The Lion, the Vigneron, and the Castle

Società Agricola Bussoletti Leonardo S.S.
Ciliegiolo di Narni “0535” 2018
Umbria IGT
Narni, Umbria, Italy
100% Ciliegiolo di Narni
Organic and spontaneous fermentation
Winemaker and Ambassador of Ciliegiolo: Leonardo Bussoletti

Deep ruby color but shining like a piece of stained glass window. Scents of cherry, roses, a mellow berry, and a pinch of cola. Flavors of dark and sweet cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries with their seeds included to give a little good bitter kick

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: deeper, darker, and sweeter

Chill it a little, it’s really good that way. This is your summer red.

When I first looked at the label with the lion and the name of the town being Narni, I immediately thought of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Even if C.S. Lewis never set foot in Narni (previously named Narnia), he did discover it in an atlas, underlined it, and told his biographer (Walter Hooper) that the name had inspired his magical realm. In 2009, Walter sent the same atlas to Narni’s local historian (Giuseppe Fortunati), so it all comes full circle. How cool is that! Narnia was a place I spent many hours in my childhood visiting through the pages of his wonderful series, and now I get to travel there by glass.

Another image on the label is Narni’s square fortress Rocca Albornoziana. It looks like it could have fallen out of C.S. Lewis’ world or even GOT. There’s four towers, a moat, and a second wall of protection. You would seriously need a dragon to get past all that. It’s also been a home to popes (one holed up in there to escape a plague), military officials, and in 1906 a Russian prince, when he bought it for a song. Now it’s back in the hands of Narni.

Narni also has secret below known as “The Underground”. Back in 1979, six young men who loved exploring caves, stumbled upon quite the discovery of an underground chapel, frescos, tunnels, and many other closed off rooms. Over the years, research (some also from Vatican documents) and preservation continued and it turns out that this hidden treasure was part of the Papal Inquisition. No one ever expects the Papal Inquisition! There are scratch marks on the walls from tools of torture. There’s a cell where prisoners left their mark, one of them is in a code that no one has been able to crack. Chilling to think of these poor people being forced to confess to heresy.

Ok, I can’t leave this wonderful city on such a dark note. Each year, from July through part of August, Narni has the Narnia Festival of music, dance, theater, exhibitions, workshops, etc. Check out their site  and here.

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Rosato, Rosè and Roses

Tenuta I Fauri
Baldovino 2018
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC
Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
Montepulciano 100%
Sustainable farming
Winemaking family: Luigi and Valentina Di Camillo (brother and sister)

This is a cherry red Rosè. Elegant fresh breath of flowers and more specifically roses. Cherry and strawberries start to pop in too, the more it warms. Delicious swig that has my tastebuds dancing. Definitely cherry, plummy and strawberry sweetness. It’s fruity but not overwhelming. It’s more refreshing, oh and something floral in the taste too. Wait something woody nutshell emerges, but not bad. The more I think about it, it’s almond and not the shell. Been eating quite a few when we were locked down. Yes, I do eat other things than just Cheez-It’s.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: say goodbye to the almond and hello to a gush of fruit

Tenuta I Fauri was founded in 1978 by Domenico Di Camillo (Luigi and Valentina’s dad). This is another lovely story, of a family falling in love with wine and passing it down the generations. Also brother and sister both studied oenology and then came aboard the family business. Quite the power team with some great PR. They were picked by Forbes back in 2019 as one of five small wine producers to watch. From this bottle alone, I can definitely see why.

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A Spiritual Emotion

Antica Tenuta Pietramore
Vanita 2019
Methode Ancestrale
Vino Frizzante
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 100%
Abruzzo Italy
Organic and Biodynamic
Winemakers Maria Pia Leone & Massimiliano Bartolomei

Color is golden with a dusting of cloudy sediment. Take that first deep breath, and savor the lemon and grapefruit. Next come the slate and something herbal I can’t identify, but it gives it this wilderness spice hint. Still swirling and honestly I’m always a fan of a bit of sediment. It’s like having the prize in the bottom of a box of Cracker Jacks. You can’t wait to get to it. On with the sipping… there’s apples, salt, grapefruit, lemon, and ginger. It’s fresh and zingy bubbles and a touch of earth. This is definitely a pét-nat to pack along to go sit buy the river and relax.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Just bubbly happiness. Brings out the apples

Visiting Antica Tenuta Pietramore’s site and you’re greeted with a beautiful quote, “The pleasure of wine: a spiritual emotion”. Winemakers Maria Pia Leone and Massimiliano Bartolomei (her husband) have a deep love and care for their land and the vines that they cultivate. They’ve dedicated themselves to keeping everything organic and biodynamic. They’re also bio-vegan using what they call “green manure” which is planting legume plants between the vineyard rows and then as the plants grow, they pass on nutrients to the vines. Very cool, and I’m sure a lot of work, but it definitely pays off in the health and quality of their wines. Their grapes are harvested by hand, and so are their olives which are turned into a cold pressed bio and organic olive oil. The serene pics of their land and the neighborhood surrounding make me want to get on a plane right now and discover all I can about Abruzzo.

The three comunes/provinces mentioned on Pietramore’s site are Chieti, Teramo, and Pescara which they state are the best terroirs in Abruzzo, so here go my travels.

The northeastern side of Chieti touches the Adriatic and that area is known as Costa dei Trabocchi. Beautiful sandy and pebbly beaches, rocky cliffs, and trabucchi that extend out into the sea. A trabucco is an old fishing contraption/structure built of wood and is also grounded in rock. They look like shacks at the end of a long deck, that have crane-like extensions with nets that can be lowered by a winch when the fishermen see fish headed their way. From what I’m reading some of these old buildings have been transformed into restaurants, and as for others, the Italian government has provided funding for historical preservation. Such a nice slice of history.

Moving on to Teramo. Since we’ve already had a taste of the coast, I’m turning my eyes to Gran Sasso d’Italia, which is also located in Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park. There are old tales that Gran Sasso was a sleeping giant. Now it’s a majestic attraction that draws hikers, climbers and others that just want to enjoy a day in nature. There are three different summits and it’s tallest is the Corno Grande, which also happens to be the tallest point in the Apennine Mountains. The different levels of Gran Sasso also include areas where sheep roam and graze and wildflowers are abundant. There’s also quite an assortment of wildlife and some of them are quite rare such as the Apennine wolf, European wildcats and the Abruzzo chamois which is a goat-antelope (I had no idea this creature ever existed and it is cute!)

Now to Pescara…Let’s stop off at the Museo Delle Genti d’Abruzzo, which documents the history of the people of Abruzzo beginning in palaeolithic times. The museum strives to keep passing down all the traditions, religions, folklore, and cultural transitions, to make sure that future generations will know where they come from and what shaped their society into what it is now. Here’s a little bit of Pescara history for you. Back in 1969, they held their first international jazz festival. Now it takes place every July (not sure how 2020 will be due to Covid) and it has drawn so many famous musicians such as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock, Sarah Vaughn and the list goes on. I’ll leave it here with Mingus: Take the ‘A’ Train – Live At Montreux

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