I’m on the high speed train on the way back from Verona. I spent two days in area focusing on the red wines of Valpolicella and the white wines of Soave. I based myself in the beautiful Roman town of Verona although I spent one night in the country town of Negrar. I took a direct train to Verona from Turin, after a long weekend in Turin at the Slow Food Salone del Gusto and the Three Glasses or Tri Bicchieri 2009 wine tasting from Gambero Rosso, Italy’s leading wine guide. I spent Friday working at Gaja, my last day in the Barolo region. I drove to Turin with the Vietti team on Saturday afternoon. I checked into the Le Meridien, adjacent to the convention. My memory was a bit fuzzy as I reacquainted myself with the city; it had been six years since I was in Turin last, also to attend Salone del Gusto and the Three Glasses tasting. After checking in(and finding an unmade room!) at the Le Meridien Lingotto, I called a new friend, Michele, who was working with Slow Foods for the event. We met at Silvia Altare's place earlier in the week. He is the slowest bin washer I've ever met. Michele showed me around the administrative offices and poured me a glass of Billecart Salmon. I hadn’t purchased my ticket yet for the wine tasting but he was able to procure two tickets for us, a 140E value, a benefit of being part of the event staff. As we walked around, I joked with Michele about his facebook photos. He has only one album entitled, “Mare”, translated to English, “Sea”. He was obviously happy with his physique. Michele explained to me that he was a reformed athlete with two previous knee injuries but the potential for a third could suspend any physical activity, hence his retirement. Now, he focuses on making Piedmont negociant wines under his Martinetti label and the delicious Grom gelato.
The four floor tasting was in full swing when I arrived. It is a visually stunning place as the swirling floors were used previously as part of the driving practices as the building was part of the old Fiat factory. I started on the third floor where Tuscany was situated, moved my way to Piedmont on the fourth, continued with whites and rich Veneto wines on the second and finally finished on the first floor with sparkling. The tasting was sometimes overwhelming with its staff of producers pouring the best of Italian wine. I was seduced by one wine; the newly released 2001 Conterno Monfortino was sublime.
After the tasting, I walked the various stalls of the Salone del Gusto sampling cuisine from artisan producers from all over the world. I tried some Spanish fava beans, Swiss cheese, Italian gelato, German sausage… little nibbles of fantastic sweet and savory bites lured me from left to right. I decided to close the evening at 9pm in the Enoteca, a bar featuring hundreds of different glasses of wines, with the focus on Italian wines. It had been a long day and I was looking forward to going to my hotel room to watch Mad Men, Season 2 so I quickly tried flights of prosecco and Francicorta sparkling wines. Oh and I had some of the super delicious gelato from Menodiciotti 18! The hotel recognized their error so they upgraded me to their sister hotel, the five star Le Meridien Art and Tech. Very nice hotel with a fantastic breakfast. While waiting at the Le Meriden Lingotto, I met Guiseppe, the owner of the Chianti winery Felsina.
Fast forward five hours… now on a train to Lyon. Spent the afternoon in Turin. Actually I spent the afternoon at the most fantastic “store” called Eataly, “Eat Italy” near Turin Lingotto. I can spend hours shopping in food and kitchen supply stores and days in wine stores. This is one of the best stores in the world! Mix elements from Dean and Deluca, Whole Foods, Williams and Somona, Chelsea Wine Vault and Harrods and you've got a semblance of what this place is. I indulged in the delicious Agrigelateria, a must if you like ultra premium gelato. For lunch, I purchased a freshly made bagette, salame cotto grand fette, jamon iberico bellota, culatello dop fette, vitello tonnato, foccaccia with gruyere and arugula, an aged goat cheese called gaperon, and a tart sparkling lemonade. Yum!
Verona is a beautiful city. Based on recommendations from Alan, I stayed at the Romeo and Juliette hotel. Great location, clean, and very reasonably priced. As Alan recommed, I headed to Verona Café for an obligatory appertif, an Aperol spritz, a rose colored prosecco drink. And of course, I headed to Legendary Bottega del Vino.
Alan also recommended that I seek Mario, who showed me the extensive wine cellar, treated me to dessert and other wine goodies.