This is Libby, our British chef, hard at work in the kitchen (no sign of a microwave, I snooped). She created the most amazing vegetable dishes for luncheon and provided, everyday at 4 pm, a delicious, warm from the oven, cake for tea time. I will sorely miss the 7pm dinner bell which summoned us to a 4 course dinner nightly. Big sigh.
Lunch and dinner were accompanied by carafes of white and red wine and bottles of water, still and mineral. I preferred the white for lunch, it had a slight aroma of sherry but was fresh, thicker tasting than Chardonnay, not sweet and not oaked.
But it was the red I really, really enjoyed. Being a fan of blends I knew immediately this would have to be such. As I was ready to pitch all my belongings and fill my case with bottles, I inquired of our host David where I could purchase it.
I was informed I could not. To make a long story short ( do I ever?) the delish elixir is the product of a local co op where the local grapes are blended, fermented and sold by the litre to those showing up with their own assortment of jerry cans. Poor me could never be so lucky as to take some home. David was very coy about the price, a good buy, was the most he would disclose with a sly grin. So of course I indulged every evening knowing I would never again taste such vino. And believe me, our gracious host never let the carafe become empty.
When we visited the castle we learned a great deal about how the handsome Marquese, Lorenzo, ran their operation. My photos of his casks and stored bottles are on a camera and can't be retrieved (yet). But I did recall a few interesting notes: they pick all of their grapes by hand when ready as they can be very selective as to the ripeness ( getting the female clusters only) and do not have the trouble later of sorting out leaves and sticks. Much better flavor he insists. The oak barrels come from France and the wood they are made with greatly affects the flavor. A small barrel costs about 700 E to purchase and will hold 300 bottles. The barrel size(they use 3 different sizes) is also an influence on how the aging proceeds. Each barrel is used for 5 years and rotated. The European community forbids the addition of any sugars, wine is strictly and purely, fermented grape juice.
During our tasting of 5 different bottles he also explained that a wine which drinks well young rarely ages well. Many that age well he explained are quite undrinkable for the first several years. And he made a joke about people rarely disliking a very expensive bottle because, as he laughed, when one has paid a great deal for a drink one is rather determined to enjoy it.
He explained a lot more about the grapes and the weather and so on but I was more interested in examining the round ceilings and stone walls dating back to the 14th century. It was naturally quite cool inside them.
So that is what I learned about wines in Italy. The reds are generally less expensive than the whites (no white at the castle). And despite the wonderful elegance of the Marquese, who sent us back to the Villa laden with opened bottles, I was looking forward to my co-op carafe of locally made red for dinner. I have simple tastes!