Monday, June 6, 2011

Italian Day on The Drive

Have I exclaimed recently on this blog that "I LOVE MY NEIGHBOURHOOD!"?

East Van and The Drive may not be the toniest of VanCity's neighbourhoods but, in my book, it's got more than enough character to make up for that perceived "shortcoming." Today's a prime example of The Drive at its best. For the second year running, the city and The Drive have shut down about a mile of Commercial to traffic to try and revive the old tradition that was shut down twenty years ago.

The street becomes awash in countless folks strolling along, taking in all the food stalls and cultural activities. And, fortunately, Mother nature decided to award us with stellar weather - unlike last year's torrential downpour. There's a certain cachet in listening to opera under an umbrella, but it's way livelier to groove away to all sorts of impromptu street dancing and deejays blasting everything from underground club and Italian folk songs to Jamaican dub reggae.

Of course, there was no avoiding the ubiquitous signs of the Canucks and the playoff run - even though The Drive might be more associated with the various "ethnic" celebrations that erupt after big wins on the international soccer scene. We particularly enjoyed the street hockey game pitting stilted bruisers against one of the smallest goalies you'll ever see in your life. Not that she understood the slightest thing about what was happening, she earned a shutout during the time that we watched.

We strolled over to the celebration during the late afternoon and, as much as the Italian sausages, pizza and grilled sardines kept calling out to Boo and I, the attendant line ups didn't look nearly as appetizing and we decided to just mosey on home and whip up a little bit of Italy ourselves. Plus, it meant that I could grab a nice bottle of Italian wine to savour through the evening.

822. 2001 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (DOCG Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - Italy)

I didn't really know anything about Carpineto and, to be honest, I don't even recall how we came about adding this bottle to the cellar. I do, however, know that I generally find Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to be among my favourite Italian wines - maybe that's because the term "Nobile" seems to come from the fact that, in the past, the wine's production was reserved exclusively for the aristocratic, noble families of the town. I also love the way that it trips off the tongue. It just sounds delicious.

And, lucky for us, it tasted that way as well. Made from the Sangiovese clone, Prugnolo Gentile, I found the wine to have a bigger mouthfeel and a lower acidity than we tend to find in the Chiantis that are available locally.

After a bit of research, I now see that the Carpineto winery was only founded in 1967 in Tuscany. That makes it a bit of a youngster in a region where some wineries have been in production for centuries. The folks behind Carpineto wanted to try and take a bit of a different take on winemaking in Tuscany. They started off by helping to introduce modernized viticultural and production practises in the hope of exceeding some of the historical production standards in the region.

It seems to be working - at least with this wine - as it was a wonderful way to cap off Italian Day.

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