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More from Day Two at Aspen

By Dave Buchanan
ASPEN - I first met David Lynch through his 2004 book “Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy”, although earlier I had heard his name after Lynch snagged a James Beard Award for wine writing while at Wine & Spirits magazine. But it was Vino Italiano, which he co-authored with restaurateur Joseph Bastianich, that helped open the doors to the multitude of wines offered from Italy, with its 300 official growing areas, more than 360 authorized grape varieties and literally thousands of wine producers. Actually, Lynch’s book covers “only” 200 of what he considers this amazing country’s top wine producers, but that was plenty for one book. I mention this because today I enjoyed Lynch’s afternoon tasting seminar on Italian wines during the 26th annual Food & Wine Classic here in Glamour Gulch. Even though the seminar took place about 10 minutes (walking) from the heart of the Food & Wine Classic, there were few empty seats. And Lynch, a delightful and entertaining public speaker, didn’t disappoint us, telling stories about his trips to Italy’s wine regions while poking fun at wine snobs and those who can’t get past the Big Three varietals. The seminar was titled “Insider’s Guide to Italian Wines,” and Lynch steadily emphasized the role of what’s called “ambiente” In italy. That translates to, well, Dottore Jeremy Parzen is much better at this than I, but environment is close, although it means so much more than simply terroir. It’s about the how wine is key to Italian culture, and Lynch brought this home, taking us from Apuglia in Italy’s “boot” to Sicily and all the way north to the Valle d’Aosta, where it’s still not cool to taunt the border guards. “One night we drove to dinner and had to go miles around and around these small roads because the border was closed,” Lynch told the packed room. “And we could almost see where were going from our starting point.” Lynch’s secret favorites? They include a 2007 Les Cretes Petit Arvine from Valle d’Aosta; 2004 Nino Negri Valtelina Superiore “Le Tense” (Lombardia); 2004 Benanti Etna Rosso “Serre Della Contessa” (Sicilia); 2004 Contini Cannonau de Sardegna “Inu” (Sardegna); 2003 Tormaresca Salento Negroamero “Masserie Maime,” (Apulia); and the 2002 Feudi di San Gregorio Vigne de Mezzo Aglianico del Vulture “Efesto” (Basilicata). And yes, the vulture in del Vulture refers to just what you think. But the wine isn’t dead, it’s very much alive. Smoky and dark, almost ink-like in color, “a wine not to be trifled with,” as Lynch put it. And at $30 retail, a wine we all can enjoy. More about the Food & Wine Classic soon.

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