We begin December, by looking at my favorite travel destinations with my all time favorite place, including a recommendation of the wine that changed my life, the culmination of a 30-year career in the wine trade.
If you’re in Little Rock on Dec. 18, meet me at Salut! in the Heights neighborhood. Salut! is on the first floor of the Prospect Building, take Grant Street one block south from Cantrell Avenue. There will be wine and pizza, including manager Dave Bisceglia’s Italian Sausage Pizza family recipe. No reservation needed, just drop by from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $20 a person for four wines and lots of pizza.
Try a new wine this week!
Rosa di Rosa
Most of you know, that for many years, I’ve taken small groups to wine regions around the world, to South America, France, Spain and Italy. My favorite place is a quiet corner of the Apennine Mountain foothills in northern Italy, between Bologna and Milan, Emilia. It’s a land of castles, scenic mountains, great cooking and wine.
This beautiful area is a foodies’ paradise. It’s famous for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, prosciutto, and traditional balsamic vinegar (the first word tells you that it’s the good stuff, concentrated from many years of barrel aging). Emilia is also the birthplace of pasta, and home to many of Italy’s best chefs.
I met my friend Giovanni Sidoli at his rural estate that he’s been restoring for 20 years. Perched on the shoulder of a very high hill, the breathtaking view from his restaurant looks north across the Po River Valley to Alpine glaciers. The massive, historic stone building also contains half a dozen suites, exactly the kind of place where I like to stay-shuttered windows, beams in the ceilings, antiques, etc.
This is my favorite place to visit, and the reason that nearly 50 people came by to see Giovanni during his recent trip to Arkansas.
The people who have traveled with me to this region have stayed at Giovanni’s inn. For years, I’ve told only told those who accompanied me on our food and wine trips about this, jealously guarding my secret slice of paradise. But now I’m ready to tell you that Giovanni’s estate is called Cavazzone, and the Web site is: www.cavazzone.it.
I found Cavazzone after a group staying in nearby Parma departed, and Mrs. Cochran and I wanted a quiet place to relax, burn wood in a fireplace and read for a couple of days. I met Giovanni in the parking lot, and within 10 minutes we were off to a nearby winery. That changed my life.
During my many trips to Cavazzone, people kept asking about a local wine. Was it available in the U.S.? After enough people asked, I got the necessary permits to bring it here.
Rosa’s berry-like flavors taste very much like taking a handful of ripe berries and just cramming them into your mouth. Lovely red/purple color, lightly sweet and semi-sparkling, it’s bursting with delicious flavors, delightful on its own and perfect with chocolate. It’s made from grapes grown in the foothills between Parma and Modena.
If you know me, you probably know Rosa di Rosa. It’s been called the perfect red wine to introduce your white wine loving friends to the joys of reds. I don’t know of a better wine for holiday groups, especially when you don’t know what everyone likes.
Nearly every wine store in Arkansas sells Rosa now. It retails in the $10 to $15 range.