What’s in a Name?

Pantaleone
Onirocep 2020
100% Pecorino
Falerio Pecorino DOC
Organic, hand harvested, biodiverse
Ascoli Piceno, Marche, Italy
Family (Pantaloni) owned winery in latest hands of Federica and Francesca (and her husband Giuseppe)

Remember that yellow-green crayon? Well think a little more yellow. Give the glass a little time to grow and scents of pears, apricot, pineapple, and musky white peach are joined with smoke/peat and rained on slate…this is darn lovely. First sip and there’s a little mild sizzle on the front edges of my tongue. Tasting and there are those pears and apricot again followed by Mandarin orange, nectarine, a sliver of dinosaur plum and its skin, pineapple and a smidge of pineapple gummy bear (those are my favorite!) and a little bitter herby like a rosemary and thyme mix. Yum, yum yum!!!

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: crisp yet luscious at the same time

So I evidently opened this bottle a tiny bit early. I’m reading online that Federica advises to wait 2 years. Well, we’re almost to 2022 (I can’t believe how time has flown this year), and if it gets better than what I just had then I’m getting another bottle and sitting on it. Heck, maybe I should buy a whole case! As for the name “Onirocep” I kept thinking is that the name of the artwork on the label or is it the name of some ancient beast that roamed the land? Then it hit me…it’s Pecorino spelled backwards. Before it was a DOC (2012) it was an IGT and you weren’t allowed to list the varietal on the bottle. Why do I always overthink things 🤣? Cheers y’all!

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A Wine of Mystery

Azienda Agricola Crivelli
Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato DOC 2018
Ruchè 100%
Castagnole Monferrato, Asti, Italy
No herbicide or pesticide used, hand harvested, indigenous grape
Winemakers: Marco Maria Crivelli and his son Jonathan

Shining ruby and purple. It’s buttery at first…just a little bit. Next it’s fragrant warm spice, deep cherries, plumminess, and a touch of Twizzler. Sipping in spiced cherry, plum, prune and other dried fruit richness, and some cola. There’s also twinge of bitter like an olive pit or maybe an almond and some black pepper. Medium body and lovely and easy to drink.

Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Juicy, juicy, juicy, fruit

According to Azienda Agricola Crivelli, ”If someone in Castagnole Monferrato offers to you a Ruchè, it’s because he cares of you”. Now, that makes me feel pretty special to have a bottle of this grape with mysterious origins. In the past there were tales that monks may have brought it from Burgundy, but that got a big fat no with a DNA test. It appears to be an indigenous grape that has been around at least from the Middle Ages, and was revitalized by a local priest, who has been said to have wished he had more time to spend with the vines than people.

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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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