As if we needed one, I know. But this weekend I re-learned the ability of fine wine to create terrific memories of good friends and good times.
We took a ten hour drive to Stuttgart, Germany. Pam, who lives there, is my oldest friend. We met more than 33 years ago. In that period we both traveled through careers in the military, suffered through multiple knee surgeries, made other friends, and each of us got married.
In the years we have lived in Italy, Pam and her husband Steve visited frequently. Those visits often included nights with a great bottle of wine. Sometimes two. We took them to different wineries for tastings and tours and to introduce them to our friends who made the wine.
Sadly, last November Steve succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Since his birthday was in October, we wanted to spend a weekend with Pam. Once in her house, we scrambled down the stairs to her cantina. We found a bottle she and Steve had bought on their first trip to see us in Verona. Opening it was an easy choice. We stuck with our “wine you bought during visits to Verona” theme and carried some others upstairs, too.
We started with a 2001 La Grola from Allegrini. It was a blend that followed the imagination of the enologist, so is called simply Veronese (“from Verona”). Meanwhile, we opened and decanted a 1991 Amarone from the Masi winery.
Full disclosure: I generally don’t buy from those two wineries any more. They make excellent wines, and always have. Allegrini is widely considered one of the top three (out of many hundreds) winemakers around Verona. The reason I don’t buy them is they have been “discovered” by wine media in the US, and their prices have soared.
That said, these bottles were purchased many years ago at very reasonable prices, and stored in a cool basement in central Germany, waiting for this past weekend.
The La Grola was excellent. Undertones of wild berries and tobacco, mild tannins, no trace of oak.
The Amarone was superb. I am a big fan of the traditional wines from around Verona, and Amarone is the undisputed champion. The drying of grapes before pressing results in a concentrated cherry and raisin flavor matched by few other wines anywhere.
Enjoying those terrific wines and chatting with our dear friend, we shared fond memories of Steve. We made a short trip out to BarenSee (“Bear Lake”) in Stuttgart’s suburbs, to sit on the bench Pam had built as a memorial to her husband.
Thank you, Allegrini and Masi for giving us a moment to celebrate a great guy who lived a great life and enjoyed great wine.
Rest In Peace my friend.