Life is rich. Since I have been promoted to “wine buyer” for the best liquor store in Canada my schedule is full. I’m booking almost two weeks in advance and daily have to reject requests for appointments simply because my schedule is too full. It’s a great problem to have. Luckily Chris made this appointment well in advance.
He invited me to lunch with Susanna Grassi from the winery I Fabbri in Tuscany weeks ago. How could i say no? Lunch at Canteen with one of my favorite reps +The chance to meet a maverick winemaker from an organic family concern in Tuscany+An hour away from the demands at work.
We met at noon and I got the last of the free parking on 124th street. We had that great table at the back of the restaurant and Chris introduced me to Susanna Grassi. She is tiny. A wonderful pixie woman with an infectious smile and a palpable love for the work she does.
Her family has cultivated vineyards and olive trees since the 1600s. She represents the 11th generation of that venerable family and is the first woman to run the estate. In short, she rocks.
She works nine hectares of vineyards on ancient terraces using only sustainable practices and with organic certification. She also grows beautiful purple iris. The roots are used in the production of perfume in Provence.
I sat down and as we began to talk she referred once or twice to a small handmade book that cradled pages of photographs and hand written notes. Greedy, I asked if I could look through the book. She was delighted to hand it over and I spent the next twenty minutes or so ogling the precious artifact. In addition to photos there were original labels from the 1920s and pictures of her with her children in the vineyards. It was truly a privilege to leaf through those pages. I was brought to the edge of tears more than once. It was just such a sweet thing put together with a friend of hers and chronicling the history of her place in the world.
The first thing we tasted was a wine that she made in response to the 2006 decision in Chianti to eliminate white grapes from the accepted blend. What was she to do with a vineyard full of Trebbiano and Malvasia? The wine is not available anywhere. I think she said she made eight hundred bottles and I got to taste one! It was rich and round and aromatic and just wonderful. Another verge of tears moment. But there was more!
Olinto 80% Sangiovese 20% Merlot aged in traditional concrete tank. – Gorgeous clear mid ruby hue. Aromas of grandfather’s sweater (I often get from Sangiovese). Lush nose of blackberry and plum fruit. Big open attack of plummy fruit, firm elegant tannin and balanced acidity. Extremely long finish with lovely drawn out details. ❤
Terre di Lamole 90% Sangiovese 10% Canaiolo – Super clear mid-light ruby hue. Pumpkin spice nose on a tangy red fruit background with clear cedar highlights. Bright open attack of black and red fruit riding on wide open tannins. Super expressive with a long evolving finish. ❤
I Fabbri Riserva 95% Sangiovese grosso di Lamole 5% Canaiolo – Glistening mid ruby hue. Aromatic nose of cedar and pomegranate, super black plum and snapdragon flowers. Big plush attack that opens wide on the palate expressing black forest fruit with red fruit highlights. The tannin plays across the palate sinking deep and staying put. ❤
Due Donne 50% Sangiovese Grosso di Lamole, 50% Schioppettino di Prepotto Vini Iole Grillo (This is a wine Susanna makes with her friend Anna, driving individual demi-johns through the Tuscan hills and meeting at a predetermined place so that Anna can do the blending and bottling.)- Clear mid ruby hue. Pretty nose of black currant and red raspberry with hints of spice and milk chocolate. Notes of wet cardboard and magic. Big serious attack of lean dark fruit that plays brightly across the tongue and compels a person to take another sip… and another… ❤ ❤
There is not much more to say. The wines speak for themselves. Susanna, Chris and I spoke about our children and the privilege of watching them grow. We talked about important things and trivial things and then it was time to go.
Thankfully as all this was transpiring, Frank and Andrea’s wonderful staff at Canteen provided a delicious meal and wonderful ambiance. Best Wednesday ever.