo for lunch. It was a restaurant overlooking the ocean that they knew of. We walked over to the ocean where we could see Monti Conero, where the Rosso Conero is grown, a huge rock jutting dramatically out of the stunningly blue waters of the Adriatic. To say the view was incredible is, again, an understatement. 

   After staring at the incredible views, we had lunch at an authentic seafood restaurant, Trattoria Osteria Sara, where we proceeded to have what is doubtless the craziest meal I have ever had! Incredible seafood kept coming out of the kitchen and the wine kept flowing. 3 kinds of sparkling vermentino with fresh tuna carpaccio, fresh out of the water, seasoned only with black sea salt and local olive oil. Enormous anchovies followed, with Garofoli “Macrina” Verdiccio. Clams, mussels, chopped octopus and snails, served in little whelk shells followed that. Amaro, espresso, and then dessert. The conversation got louder and louder, David and Gianluca sat with us and joked with us. I felt like I knew them forever, like we were family. I felt like an Italian, not a tourist. It was the most amazing dining experience I have ever had. I feel like I’ll be chasing that feeling again for the rest of my life.

   We were hours late for our next appointment when we stumbled back to our bus. We loaded up and drove through the tunnels cut into the Apenine Mountains, through Umbria and into Tuscany. The craggy, Alp-like mountains gave way to the familiar rolling hills and cypress trees of Tuscany. I napped on the way after getting completely drunk at lunch.

   That evening we met with Poliziano, just outside the famous Medieval city of Montepulciano (the place, not the grape). They are famous for their Vino Nobile de Montepulciano made from the Prugnolo Gentile grape, a thick skinned clone of Sangiovese. Our still lightly toasted group did our best to listen as we took a tour of the marvelous winery. 

   This place was run by Federico Carletti and his son Francesco. While we toured their palatial estate, they explained their winemaking philosophy and how they were dealing with the dramatic effects of climate change. The two butted heads occasionally on how they thought the wine should be made, Federico preferring to keep things traditional; heavy, ageable, oaked wines while Francesco suggested going for a lighter, newer style, ready to drink with minimal aging and no oak. It was very interesting to hear them politely debating each other.

   After the tour, we tasted through the wines they make; rich, velvety reds made from Sangiovese and also some newer wines made from Merlot and Cabernet. They were all extremely good!

   Dinner followed, a huge display of antipasti, put together by Fabio, their chef. After I had eaten my fill, Fabio took away our plates as if the meal was over. But it wasn’t. A huge plate of homemade bolognese followed, not resembling what I make back home in the slightest, and then a fig torte and Vin Santo. The Vin Santo was almost overwhelmingly complex; flavors of espresso, apricot, salted caramel, and old furniture. It was one of the most gorgeous flavors I have ever had in my life and my first Vin Santo experience.

   We left Poliziano around midnight, all of us were exhausted from so much drinking and lack of sleep the night before. There was some talk about going out on the town which was immediately shut down almost unanimously. We needed sleep, we had another big day of tasting tomorrow. Tomorrow we head into Chianti.