Monterosso Val d’Arda Festival 2013


To celebrate the Monterosso Val d’Arda DOC, the producers of this region held a festival last weekend in  Castell’Arquato, about 30 minutes from Piacenza.  The program, slightly altered because of the inclement weather, consisted of several formal tastings led by a sommelier and the producer, as well as a salon with a couple dozen local producers who presented around four wines each.  Coupled with the sociability of the winemakers in this region, even this small salon made for a busy afternoon of tasting.


We started with a guided tasting of wines from Tollara, including a Spumante (Méthode Champagnoise) and their “I l Giorgione”, which is made from surmature grapes of the Bonarda variety,  along with a generous plate of local charcuterie.


A sampling of some other wines we tasted and particularly enjoyed :

Nontiscordarimé (“forget-me-not”) – Il Rintocco (DOC Monterosso Val d’Arda)

Colli Piacentii – La Boca (DOC Monterosso Val d’Arda)

Ortugo – Azienta Vitivinicola Pusterla (DOC Colli Piacentini Ortugo)

Antiquum – Cantine Campana – (DOC Colli Piacentini Gutturnio Classico Riserva)

Barolo Wine Museum

Last weekend, while I was at the Collisioni festival in Barolo, Piemonte, I visited Barolo’s Wine Museum, housed in the sumptuous Falletti Castle overlooking the vineyards of Barolo.  

Interestingly enough, for me at least, the museum prides itself on the way in which its designer and curator François Confino “has designed a stimulating voyage that combines scientific content and poetry.”


The curation of the museum was fascinating, as it uses very simple displays to portray its vision.  Unlike many wine museums, it is sparse in its use of language, rather relying on imagery and sensory experience to send a message to visitors.  This approach serves to educate the visitor, but in a subtle way, preferring to suggest than to inform.

My personal favorite exhibition was one dedicated to the hands that produce Barolo wine.  The walls were lined with gorgeous black and white photographs of hands working in all aspects of wine production, all in a room containing only a player piano, meant to elicit an appreciation for the hands that are integral but invisible.  I thought this was a beautiful and simple concept, and paired with the stunning photographs left a lasting impression.

There was also, to my pleasure, an entire floor of the museum dedicated to wine in culture – art, cinema, food, and literature, which, I think, encourages visitors to appreciate the impact that wine has had in all facets of culture, due to its importance and interrelatedness with history, to which the museum also devotes considerable space.


Celebrating Wine

On Saturday I helped pour wine at the Wine and Food Festival in Christchurch. I was stationed in the Riedel-sponsored seminar tent (and for a wineglass nerd like me, it was quite a spectacle just to see the sheer number of glasses used for this event – and knowing their retail value this made my head spin a bit – but I do believe we went the entire day without a single broken one!), which played host to several New Zealand wine experts, including Bob Campbell, Jo Burzynska, Yvonne Lorkin, and Garth Gallaway.  The seminars were intended to be fun and informal, with themes ranging from playing up New Zealand whites other than Sauvignon Blanc to learning how to pair wine with music (interestingly, the only time I heard scientific studies mentioned at any point in the day was in this seminar taught by Jo Burzynska – the juxtaposition of music- undisputably an art, with science in this seminar was certainly not lost on me, though in this case the science was used in an attempt to lend validity to the assertion that music can affect the taste of a wine.  Honestly though, to me, trying it out for myself* was far more convincing than hearing about a tiny smattering of scientific studies on the subject).

(“Riedel Seminar Lounge”)

Over 50 South Island wineries were also represented at the Festival, and I had a chance to briefly meet a few of these people (including people from The Crater Rim, Pyramid Valley, Neudorf, The Third Man, Pegasus Bay, and Allan Scott) though most of my day was spent pouring wines for the seminars (this also meant that I did not have the chance to hear any of the Kiwi bands that played, but getting a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at an event like this was worth it).

*Possibly an interesting experiment to try at home?  The idea is basically to taste a wine in silence as well as with a few different styles of music, and see if you get different aromas/flavors/associations from the same wine in the different auditory environments.

**Of the couple bottles of leftover wine that I brought home and took to a friend’s birthday BBQ the next day, the favorite actually happened to not be a New Zealand wine but a Portugese bottle called DouROSA from the winery Quinta de la Rosa in the Doura region.