Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo is here! (and my band circa 1993)

Above: Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo is the Prosecco that I tasted back in the early 1990s when I was living in the Veneto. Bottle fermented, lees aged, unfiltered, salty, crunchy Prosecco made from 100% Glera. That’s the traditional glass, btw, for real Prosecco. No flutes please!

The story of how Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo got to the U.S. stretches back to the early 1990s when I was the band leader of a cover band touring the Veneto during my summers off from graduate school.

Above, from left: me, Shawn Amos, and Charlie George circa 1993 in the village of Pedavena (Feltre).

After I found success doing a piano bar act in the many pubs and beer houses that line the Piave river, the owner of one of the venues, Renato Dal Piva (who later became one of my best friends in Italy), asked me if I’d be interested in doing a summer residency at the historic Pedavena beer garden just outside of Feltre.

Above, from left: My super good friend and amazing guitar player and all-around musician Gabriele “Elvis” Inglesi and the rest of us at the façade of the Siena duomo. We also played a one-night stand in Montalcino in the village of Bagno Vignoni, a night of fried wild-boar liver and Sangiovese.

That was an amazing and unforgettable time in my life. I was in my twenties, studying Italian philology and cinema, living on the many scholarships I won (including a Fulbright), and playing in a cover band at beer festivals (many of them celebrating unpasteurized beer) throughout the Veneto during the summers.

Above: I believe that this article was published in Il Mattino di Padova. If you really want to read it (in Italian), click the image for a PDF (very large file!).

Fast forward to 2010: I get a Facebook message from Riccardo Zanotto who used to come every summer to see us play and drink many, many beers with us.

In early 2011, on the occasion of my trip to Italy with Tracie P, he organizes a tasting of a small group of brave young producers who are making REAL Prosecco, the wines that I used to drink during my years there in an era before the consumerist hegemony of yeasted, banana-candy large-vat fermented Prosecco (you know the brands).

Here’s the link to our tasting notes.

Riccardo’s Prosecco Col Fondo is bottle fermented, lees aged, unfiltered, and unsulfured.

It’s being brought to California by a Los Angeles importer: I’m making it available for sale retail through my wine club and we’re doing a public tasting of the wine in San Francisco at Ceri Smith’s excellent shop Biondivino on Friday, August 17, 6-8 p.m.

I couldn’t be more thrilled… if only because we love these wines and we want to drink them!

And some story, huh? See, mom? All those years of rock ‘n’ roll actually delivered some great rewards… and they just keep on giving…

Thanks for reading, yall!

Soppressa, a few clarifications in the wake of the scandal at Vinitaly

In the wake of the recent controversy stirred by my note on “Tuscan” soppressa, many of my friends and colleagues have benevolently chided me for the lacunate information posted here on the blog.

For the record, soppressa or soprèssa (as it is often spelled in Veneto) is a classic cured pig’s meat salame produced in the provinces of Verona, Vicenza, and Treviso (as well as in other areas of what was once called the Most Serena Republic of Venice).

Technically, for soppressa di be called soppressa, it must be produced using pigs raised in the production area (as in the official appellation regulations for Sopressa Vicentina, for example).

When I wrote “Tuscan soppressa” the other day, I was referring to the fact that my good friend Riccardo (below) — whom I know from summers touring with my cover band in the Veneto back in the early 1990s — produces his soppressa (trevigiana in its classification) using pigs raised in Tuscany. The secret to its supreme quality, he says, is the fact that he uses the entire beast, including the chops, the loin, and tender loin. In traditional production, the best cuts are reserved for other uses.

As a consummate venetophile, I certainly cannot blame my friends for the fun they’ve had at my expense. But now that I have published this errata corrige, I hope they will cease in their unwarranted derision.

And the end of the day yesterday, having completed our respective rounds at the Italian wine trade fair Vinitaly, we reconvened for a snack of Riccardo’s excellent insaccato — intestine encased — salame with our friend Sara Carbone’s Aglianico del Vulture – a brilliant however blasphemous pairing. (Btw, one of the unique elements of soppressa is that large cow’s intestines are used for the casing as opposed to porcine.)


The best Prosecco tasting ever…

and the best tasting Prosecco ever…

In the canon of Italian wine writing, you often find tasters who express the emotion that a wine evokes. In Italian vinography, when a writer uses the descriptor emozionante, the term denotes that a wine was moving, thrilling, stirring, exciting…

Such was the case yesterday at one of the most extraordinary tastings that Tracie P and I have ever attended: yesterday, my friend Riccardo Zanotto, whom I first met back in 1992 when I was playing an American cover band in the Veneto, organized a “Prosecco Colfòndo” tasting with five producers of bottle-fermented lees-aged Prosecco — just for us.

Today, I don’t have the time to post my copious notes from the event but I will as soon as I have some downtime. In the meantime, as Tracie P and I head to Venice to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, I’d like to thank Riccardo and the other producers for what was truly one of the most thrilling wine events I’ve ever attended. In part, because I feel a deep connection to Prosecco, the land of Prosecco, the culture of Prosecco, and the people of Prosecco. In part, because the wines are truly OUTSTANDING. A remarkable and truly thrilling wine event for us.