Hot, hot, hot… Veneto in high summer 2017

The river Isonzo, which  runs north-south on the western side of Gorizia was briefly swollen by the dramatic downpour that marked the first evening of our return to the region. We just made it to the Tre Amici restaurant before the heavens opened.

Hic sunt aves said the notice on the northern bridge – and indeed there was a small flock of geese enjoying the currents – but no lions or bears….

Why Gorizia, of all places? Well, David was intent on making good some of the lost tasting opportunities of the spring and I’m still in thrall to it, or at least, its hospital, which we solemnly greeted as we drove past. Déjà vu…

Gradis’ciutta’s white wines from Collio are exceptional : made from Ribolla Gialla, Friuliano, Sauvignon grapes – and not easily mistaken for the region’s ‘orange’ wines, made by bare-footed Dario Princic from the same grapes but grown on Ponka soils and macerated on their skins for months, as for red wines…

Damijan Podversic demonstrated a two-wheel stool/scooter designed to make life easier for the vineyard worker. His vineyard is in the wooded hills a few kilometres to the north of Gorizia

And I still can’t work out how a crane this big made it along the narrow and winding white roads to reach the remote site destined to be the new winery

The next day we left the Urban Homy apartment (no – the receptionist didn’t know why it was called that either!) in Gorizia and headed west for Soave, where Stefano Inama greeted us warmly with a tasting, and then took us on a fantastic tour of the vineyards, and describing graphically the hot, hard work of those laboriously planting new vines and nurturing existing ones, on whom his successful wine-making depends.

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See winefriend.org for the definitive account!

Our next lodging – By the River Appartment – presented any number of challenges, beginning with parking. Those familiar with Verona will know the bottleneck at the top of town where the loop of the river snarles all traffic negotiating the northern routes. The one-way system certainly concentrates the mind …

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We had a room in the disused church in the centre of this photo; the third window high up on the right, to be precise. It was not as picturesque inside as it looks – and at night under the poorly insulated roof we were very hot indeed. An industrial scale fan made up for the ineffective air-conditioning, but we sweltered until the weather broke the following morning with temporali e lampi – thunder and lightening.  The temperature dramatically dropped by ten degrees in a flash.

Valpollicella is a few miles to the north west, along the slow-moving SP 10, and after a fascinating meeting with Andrea Sartori, head of the consorzio, we made our way to Quintarelli, whose exquisite winery is surrounded by just eleven elegantly terraced hectares. The cellar is immaculate. Beautifully lit, the skilfully carved botti are testimony to a life-long dedication to the making of high quality wine.

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Guiseppe (d.2012) and Franca (d. 2014) Quintarelli were responsible for building a now world famous business. The pelican carved on the botte below represents Franca and her four daughters, one of whom, Fiorenza, La Madre of Francesco and Lorenzo (both work in the business) has the final word – according to Lorenzo.

There was time for some sight-seeing and fine-dining in Verona, of course

I was rapt by the west end of the often neglected Duomo, in its relatively quiet setting well behind the Piazza dei Signori. And the short break ended with supper at Antica Bottega, where the sheer number of wines available by the glass makes choosing difficult.  But it was David’s starter of edible flowers that stole the show !

11 – 15 July 2017

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