Monday, June 9, 2014

La Dolce Vita on The Drive

It's true, The Drive and surrounds might not be as homogeneously Italian as it was years ago when it was known as Little Italy. All the same, there's still plenty of pasta, pizza, Chianti, gelato and espresso to be found - all well within walking distance. Furthermore, you can still throw out a "Ciao Bella" (or "Bello") here and there and be completely understood.

Particularly on this one Sunday of the year.

After a decades long hiatus, Italian Day returned to The Drive in 2010 and it's quickly become one of the biggest community/cultural events happening in Vancouver. Naturally, we joined in with up to 300,000 of our closest friends for a stroll amongst all the regular shops as they extend out into the street and vie for attention with all the merchants that have set up kiosks just for the day.

After all, can you ever really have enough things Italian in your life?

1625.  2011 Cesconi - Prabi Bianco (Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT - Italy)

As much as we nibbled our way along The Drive, we still opted for dinner at home - keeping it Italian, of course. A little pasta and an adventurous white from the north-eastern part of that country. The adventure in this bottle is that it features yet another grape that I can add to my Wine Century Club tally. Being a blend of Manzoni Bianco, Riesling and Pinot Bianco, you probably don't have to guess too hard to figure out which grape gets to be added as #172.

Manzoni Bianco is a cross of Riesling and Pinot Bianco created in the 1930's and has been called the "most famous among the clones created by Professor Luigi Manzoni." It is known as an early ripening grape and one that is adaptable to a variety of soils and climates. Although primarily grown in the north of Italy, it is grown throughout the country and can be found in blends - such as the bottle at hand - as a dry varietal wine or, sometimes, as a sweeter, late harvest wine or even in bubblies.

For anyone interested in reading a bit more about the grape, head off to a Fringe Wine post on Manzoni. As is often the case, Fringe Wine is a great source for material on grapes that might be a little fringier than Chardonnay or Cab.

The Cesconi winery and website can also give you a bit more information about their story and philosophy on wine. Each of the three varieties used in the blend is fermented separately in stainless steel tanks and then aged on its lees for with months. There isn't a whole lot of the Prabi Bianco produced. One source said around 5000 bottles were produced of this 2011 vintage while the website says that around 10,000 bottles were produced of the 2012 vintage.

Located in the Dolomite Mountains, the family has been working the vineyards from the early 1800's. Being as north as it is, the region primarily produces white wines.  Over the years, all of the winery's vineyards have been converted to organic farming practices and, in more recent years, biodynamic principles have started to be introduced into the vineyard.

I've said many a time in my posts that Italian whites aren't generally among my favourites (not when compared to our home grown whites), but this one was pleasantly full and flavourful. A nice end to one of my favourite days in our neighbourhood.

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