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Tramonti Diary: The Oldest Vines
Almost every viticultural area has its artists: people who do more than just grow grapes and make wine from them. Often they work with their grandparents’ vines, gnarled stalks that evidence fifty or even a hundred years of careful annual pruning. They produce soulful wine from their grapes, where the human component of care is so pronounced that one quickly sees — and tastes — that there is more than an economic activity under way. When we visited Tenuta San Francesco in Tramonti, a town just shy of the mountain pass that separates the Amalfi Coast from the Naples plain (scene of heroic fighting by Darby’s Rangers in WWII), we expected excellent wine, a dedicated vigneron, and the usual orderly rows of old grapevines. We were surprised:
The winery has 15 acres of vines between 250-300 years old, which are trained out on trellises to create a cooling canopy over the vineyards. These old vines — the oldest in the world? — somehow resisted the phylloxera louse that ravaged almost all of Europe’s vineyards in the second half of the 19th century, and continues to attack ungrafted vines to this day.
Tenuta San Francesco’s top red wine, È Iss (Neapolitan for “That’s It”; the Italian would be “È questo!”), made from the indigenous tintore grape, is light on its feet and yet also seems to have the stuffing to age well. But that judgement will have to wait for our two-case order to reach Paris in October — we asked Tenuta San Francesco to ship when the weather is cooler — so that we may live with the wines for a while. Tasting in situ can be deceptively seductive.
Addendum: In our visit with proprietor Gaetano Bove, he had us taste È Iss before and then again after eating a few local blackberries. One went from wine to fruit and then back to wine again quite seamlessly and delightfully, though the wine took your palate to places that Mother Nature alone could not.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…