Sunday, November 3, 2013

La Docle Vita - Bentornata Elzee

Elzee, one of our more regular - and favourite - drinking buddies though out this "odyssey," had recently returned from a vacation to Italy and Croatia and we were long overdue for a catch up and drink. Luckily for us, she threw in dinner - it might be all those Italian genes she has, but the girl's one heckuva cook.

This shouldn't be much of a surprise but one of the first things I asked her was, "So, what wines did you bring back with you?" I wouldn't have thought it humanly possible but her answer was that she didn't bring any wine back. I mean WTF? Apparently, she used her customs exemptions for fashion, not wine.

Like, I mean, what is it with women and shoes? It certainly seems clear to me that you'll get far more pleasure from a couple bottles of vino than you could ever get from Ferragamo or Zegna. As far as I know, four inch heels only lead to back pain - and where's the pleasure in that?

While Elzee may not have had any new finds from the recent voyage, there were still treats to be had.

1463. N.V. Domaine de la Favière - Apéritif aux Oranges (France)

The first bottle might not be a classic wine - being more of an apéritif - but it says wine based on it and there's no way I'll run across this bottle again - unless we head over to Europe ourselves - so I'm going to exercise a little licence and add it to The List.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find out much information about the producer or the bottle online. A couple of online sellers advise that it is produced from Provence Rosé wine, Marc de Provence, spices and sugar and has been macerated for several months with bitter oranges.

I found it to be quite similar to Aperol - which is definitely a good thing.

1464.  2008 Tedeschi Amarone (Amarone della Valpolicella D.O.C. - Italy)

Thinking that Elzee would likely still be in an Italian frame of mind, we brought along an Amarone for dinner. Now, some folks might think that Amarone is a bit big for a pumpkin soup and might question our choice. Silly people. Velvety, with slight nuances of raisin (from the semi-dried fruit used to make the wine), I'm hard pressed to think of anything that wouldn't go with a nice Amarone.  Okay, I might be stretching it a bit there but we didn't know what Elzee was serving in advance and, to be honest, the wine was fine with the soup as it wasn't the biggest of Amarones.

If it's any indication of the quality, there wasn't any wine left in the bottle by the time Elzee was ready to serve up the main course.  As such, I'm thinking the wine must have worked for more than just my palate.

1465.  2006 Bolla Amarone Classico (Amarone della Valpolicella D.O.C. - Italy)

Although the total volume of and the number of wineries producing Amarone has increased many fold in the last 30 years, Bolla claims to be the first winery to commercially market this particular style wine when they released an Amarone in 1953 - in part to celebrate patriarch, Alberto Bolla's, 80th birthday. Apparently, the wine wasn't really known outside of Italy prior to that time as the wine was only produced for private consumption.

Our second bottle was favoured a little more by all present. We found it to be a little richer and bolder - with a greater depth of the flavours shining through.

I know that I'm certainly glad that Bolla delivered Amarone to the world because it's a fave of mine. I just can't afford to drink it very often.

So, two Amarone in one night is a real treat. I suppose I need to forgive Elzee for not bringing back any wines after all.

1466.  N.V.  Piera Dolza Torchiato di Fregona (Colli di Conegliano D.O.C.G. - Italy)

There never was anything to be forgiven for, but the girl cemented her exoneration from any further chastising when she brought out a special bottle of dessert wine to go with Boo's apple pie. The Torchiato di Fregona is a wine specific to the town of Fregona in the region where Elzee's father grew up. Her Dad's cousin brought a bottle back for Elzee after one of his trips to Italy.

Once again, I couldn't find much information about this wine online. I'm not even sure that there's a specific winery involved. From what little I could find online and from the story that Elzee learned from her Dad, it appears that the wine stems from a centuries old tradition where grapes are hung to dry after harvest and left to evaporate to the extent that the grapes start to raisinate - ironically, this is somewhat similar to the end result and procedure seen with the production of Amarone - it just takes the evaporation process that much further.

It would also seem that the wine is produced in a collective manner by the winemakers and growers in the town. The grapes are apparently left to dry until close to Easter when the best and plumpest grapes are hand selected and pressed to create an unctuous and richly fruity dessert wine. It's anything but an Icewine; however, Icewine is probably the closest sip that might be familiar to BC consumers.

I did find out that traditional Torchiato di Fregona is made from three grapes Glera, Verdiso and Boschera. At first, I thought I was going to get to add three new grapes to my Wine Century Club tally. None of the three are ones that I'm familiar with - especially not by these local names. Unfortunately for me though, Glera is another name for the Prosecco grape and Boschera is what the locals call Verdicchio Bianco - and both of those grapes have already been counted on my list. That still leaves Verdiso though and it turns out to be a bit of a rarity. Jancis Robinson's (et al) tome, Wine Grapes, says that the grape had almost disappeared - until there was a bit of a recovery in the 1960's. By 1980, however, those plantings of the grape were back down to around 200 acres in all of Italy. Verdiso is still not a widely grown variety and, where it is grown, it is generally used for specialty dessert wines like this Torchiato di Fregona and is used in small amounts for some higher end Prosecco's.

Indeed, a special treat - to cap a wonderful evening - from a special friend.

Personally, I still would have brought back wine over shoes though. In her defence, Elzee said that the shoes would last her longer though and she figured that Boo and I would just have to accompany her the next time she heads back to Italy. Because there will be a next time. I can't wait.


  1. Good Morning, it's possible to use your torchiato's photo for free but (with your copyright, of course) for an italian magazine within an article about Torchiato? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hello. Go right ahead. I'd be quite honoured. Any chance that you can let me know when the article is published? I'd love to read it.

    2. Sure Bob, no problem and thanks again...