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Andy's Journal Entry #6

Friday, 07 June 2024 09:39
Andy's Journal Entry #6 
        The next morning, after a few hours of sleep, we rose and went down into the lobby for breakfast. We consumed a reckless amount of espresso and cappuccino, along with delicious pastries, fruit, eggs and bacon. Our driver Dominico, explained to us that Cappuccino is fine for breakfast, but you shouldn’t order it after 11:00, or everyone will think you are German. Only espresso after 11:00. I find these little cultural details so interesting.

        We drove to Emilia Romagna from Tuscany, it took about 3 hours, leaving the land of Sangiovese behind and heading into the land of Balsamic Vinegar, Parma ham and Lambrusco. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Lambrusco, so I wasn’t overly excited about this visit. Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for Lambrusco, but it just has never really been my thing. The rolling hills of Tuscany eventually gave way to the flat, sun drenched vineyards of Emilia Romagna, our bus eventually stopping at Cleto Chiarli, the oldest winery in Lambrusco. 
       After meeting Tomasso, the export manager and member of the current generation of owners of Cleto Chiarli, he took us on a tour of the winery. It is located in an old Villa, and one of Italy’s most famous generals lived on the property. He showed us the vineyards, which were so hot, and the fermentation tanks. I got to see a Charmat Method tank, which I have explained to my students in my classes, but have never actually seen. We asked him so many questions about winemaking and he patiently answered them all for us.

        Next, we went upstairs in the Villa for a tasting of his wines. They were actually very good and not really what I expected Lambrusco to be. There are two kinds of Lambrusco grapes, technically there are more but without getting exhaustingly technical, let’s just focus on two; Lambrusco Sorbara and Lambrusco Grasparossa. The wines made from Sorbarra were delicate and light, almost rosé in color, with high acidity and flavors of strawberries, sour cherries and an almost Muscadine-like spiciness in the finish. The Grasparossa wines were darker in color and more muscular, with more tannin, and more of a cooked blackberry flavor. 

        Only one in the tasting had any residual sugar, the rest being Brut. The Amabile, a medium dry style, was lovely. The little bit of residual sugar seemed like a shock to my taste buds after so much scorchingly dry, high acid Lambrusco. It was nice, emphasizing the fruit and balancing out the acid a bit. Instead of a bitterly acidic blackberry, it was more like a blackberry pie that you forgot to add enough sugar to. 

        After our tasting, we were treated to a fantastic lunch, full of Parma ham, balsamic vinegar and homemade cheese ravioli. The rumor is true, in Italy they will keep filling up your plate, and you are expected to eat it. I was painfully full when I left Cleto Chiarli. After lunch, we left for Piemonte, probably my favorite wine region in the world. I have read about this place for so long, studied maps, read about soil types and climate, but I haven’t never been there. It was a magical feeling driving towards it, the promise of Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Gavi di Gavi exciting me. 

        That night we had a free night in Asti, we walked around, shopped and had a wonderful dinner outside in the city. It was nice to cut loose again after so much intense, studious wine tasting. When I arrived at the hotel, I resisted the urge to go out partying in the city of Alba. Tomorrow we visit Barolo, and I want to be at my best for that!
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