Oh yes, Beloved, the time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. Damn I need to memorize the rest of that poem. Now GF is home and brought Venison Wellington and also a cold virus. So now I’m drinking wine and eating Wellington and drinking Emergen-C. I can not miss any work! Although I’d love to stay home and write, it just don’t play that way in the service industry.
Yeah but shit I better get on this wine training thing. I was thinking I’d learn about wine while I was at work, but I’m always too busy working so got to figure it out otherwise. So I thought I’ll just bring home the bottles that we have for wine service and learn about them one at a time.
This wine is Tenuta della Terre Nere and I think it’s from Sicily. I’m reading The World Atlas of Wine on Sicily now. And GF and I are hacking and sneezing and my eyes are watering now. Shit!
I’ll just take one of these unlabeled pink pills I found in the medicine cabinet. That should do it. And more wine thanks.
Ok so it appears that Sicily is a place where a lot of other civilizations, or a lot of civilizations just, have made their mark and then evaporated. There’s some Greek temples, some Roman shits…something else up in there I’m sure. And it’s got so many different kinds of wine growing regions that the Atlas raves that it should be called a continent instead of an island.
You know, it sucks to get sick but I don’t mind so much. Just imagine if I had “suicide headaches.” Those are the unexplained headaches featured in such films as Darren Aranofsky’s Pi, where the pain is purportedly on par with childbirth (they know so because a mother contracted them). Well, you can do a lot of good living if you think, well shit, this sucks but what if this. Like yesterday I was kind of bored, but I thought about all the times I’ve been so hung over that I had to run to the bathroom to throw up between waiting on tables and how much that sucked and how I thought in those times that I would be so grateful to the world when the alcohol had gone because anything would be better than to have that hangover (not including suicide headaches of course). So at least I’m not hungover and working at a restaurant right now. Or at least I’m not inside an MRI. I did a bunch of MRIs at the NIH to get paid and I didn’t think I was claustrophobic but turns out I’m a little claustrophobic. I really had to focus on my breathing. And the first time I thought, well, once I’m out of here, normal life will seem like paradise in comparison to this shit.
But back to wine then.
Sicily is perfect for organic growing because it’s so damn hot that you don’t have to worry about pests. On the southern tip of the island, winds from Africa bring the grapes to boiling point, but inland, apparently, it is cooler. They grow these grapes that they usually use for Masala, called Cataratto…at least I think so.
In the mid 90s and I guess before that, Sicily made strong wine that the Italians would then use for blending. Now they are focusing more on quality wines that can stand on their own. The Planeta family has been largely responsible for this. They are trying to make the native varieties viable, even standing up against Merlot and Chardonnay, which apparently the Planetas are famous for.
Nero d’Avola is the most famous grape so far. Avola is in the southeastern part of Sicily. There is also Nerello Mascalese from the slopes of Mt. Etna, which I think is where my wine is from. The bottle just says Etna Rosso. Mt Etna is a live volcano, so these motherfuckers are crazy to be growing grapes on that shit. Oh shit! They’re talking about my wine now. Apparently Nerello is a part of Etna Rosso, which is supposed to be “spicy.” Well, yeah, I think this wine is pretty spicy. It tastes like dark fruit, even though I don’t eat dark fruit, and I guess really grapes could be a dark fruit, so it pretty much tastes like grapes I suppose. Big surprise there. It doesn’t seem to go very well with my venison wellington either.
Cataratto is the “workhorse white grape of the west.” And they got some moscato type grapes round there and some malvasia, which is a word I hear a lot.
So looks like Terre Nere uses simple vinification processes instead of getting all fancy with it. They put the wine in 25% new oak and they bottle it without filtering it after 18 months. The vineyards are way up on the mountain so they get hot direct sunlight but cold nights, which makes for elegant wine as opposed to the high alcohol intensely flavored southern Sicilian wines. This is some of the highest grape growing type shit going on. This is some risky business going on. Anyway I got all that from a “Winemakers Note” on some wine shopping web site.
The volcanic eruptions leave deposits of volacnic soil, which creates an easy draining terroir with little nutrient density that makes the grapes struggle to grow, which can generally make good wine.
Well, everyone is saying it’s light bodied and great with red meat but I did not find it to be so. Of course, I am having a hard time smelling so that could do it. Also I don’t like wine. But I’m working on that.