Friday, January 16, 2015

Wine Tour in Puglia

L. to R., Natalie, of Tormaresca Wines, my daughter-in-law J, husband P, son Z, and son-in-law A.

My blogging task this week -- let's call it a late New Year's Resolution, shall we? -- was to finally complete a post which I've been planning and writing and not finishing ever since last summer. Rather than reconstruct it completely, I used the Draft that's been in my file for months, and you'll see what I mean. I've kept the additions and updates in italics. I finally finished last weekend, but I'm having some girlfriends over later this afternoon for a Friday Wine-Down, and since I'll be pouring from bottles of Tormaresca (Chardonnay and Trentangeli, descriptions below), this seems a good day to post.

Started writing this section in October. . .  At the end of June, I thanked the wonderfully generous Giuseppe Palumbo and Natalie Orsini at Tormaresca's Bocca di Lupo estate (in Italy's Puglia region) for an amazingly warm, informative, thoroughly enjoyable tour. Giuseppe's son, Vito, had extended the invitation to visit when he met my sommelier-trained daughter-in-law in Vancouver earlier in her role as a sales rep with Mark Anthony Wine Merchants, the company that imports Tormaresca wines to BC. (Vito wasn't able to be with us in June, but he called during lunch to apologize for his absence and make sure we were being well taken care of -- as, indeed, we were!).
Joey takes a call from Vito while Giuseppe looks on. . . .

At that time, I promised a follow-up post in which I intended to roll out more photos of the gorgeous building and grounds and tell you a bit about the wines and our magnificent lunch.

And now it's October, and I still haven't done that (hangs head in shame). Can I hang it much lower, in January?

I did think about the promised post and begin to upload photos here when my daughter-in-law  gave us a beautiful bottle of the splendidly dignified, sumptuous Bocca di Lupo for our 40th anniversary at the end of August. Sadly unavailable for private purchase here in BC, this was one of ten delicious wines we'd tasted back in Puglia, and remembering the surroundings in which we'd first sampled it prodded me to fulfil my promise.

Isn't this space beautiful -- those long gentle arcs, the rhythms of curves playing off lines, all in muted, natural tones. . .

The same line-up, with the addition on the right of my daughter and granddaughter

In all the photos above, we're on the ground floor in a vast yet hospitable space where the various wines are displayed with information about their provenance, their qualities, their best pairings.

The space's coolness was welcome after we'd stood outside for five or ten minutes on arrival as Natalie pointed out the grape-processing machinery. It was southern-Italy-July-noon hot out there, but we trusted our sunscreen and endured the heat in order to learn a bit more about the 21st-century alternative to stomping fruit in a barrel.
The machinery and storage facilities inside were impressive as well (and, to our relief, housed in a much cooler spot).
The building, if I remember correctly, is 10 to 15 years old, but it beautifully echoes the arches and vaults and curves of older Italian architecture (actually, it put me in mind of the early 19th century warehouse that was converted into Bordeaux' Musée d'Art Contemporain). And oh, I wish, I wish I could convey the rich, full, mineral, vanilla-woody, hint of fruit and fermentation fragrance of this space. The overall effect of the visual rhythms, the assertive blending of  deliberate neutral tones, the reassuringly consistent textures, the comforting scent that insistently, yet kindly, urged deeper, slower draughts of oxygen into grateful lungs. All we were lacking, really, was the incense, and the allusion to a cathedral's sacred space would be complete.

 Even our littlest member seemed impressed (and remarkably well-behaved!)
 Of course, the wonderful architecture and furnishings invited all to be on our best behaviour
 although welcomingly, comfortably, so.

 And the vistas of vineyards stretching across the landscape

Imagine being in a grand, sumptuously furnished room with such vistas. . . and imagine a table being set up with bottles of red, white, rosé, sparkling glasses set out . . . .and then wonderful appetizers brought in as accompaniment -- burrata cheese, beautifully cured meats, artisan breads, fruit. We moved through the tastings, introduced by Natalie to 8 or 10 wines. 

It was especially meaningful for all of us to hear Joey add so informatively to Natalie's introduction to the wines we drank. Of course, we know that our Daughter/Sister-in-law is trained as a sommelier and we've all benefited through the years from her knowledge about which wines to buy and/or to serve. But to gather around a beautiful table full of delightful bottles in such a magnificent setting and hear how passionately and knowledgeably and clearly she described these various wines. . . .so special!

Weeks and weeks and weeks (okay, months!) ago, I had her send me a list of the wines we drank. Here I've excerpted from her e-mail: 
Tormaresca Chardonnay IGT (which can be purchased in BC. This was that really lovely steal of a deal Chardonnay that you loved!  Kind of a cross between new world and old world chardonnay.  Has a great minerality, similar to Chablis)
Roycello, made from Fiano (more aromatic white)
Petra Bianca, made from Chardonnay (Richer, more full bodied than the Tormaresca)
Calafuria rose, made from Negroamaro (Red fruits, hints of purple flowers)
Morgicchio, made from Negroamaro (means "black bitter") (red fruit, licorice, spice)
Masseria Maime, made from Negroamaro (floral, black cherry, baking spice)
Torcicoda, made from Primitivo (intense red and black fruit, coffee, spice and chocolate)
Trentangeli, a blend of Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (this wine is big, smooth and rich)
Bocca di Lupo, 100% Aglianico (Big, full, rich black fruits, spice-incredible age ability)
Kaloro, made from Moscato (delicious dessert wine-apricot, honey, nutty, floral notes)

Is it goofy that I loved the floor enough to take (and post) a photo? The clever herringbone pattern of its bricks charmed me utterly (so much, that I didn't realize I'd caught that little tag of rug at the left, centre)
We also got to sample the yummy Fichimori, a red sparkling wine typically served chilled, made from Negroamaro and Syrah, in the care package that Giuseppe and Natalie put together when they heard that one of our young families had stayed home and that it was the young Mom and Dad's anniversary. I told you they were generous! Here they are giving us a huge bouquet of flowers to take back to Meg, Rob, and Harriet

This is the point we all said good-bye, and you may have realized that I've skipped the details of our lovely lunch. Honestly, memory fades on the specifics, but it was a wonderfully convivial occasion as you'll guess from these photos -- the wine bottles! the beautiful colours of the different wines in the glass! I can tell you that we were served a number of delicious, traditional Puglian dishes -- orrechiette with greens, if I remember correctly, was one of the courses; another involved eggplant, and there was a succulent stew which we guessed might have featured goat. 
A fabulous cheese board, that I remember (was the standout called caciocavallo or have I mixed that up?) and fruit and cookies. . . 
 This dessert wine tasted every bit as pretty as it looks -- don't the various wines comprise a charming palette?

A few of these wines are available in BC -- Joey sent me this list:

I'd be curious to know if you've ever seen the Tormaresca label where you are, and if you've tried any of their wines.

We're currently working our way through a case of the Chardonnay and a case of Trentangeli (30 Angels! How could one go wrong?)

And I feel as if, perhaps, I've finally fulfilled the promise I made oh-so-long-ago, and in some tiny way, tried to indicate our gratitude at the warm gracious hospitality we were extended last summer, in Puglia. What a lovely, lovely day that was. Thank you, Giuseppe and Natalie. Grazie mille! And thank you to my daughter-in-law for sharing the benefits of her career connections with us!

just realized there's another task I've been procrastinating -- I'd intended to get this photo printed -- Nola with her Mom and Dad taking advantage of  the comfy seating in rather photogenic surroundings.
So there we got. one long-procrastinated project crossed off the list. Doesn't that feel good when we do that? Have you managed to get anything similar done lately? Or perhaps you never procrastinate.  Do tell. And feel free to chime in with comments about wine, estate visiting, Italy, your version of winding down for the weekend, or any other loosely related topics.  . . .


  1. Yes it feels AMAZING to complete a long delayed task. And such a lovely post, with memories I am so happy you shared with us.

    1. It's always surprising to realize how much less work the task takes in ratio to the proportions given it by procrastination. . .

  2. Oh I can just imagine how amazing this tasting wasin Puglia and with your family all gathered together, it makes me want to weep... fabulous memories.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. It was a very special day. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  3. Reading this on a miserable sleety Jan morning in northern England is perfect antidote to gloom. Some years ago we had a similar experience in Sicily one evening on an olive oil estate. Food, wine, mini your all with pride and generosity. Of course we bought the blissful bottles which are hard to find here...tempos fugit, mater. What a time you had!

    1. Your climate is quite a bit like ours here on the coast, I believe. Italy's south is such a welcome contrast! I've never been to Sicily, but it has all those Mediterranean charms, no?!

  4. Great post! You have a lovely family and to be together in this beautiful setting with delicious food and wine sounds wonderful.

    1. Thanks, Brenda. It really was wonderful.

  5. Great post, and what a lovely day it must have been. I love that you still post these memories of your trip, even long after the date. I have just abandoned two posts from the fall, and you are giving me cause to reconsider my rash decisions.

    1. I've got a few more and yes, after a while, it seems better to just let them go, and yet. . . sometimes, those posts have something that still deserves to be shared. I suspect yours must have had. . .

  6. That is the sweetest photo of Nola and her parents. She looks just like your daughter.

    1. Isn't it sweet? She was clowning a bit, but somehow the lens caught her at just this moment, and I love the shot. Thanks.

  7. Procrastination - a much-maligned trait/habit/whatever. I have a strong streak of it, anyway. I believe that if it's good, it's worth waiting for. There - and this was good. Loved the picture and the smell of years of wine soaked into the stone walls and floor,. It came through strongly. Lucky you have had such a private tour and tasting with your own personal sommelier - and then lunch - a day for the memory chest, certainly.

    1. Ha! Good attitude! (especially if you're a natural procrastinator). We really were lucky and even luckier, in some ways, to be able to draw on the memory now and to imagine the younger generations talking about it in some distant future. . .

  8. I laughed/snorted when I read your question about procrastination. I put off things and then later, when the job is finally done, wonder why?
    Such a beautiful space for the tasting and producing of wines - reproducing the "cave" atmosphere of the early wine industry, perhaps?
    What a great memory to bring home from Puglia.

    1. That's what I mean, Lorrie, what I said above to LPC about the ratio between the proportions the task assumes and what it actually takes to get it done. You'd think I'd learn. . .

  9. A wonderful day , one of those that leaves a warm glow every time you remember it .
    Now our family is scattered about , long relaxed family lunches are the best treat of all .

    1. It's true about the warm glow. It reminds me that experiences, rather than things, are what I want to be investing in. And yes, long relaxed family lunches -- we've been trying to do a Sunday brunch, for now, as the timing's better with the little ones, but I love the long afternoon lunches our French friends have us over for in their back yard, course after leisurely course, several good hours of relaxed visiting. such a treat.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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