Sunday, May 10, 2009

Italian Red from Heaven: Marco Donati's Taroldego

My husband and I went to Spiaggia for a quiet brunch today and lingered over a gorgeous meal that I'm going to think about for a long, long time. Aside from the food, which was equal parts artful and soulful, our waiter suggested a little known wine varietal in the US that was absolute love at first sip - taroldego, a red grape from the Alto Adige region in the northern Alps of Italy.

Drinking it brought back one of the sweetest memories I've ever had. About eight years ago, I zipped through Trento's back roads in a Ford Escort with two friends on our way to Venice, and in one of those great unplanned travel moments, we spent the night in Trento. Aside from knowing the incredibly useful fact that it hosted a Vatican council in the 16th century (um, not), I knew nothing about it. We arrived late at night, and all I could tell was that it was tiny, had plenty of medieval charm, and its residents were amused by tourists. We checked into the one pricey hotel because the rest were full. When I woke up the next day and opened the windows on our terrace, I was speechless. It was a bright May morning and had just finished raining. With the air sweet and clean, the misty clouds were still drifting in and out of the incredibly dramatic green peaks surrounding us. We spent the rest of the morning exploring its little nooks and crannies.

While the clean, flinty white wines of Alto have become relatively familiar territory since then, I don't recall ever seeing a red from the area. Today's 2005 Marco Donati teroldego had notes of that same sweet earthiness that I inhaled when I opened our terrace window years ago, which was like music to my nose. Aside from that heady memory, it was filled with bright fruit and a lovely structure similar to a pinot noir, with an unbelievably long finish that made my husband and I both sit quietly and smile.

In this case, Trento's terroir had the same effect on me as the town itself did years ago: a slowing of the senses to appreciate just how beautiful life can be.

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