We begin December with the first of two special issues for fans of the Wine Century Grape Club. This first week is also good for travelers. Tasting wines from 100 different grape varieties takes a while, so we’ll discuss two terrific grapes this month that few people have experienced.
I should have my Web site, brucecochran.com updated soon. The wine business has been pressing me a little recently, so I’m a bit behind schedule. I’m excited about my new, modern Web site. I’m looking for photos of wine regions, if you’d like to send them to me I’d like to post them on my new web site for all to enjoy.
Try a new wine this week!
One of my favorite places to visit is the Lakes District of northern Italy. These are natural lakes formed long ago by Alpine glaciers, stretching across the country from east to west.
Como, north of Milan, is the most famous, especially since actor George Clooney purchased a villa there. I’ve passed by it many times with groups as we’ve taken boat trips from the town of Como to Bellagio. West of Lake Como is another large lake called Maggiore. It’s most famous for the resort town of Stresa, and played a prominent part in the Ernest Hemingway novel “A Farewell to Arms,” a 1932 Academy Award-nominated movie starring Gary Cooper. Both Como and Maggiore stretch into Switzerland.
Between them is a lovely smaller lake, Varese, with a great wine bar in Azzate, that I like to visit when I have a little time to kill near Milan’s main airport.
But for a variety of scenery, great wines, accessibility and medieval towns to visit, I head for Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. It’s between Milan and Venice near the Romeo and Juliet city of Verona. Just off the A-4 autostrada, between the provinces of Lombardia, Veneto, Trentino and Emila-Romagna, you can get to many places from there, and there are many places to see on and near this beautiful lake.
You can see some of Lake Garda’s dramatic coastline in the most recent James Bond movie, and for some of Italy’s greatest wine country, Valpolicella and its best wine, Amarone, are near the eastern side.
But the west side is where you won’t see any Americans. That’s where you’ll find the Trevisani brothers’ family lakeside estate. One of Gian Pietro and Mauro’s wines is made with a grape named Rebo, after the professor who developed it. Its parentage includes merlot, and Rebo has merlot’s deep purple color. It has more body and backbone, though, with intense flavors of dark fruits balanced with a touch of oak from nine months in barrel. It’s made in extremely small quantities.
If you’re pursuing the goal of tasting wines from a hundred different grape varieties, the list thins out pretty quickly after a couple dozen. I thought of this when I tasted Trevisani’s Rebo last year at their estate in their excellent restaurant. The wine is Trevisani Diana from Lake Garda. It’s 80 percent Rebo and 20 percent merlot and I’m a big fan. It retails locally for around $20.