Wine of the Month
Note: Create joy, one sip at a time.
Featured Wine: Cottanera Etna Rosso Barbazzale
Denominazione: Etna DOC
Grape Variety: 90%. Nerello Mascalese 10%. Nerello Cappucio
Production Zone: Etna, Sicily
Vinification: Destemming and temperature-controlled maceration on the skins for 20-25 days. Temperature-controlled fermentation at 79’F in stainless steel with frequent pump overs and pressing
Aging: Five months in stainless steel
Color: Velvety Red
Price: Around $20 (worth a lot more)
People, I have fallen in love…two times!! Not the best kind of love, but a good kind just the same. First, I was opening up a bottle of wine, Cottanera Etna Barbazalle, to be precise, with zero expectations. When the cork popped, I was greeted with such a lovely perfume of blackberry, anise, and spice, a touch of earth, along with this soft remnant of minerality. It really was glorious. My olfactory system was singing. Maybe I’ve had too many earthy, hearty wines lately and my palate needed a new adventure; Barbazzale gave me exactly that.
As the wine poured from the bottle, it was so velvety. The notes kept singing and I was enthusiastic about trying it out. Part of it, I believe, was the simple yet powerful notes that first greeted me and drew me in. I love Old World Wines.
On my first sip, I let the wine rest in my mouth and got this wonderfully smooth blackberry and anise with a peppery finish; the acid hitting the left and right of the tongue, dry down the center, soft tingly minerality throughout. The tannins in this wine creep up and continue to spread all over subtle and silky for a long dry and peppery finish with sprays of acidity. The wine felt like velvet on the tongue.
Barbazzale is medium bodied and easy to sip without food; yet, it is so good, it almost deserves food. It has started cooling off a little here and to top it off, our garden is actually producing food which gave me the option of making a light pasta with cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, parmesan and Romano (heavy on the Romano). It doesn’t take much to make this wine shine. Another dish that went so well was Patate e Peperoni (Calabrian sticky potatoes with peppers and onions). If you are in the mood for something heavier, believe me when I tell you that my Greek Stew, tomato based with cinnamon, clove, cumin, oregano, rosemary and peppercorns is a strong contender. I also feel like Jamaican Oxtail with White Beans or Lasagna would be wonderful.
Not only does the Cottanera Winery make such a gorgeous wine but, they hire primarily women; their website discusses how it is said that women have a gentler touch when it comes to wine making, Italians can be so romantic. (And maybe a little sexist???); whatever they say, I’m a believer. The Cambria family also has respect for the land, using natural practices and as always, that respect shines through.
I need to tell you about my second love, I was almost finished with this review then something awful and beautiful happened yesterday. During a crazy storm, I was cooking said Greek Stew, my final pairing with Barbazzale, and was about to make some honey beer bread when I realized I needed salted butter; that butter is in the garage, in the freezer. The thunder was shaking the house, the lightening felt unnaturally close, and as I opened the door to the garage, I heard a crazy crash and suddenly, the garage door was ripped off and water and debris started flying in. I ran back inside and saw water coming in the front door. I looked out the window and I saw what looked like an ocean; white and frothy, ten feet deep at least, surpassing the culvert and rushing over our neighbor’s driveway, smashing into my car; my car was moved five feet and was saved by a six-inch curb (to quote our neighbor Ginger). While this was happening, people were driving by and just watching and filming the destruction, while we were trapped. It lasted maybe thirty minutes. I needed to turn the power off and the fence wouldn’t open so I had to climb over it to get to the fuse box (the whole time thinking, I hope no one sees me…they did). In the meantime, the freezer was now flipped over and resting on top of about three feet of debris. Did I mention that a very large amount of my belongings were stored in the garage? They’re gone. Half of our front yard is filled with mud; all of the plants buried.
Someone called 911 and the firetruck came; they were nice (and super good looking, why is that?), but were more like the others, looky-loos. They came in, said we will bring you some resources, left and never came back. But the looky-loos came back, over and over again, just photographing the damage. The good news? We found a trash can, as ours had been washed away; we have a lot of trash right now, all of my belongings to be specific.
But then my readers, in this place that I talk shit about so often; their fleece outfits, the not that friendly attitude, two families came to the door and asked, ‘What do you need?’ Well, we needed a lot, rags first as we had already used every sheet and towel in the house; they brought rags and then they brought shovels, and literally cleaned out our two-car garage, removed all of the debris. Did I lose a lot of my belongings? Yes. Am I beyond grateful? Yes. I can’t even think of what to get these families to show my gratitude. But, maybe? Just maybe, a bottle of Barbazzale?
I had such a funny story to tell you about a wine vlog I watched and now, I only want to share with you that amongst all of the destruction, (a Volvo ripped by our house, flipping and crashing into trees), there is still kindness in this world and there is still very delicious wine in this world. I felt love for the second time.
To make Barbazzale an occasion, rather than just a drinking session, I say use tomato greenery, along with coreopsis, or whatever flower you have blooming. Just run a few bunches down the center of your table along with a few bottles of Barbazzale; believe me, if you have company, and I say, always have company when you can, this wine will not last. It is so yummy it has depth; it is so velvety; it really is a gem. If you happen to be in Flagstaff, we could enjoy it on the hood of the Volvo, trapped a few houses down, in a neighbor’s backyard. For music, I pick country, specifically the song ‘Ocean Front Property in Arizona’ because that is what we had, if only for a brief moment. Back when I lived here and went to university, I had this gorgeous boyfriend, Brian, he drove a flat black chopper (Harley) that he built himself. He got me a job, detailing Harleys and in the morning, we would go to Mary’s Diner, (I loved their chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy) and I would play ‘Ocean Front Property’ as well as “All My Exes Live in Texas’ often. I bet the wait staff hated my predictability, I’ve lost so much now, I’ve gotta hang on to my memories.
So, yes, I am in love two times and yes, I will fall in love again, hopefully tomorrow. Meanwhile, I sit in awe of our neighbors’ kindness as well as of this one-of-a-kind wine. Okay, I gotta get back to clearing and discarding what were once my treasures.
Possiamo trovare tutti l’amore