Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Suburban Goes to Italy 2009 - Part One

The few weeks before my annual buying trip to Italy is always met with a hearty mixture of angst and excitement. The angst comes from leaving my family and business for such a long period of time (this year - 12 days). The excitement, clearly, comes from the opportunity to travel to Europe and visit (and re-visit) the places that make the wine and the wine business so special.

This year, the whirlwind tour took me through all of Tuscany, parts of Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto. Starting in Pisa and looping through Montalicno, Sienna, and Florence, this was the first leg of my journey. Lessons were learned every step of the way. I hope to share my experiences with you through my next batch of blog entries, so please be prepared to either be bored to tears, or skip over large amounts of text. The choice is yours…personally, I would opt for a mixture of reading until you get bored, then, skipping the remainder of the paragraph.
First, a bit about me. I love to go places, but I hate to get there. Flying is not a fun experience for me, and an overnight flight is the worst possible scenario. Cramped quarters, bad food, surly service, and the wine choices….not so good. Having said that, Delta has a lovely flight directly into Pisa which really put us in the thick of it all right away…..boarded the plane (empty I might add), took off at 8:30pm; and landed in Pisa before 10:30am local time. Luckily, as I mentioned, the plane (a 767), had only 88 people on board. Certainly a better scenario that I had anticipated and it made for a much more pleasant flight (although the surly service and bad food was still there).

I ate (you don’t want to know), watched “Eagle Eye” (decent movie….I would give it a “7”), and caught about 3 hours of sleep (not as much as I would like, but enough for me to get by). Before I knew it, I was on the ground in Tuscany. Went through customs (which is a breeze compared to the US), grabbed my luggage and headed outside to pick up the rental car. We rented an Alpha-Romeo station wagon (there were 5 of us). Hopped in and headed straight to our first appointment, meeting Giorgio Rivetti at his Tuscan estate, where he makes Sangiovese based wines.

Giorgio is best known for the “La Spinetta” wines from Piedmont, but he spends a few days a week in Tuscany overseeing the operation there. The Tuscan operation is really something to behold. I will go into more detail in my next entry. I am hoping to give you a day-by-day accounting of the trip, and shorter snippets like this are clinically proven to prevent nodding off. Until next time – Lance Cerutti –

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