Loving, missing, and drinking my friends a world apart…

Had the trade fairs not been cancelled, had international flights not been suspended, had there not been a nationwide lockdown in Italy and then in the U.S., had there not been a global pandemic that has brought the entire world to its knees… an already weary American wine professional would have been in Franciacorta this last weekend, missing his family and home in Texas but comforted by a rich friendship that stretches back more than a decade.

Vinitaly, the annual Italian wine trade fair, was supposed to start yesterday, April 19. Like their counterparts from across the world and Italy, a legion of American wine trade members would have made their way to Verona late last week — me included.

Italians’ legendary warmth and hospitality are hard to understand until you’ve been their fortunate guest. And this lonesome Italonaut has been blessed by the generosity of gracious hosts across the peninsula. But there is none that rivals the reception a solitary American journey has experienced when visiting his comrades in Franciacorta.

Last week, knowing that he would have been otherwise enjoying the company and support of his fellows, the urge to drink their wine — a surrogate for their magnanimity — overcame this American enoscrivener.

Unable to embrace them in the flesh, denied the sound of their laughter, forbidden the fruits of their toil, and prohibited the bounty that graces their tables, he tracked down the next best thing: their 2015 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero, made from Chardonnay and a small amount of Pinot Blanc, with a second fermentation provoked by the must of berries from those very same vineyards that lie in the shadow of Lake Iseo, and vinified without the addition of any crystallized cane from the lands beyond their Longobard frontier.

The vibrant tropical fruit flavors of this wine rolled off his tongue as he and his family sat down for their Saturday night repast, its minerality leaving a sensation of purity and elegance as he drank it down with his wife’s homemade buns and hamburger patties. Even better yet did it taste to him when he picked up his guitar and strummed a few chords as he drank the last drops, not a libation left for the gods.

Giovanni Arcari and Nico Danesi, I can never repay you for the camaraderie, the friendship, the succor, and the solidarity in all things that you have shared with me. We would have all been together on Saturday night, seated around a table, a guitar within arm’s reach and a wedge of Bagòss, a heel of bread, and a bottle of wine always nearby.

On Saturday night we were a world apart yet you were with me on the bayou’s edge — in heart, in spirit, and in wine.

I love you, I miss you, and for a moment my heart was genuinely lifted by your vinous magic this weekend. I can’t wait until I can embrace you again.

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