Conte Vistarino-staying in a 18th cent. Italian villa while sipping on Italian pinot nero

Oct 06, 10 Conte Vistarino-staying in a 18th cent. Italian villa while sipping on Italian pinot nero

Posted by in Italy

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that we were going to be staying in a 17th century Italian villa. I was wrong. We stayed in an 18th century Italian villa. I really should pay more attention to my notes. I was looking forward to a bit of rest and relaxation after all that sparkling rose at lunch. As we wound through the hillsides of Oltrepo Pavese, past rows and rows of vines, I idly wondered what this villa would look like. In my mind, Italian villas are terracotta roofed edifices set atop dusty brown hills. I think I’ve watched Under the Tuscan Sun too many times as the Villa Fornace was nothing of the sort. The family seat since  the 1700′ s it was originally designed by Achille Majnoni, personal architect to King Umberto I with additional wings added in the 1800’s. It wasn’t exactly like visiting Versailles but close enough. I was afraid to touch anything but Ottavia, the contessa, assured us that the villa was used by guests on a regular basis. Some of those guests from the past have included the British Royal Family, who liked to use the villa as a base for their hunting trips in the surrounding countryside. We were greeted by two members of the Giorgi di Vistarino family, Conte Carlo the patriach and Ottavia, his daughter. Ottavia now runs the Tenuta di Rocca de Giorgi estate and gave us a brief run down of the history of and philosophy behind the wines of the estate. Pinot Nero was introduced to Oltrepo Pavese  by their ancestor, Carlo Giorgi di Vistarino in the late 19th century and the family’s objective has always been consistent. To produce wines that are elegant and authentic while also reflecting the terroir of the region. Ottavia said they don’t want to be Burgundy clones but rather want to make wines that are uniquely Oltrepo Pavese and at the same time showing truly quality pinot nero. Ottavia has visited the great estates of Burgundy and...

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Cruase – Italian sparkling rose, yes, I said rose, wine

It’s Italian week here on the Winesleuth. Yes, more stories and wine finds from my recent trip through Lombardy in Northern Italy. I like rosés and like sparkling rosés even more. Italy’s not really known for their rosés, let alone sparkling rosés but that’s all about to change thanks to the Oltrepò Pavese consortium. Oltrepò Pavese is located in the region of Pavia, Lombardy on the 45th parallel, the same as the region of Burgundy and like Burgundy, the region has historically grown pinot noir or pinot nero, as they call it in Italy. The Consortio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese has taken as it’s mission to produce naturally sparkling rosé wines from the region and launch them onto the world. Cruasé is their sparkling rose, the name being a hybrid of the words cru and rosé. In an interesting twist, while researching the history of the region, it was discovered that in the 17th century, cruà was the name given to vines and the wines that were produced in the region. Cruasé is made in the  traditional method and have a minimum of 85% pinot nero with the remainder being made up of the local varieties. It’s a DOCG wine which means that there is are strict rules and regulations regarding the production of the wine before it can be labeled and  sold as Cruasé. I was quite delighted to be offered a glass of sparkling rosé as soon as I arrived at the restaurant, straight off the plane. We tried Cruasés from various producers and I found most of them to be clean and fresh but not terribly exciting. The reservas, however, now there was something to get excited about. Aged 24 months on the lees, these were the ones that I liked best but you know, I always go for the oldies. The wine was showing very nicely, candied red fruits on the nose and palate with that familiar aroma of a bakery on a early Saturday morning hovering above the glass....

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