holly2.jpgDi Karen Phillips

Ok. Here is the scenario. You are a group of actors from Hollywood visiting Naples for a couple of days to thank the ‘troops’ for all they do. During your visit, you have a strong desire to try the best Italian wines the country has to offer. What do you do? Where do you go? You decide to call the Winerdì team from Ciao Vino to help you fulfill your wish!
Monday evening, Fabrizio Erbaggio, Vincenzo De Meo, Cinzia Dalmonte, and I had the pleasure to present Italy through Wine to a group of very special people from the ‘States’. Wanda Colon from TLCs ‘Home Made Simple;’ Bill Brochtrup from NYPD Blue; Daphne Reid from Fresh Prince of Belair; James Reynolds from Days of our Lives; and Lissa Layng from movies ‘Say Yes’ and ‘Night of the Comet’ were ready to embark a journey through this beautiful country with us. Fabrizio enjoys talking about wine. I am always excited to see what he chooses to degustare during our wine tastings. He selected well, even Vincenzo was impressed.
First Round –White Wines. We began in Friuli with one of their most popular indigenous grapes; Ribolla. The wine was Ribolla gialla from producer Girolamo Dorigo. A fresh, young wine that none in the group had tasted before. Next up, a winery close to our hearts, Feudi di San Gregorio from Campania. Fabrizio picked their Pietracalda made with the most popular white grape from the region, Fiano di Avellino. Very impressive. The group noticed instantly the difference in aromas and how this wine had a fuller body than the one previously tasted. Once again, a new wine for our small gathering of friends. Finshing off our first round was a big white from Siciliy-Insolia (Sauvignon). Vincenzo explained that though the Sauvignon grape is an international one, its characteristics have changed somewhat due to the growing in the volcanic Sicilian soil. So Nozze d’Oro from producer Tasca d’Almerita was a popular one of the evening.

Second Round-The Reds. What a selection! Fabrizio felt we should start in Piemonte with a Barolo from Fontanafredda (2000). Mmmmmm! The aromas, the body, everything you would want in a grande rosso made from the Nebbiolo grape. Next wine-Tenuta Silvio Nardi with their Brunello di Montalcino (Sangiovese grape, Tuscany region). A little smoother, a year younger. Finishing off the reds was THE red of the south-Taurasi Radici Riserva from Mastroberardino 1999 (Aglianico grape, Campania region). I was speechless. One of the smoothest Taurasis I’ve tasted. The cherry aroma is still imprinted in my mind. What a way to end the wine tasting! The tasting was over, the evening wasn’t. We learned that James and his wife Lissa were celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary that evening. Fabrizio pulled out a couple of bottles of a French champagne from Bruno Paillard, Rosè Première Cuvée S.A. We drank a toast to the happy couple.
Cinzia, at this point, opened the buffet. E che buffet!!! Pizza, insalata di rinforzo (made with cauliflower, olives, peppers, and anchovies), gateau (a potato dish made with pancetta and cheese), a beautiful braid of mozzarella, and a crowd favorite-lasagna alla contadina (a lasagna made with potatoes and pumpkin).
All good things must come to an end. After a great meal and great conversation, we said our goodbyes. At the end of every Winerdì, Fabrizio always wants to know which wine was the favorite-the decision was split. Daphne Reid was hooked on the Brunello while Bill loved the Ribolla gialla. James, he was already a Barolo fan so the choice was not so hard for him. Wanda, Lissa, and I loved Bruno Paillard’s Rosè. An amazing bunch of people who we had the pleasure of sharing a small part of Italy (and a little bit of France) for a couple of hours one cold rainy, Napoli evening.
Fabrizio, Vincenzo, Cinzia, and I began this Winerdì series a few months ago. What a great way to end the calendar year. I can’t even imagine what is in store in 2010!