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30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Wine legends: Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio

One of the most enjoyable things about wine is the way that so many intriguing tales and legends attach themselves to specific wines. Even if it doesn't make a bit of difference in the way the wine tastes, there's something especially appealing about a beverage that comes with a built-in story.

The Italian red wine we sipped Saturday night (the notes are below) carries such a tale: Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, "The Tears of Christ of Vesuvius."

Made from vines grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius near Naples, Lacryma Christi takes its name from the old story told by John Milton in "Paradise Lost," when Lucifer and the fallen angels were cast out of Heaven.

According to the Italian version of this legend, as Lucifer went overboard, he grabbed a chunk of Paradise and carried it with him as he fell, dropping it on the coast of Italy at the foot of Vesuvius, where it framed the bay of Naples.

Seeing this loss, the story goes, Jesus wept; and the tears watered those heavenly slopes. Where they fell, vines miraculously sprang up, becoming the vineyards from which Lacryma Christi comes.

The legend is so old that it may pre-date Christianity. The wine writer Burton Anderson, in the sadly out-of-print "Vino," says a similar local legend attributes the vineyard-producing tears not to Christ but to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. (It's not clear exactly what Bacchus was crying about.)

This is just one of dozens of interesting, sentimental or historic stories attached to wines. If you would like to read more, you might enjoy Hoke Harden's article, "What's In A Name?" on Wine Lovers' Page at http://www.wineloverspage.com/reports/name.shtml.

If you have a good wine-related story or legend that you would like to share, you're welcome to join a discussion in our online Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. The link http://www.wineloverspage.com/cgi-bin/sb/index.cgi?fn=1&tid=16576 will go straight to this topic. Or send me E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com, and I'll save them for use in a future report. I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note. But I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

Please tell your wine-loving friends about The 30 Second Wine Advisor (weekly) and Wine Advisor Express (daily), and invite them to register for their own free subscription at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor.

30 Second Tasting Notes:
Lacryma Christi
Lacryma Christi Mastroberardino 1997 Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio ($20.99)
Very dark ruby in color, almost black. Plums, a whiff of white pepper and a hint of smoke in the aroma lead into a full and ripe flavor, juicy plums and prunes, with sufficient acidity for balance. An interesting wine, but the price pushes the limits on value, particularly in contrast with the $14.99 I paid for the 1996 vintage a couple of years ago at the same shop. Younger vintages are already on the market; even if the legend appeals to you, shop with care. U.S. importer: Palace Brands Co., Hartford, Conn. (May 19, 2001)

MORE DETAILS: Made in red, white and rosato (pink), Lacryma Christi is made from Southern Italian grapes rarely seen elsewhere: Piedirosso and Olivella, which are locally known as Palombina and Sciascianoso, and up to 20 percent Aglianico, for the red and pink. The whites are made from Coda di Volpe (locally Caprettona) and Verdeca plus optionally a little Flalanghina and Greco.

FOOD MATCH: Roast chicken with garlic and rosemary.

Favorite Wine Link:
The Pompous Twits
Jerry Rose and Tom Regner are the contact folks for the Pompous Twits, a tasting group meeting on either a lily pad or, more often, at Rue de Main Restaurant Francais in Hayward, California. The members of the group are neither pompous, nor twits, and in fact have a great mascot, the Honorable V. Pompous Toadus. They keep very good tasting notes and seem to have a great deal of fun. http://members.home.net/pompoustwits/TwitsHomePage.html.

If you enjoy surfing the Web for wine-related topics, check our our recently updated and revised Favorite Wine Links, http://www.wineloverspage.com/winelinks, the intelligent wine lovers' guide to the best of wine on the Web, where - with the help of a band of hard-working associates - I have assembled links and reviews to about 1,000 wine-related Websites that I've found of special interest.

30 Second Advertising Partner:
Essential Wine Tasting Guide
Essential Wine Tasting Guide For a wine-tasting mentor that fits in a shirt pocket, check out Glen Green's Essential Wine Tasting Guide.

Glen, a wine lover and professional wine maker in Australia and France, has created a remarkable little quick-reference guide to serious wine tasting in a portable format that literally slips into your shirt pocket, wallet or purse. Slip it out, open it up, and it unfolds to reveal 34 mini-pages of compact wine-tasting information including more than 1,000 specific descriptions to help guide you in the analytical tasting of wine.

I was so impressed that I asked Glen's permission to offer the Essential Wine Tasting Guide for sale on Wine Lovers' Page. It's $8.95 plus $2 shipping and handling in the U.S., $4 in other countries. If you would like to take a closer look, the Guide is on display at http://www.wineloverspage.com/guide.

30 Second Administrivia
This free E-mail publication is distributed to subscribers every Monday, and our daily Wine Advisor Express goes out Tuesday through Friday. Previous editions are archived at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor/thelist.shtml.

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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time at the Wine Lovers' Page, http://www.wineloverspage.com, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials. If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, click to our interactive, international Wine Lovers' Discussion Group forums, http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum.

Vol. 3, No. 18, May 21, 2001

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