Wine and memories
Last night's wine took us back almost exactly 20 years, bringing back in a rush a slide-show of recollections of the first wine trip to Europe my wife and I took together, back in 1982, a happy tour of sightseeing and wine tasting from Rome through Tuscany and Umbria, to Florence and Perugia and tiny hilltop wine-producing villages like ... Torgiano.
This little town, not far from Assisi, is dominated by a single winery, Lungarotti, which is not only a largish wine producer but owns and operates an excellent hotel and restaurant and one of Italy's more interesting wine museums. Lungarotti's trademark wine, Rubesco, had caught my attention back home as an Italian red of real flavor interest and value - it must have sold for less than $5 at the time - so it was a particular pleasure to visit the winery and join an international panel of wine writers as a judge at an all-Italy wine competition there.
Frankly, I have been away from Rubesco for many years. The winery went through a period after Dr. Giorgo Lungarotti's death in the 1980s during which its wines seemed to take a turn for the ordinary. But I spotted the label the other day and, prompted in large part by happy memories, decided to give it another try. I'm pleased to report that, while its price has tripled since those old days, it does seem to be back on its form as a warm and appealing table wine. (I'm also saving for a special occasion a pricey bottle of its high-end red, Rubesco Vigna Monticchio, a 1990 vintage that was held at the winery until its release just last year.)
Lungarotti 1997 Rubesco Rosso di Torgiano ($14.99)
FOOD MATCH: Fine with a hearty dish of lamb meatballs over penne pasta in a fresh tomato and green pepper sauce.
WEB LINKS: The winery Website, which also includes information about the Lungarottis' hotel, restaurant and museum, is at http://www.lungarotti.it/, (in Italian), with an English-language version at http://www.lungarotti.it/welcomei.htm. The U.S. importer has a Lungarotti fact sheet at http://www.paternoimports.com/products/lungarotti/default.asp.
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Friday, Jan. 11, 2002