Friday, April 13, 2012

My Italian Children

It is said crappy soil makes the best wine. Likewise, the people that spring from that earth as well are something special. Siblings Valeria and Riccardo Losi I have known since they were babies, Riccardo playing soccer with my son in the craggy lot and Valeria being held by her mom as she had recently arrived on earth. And while they have their very own dad, who is a friend and very cool, I kind of think of these two as my kids too.



Last month after a grueling Vinitaly and heading from the Maremma to Siena for an unforgettable meal, I texted Valeria to see if they were around and if I could stop by for a short visit. “I am just sitting at the computer, staring at the screen. Of course I would rather be outside on this perfect day. Come by after 1 PM?” So I ambled around the roads, slow dancer style towards Querciavalle.

Querciavalle isn’t a bombastic wine. The Losi’s are not bombastic people. No, the wines and the people genuinely reflect the land they sprang from. Last week in Bordeaux every chateau I visited talked about their terroir. I get it. Bordeaux has terroir. Well so does Tuscany. And a spring day in Tuscany can pretty well much beat the best day in Bordeaux. Sorry, my French friends. I love you too. But the softness of the land, the weather, the food, the glorious food, beats Bordeaux for me every time. And the wines, well let’s just say there are family resemblances to the core of my being. Sauternes or Vin Santo? Hold the foie gras; just pour me an extra share of the Vin Santo. While visiting, Valeria brought out a bottle of their 1960 Vin Santo. “This was made by my great-grandfather, Tranquilo.” She said it as though she were re-introducing me to my Italian grandfather, the one I never met.




And while I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Valeria, and would do anything for her, looking at Riccardo and how he has grown into the role of the winemaker, the vineyardist, the vignerone, I am so proud of him. Riccardo is shy, not like the Gallo Nero that struts so proudly on their property. He is a little wild, like the animals that he loves so much. Wild, not as in untamed and uncivilized, but wild as in untainted by the outside world. True to his terroir. I love my Italian children so much.

This has been a really tough week on the home front. I wake up feeling sympathetic pains my gal has sustained in real life this week from being hit by an SUV. I know we will get through this like we have gotten through so much already this year. The last three months have been like five years of pain and anguish. Not to “cry like baby”, as my pal Guy Stout likes to say, but I am a bit overwhelmed by life in these here United States right now.

Riccardo and Valeria with their Italian papa, Pietro

Me and my "Italian children"
So when I get to the tipping point, I think about my kids in Italy and their family and their land and their animals and their wonderful salami and their smiles and their ever so steady trueness to where they live and who they are and the wine they make and I am calmed. I have called Querciavalle Chianti Classico for years a wine that steps out of time and the confusion and commotion of civilization and hearkens back to the origins and the reason why Sangiovese is so perfect for this area. It is not a wine that shouts. It murmurs. But in no way is it a wine that is weak or wimpy. It is deep and rich and unique and it takes time getting to know it. Just like my little family on the hill overlooking Siena, with the crappiest soil and the most beautiful view in the world.


From Valeria's Facebook page
"Voglio vivere così
col sole in fronte
e felice canto
beatamente...
voglio vivere e goder
l'aria del monte
perchè questo incanto
non costa niente"

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