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Of course, there are far more than just two Italians. In the many years of my "wine culture", there have been several that I know and appreciate. But compared to the French, Spanish, Austrians, Germans, and even the Swiss, there are only a modest few. Why is that?

That's how I got to know wine when I was three
Actually, there are only personal, more culturally rooted reasons for this, which are obviously deeply rooted in my soul. I can imagine that other wine lovers - with other countries and regions - feel the same way. But the two Italians have "stuck" with me.

Yet Italy is the first "foreign country" I encountered in my earliest youth, indeed childhood. His name was Luigi Perucini: an Italian with a huge moustache, a German accent and kind and friendly eyes. He was a construction worker and seemed to be almost always happy. He was so trusting that he even managed to wrest the attic garret from my skeptical grandmother, which had stood empty for years. There he lived alone with himself, his dreams of "Bella Italia" and his efforts to be a good Italian in Switzerland

I met him almost every evening when he came home from construction. "Häsch es guet, Peterli?" that's how he greeted me and I, the little "three-cheese high", grew fond of him. He always had a slightly dirty brown rucksack with him, from which a pot-bellied bottle peered or even dangled. This roundish, straw-enclosed, heavy bottle was the only tangible term for wine for me. Chianti, as I later learned.

For a long time, until deep into my student years, my wine preference was therefore limited to Chianti, it didn't even have to be the "classico", later it was also Barolo, Barbera, Montepulciano, Valpolicella and of course the Veltliner.

But then I fell in love with the French and left the Italians in the south. My semesters in art history did nothing to change this, although they frequently took me to Italy. Italy was and remained for me the land of art, France the land of wines. "Vin de table", the cheap ones, today I would say the "hooch".

Trip to the "Paese del Vino"

Italy only became a more interesting wine country for me again long after the "idolized" Bordelais. For a long time I was asleep! It wasn't the expensive Sassicaia, Solaia and other "Tuscans" that woke me up. Rather, it was a wine merchant offering not only Bordeaux, but - and far more sophisticated - a range of good Italians. In the meantime, I have reached the point where I occasionally go on Italian discovery tours with him. They often start in Friuli, go via Trentino to Lombardy and Piedmont, conquer the Barbaresco and Barolo regions, finally reach Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, penetrate Umbria, linger in Lazio to arrive in Abruzzo, Puglia and finally Sicily.

Wow, quite exhausting! And enjoyable. I could tell you about each of these imaginary stops. About the myths and traditions of Sicily, captured in "Di More", from the Fattrie Azzolino, of course, from "Nero d'Avola", but married with very little of the worldly Cabernet Sauvignon. From Tuscany, the home of the Sangiovese grape, where once the cheap Chianti came from, but which - for instance at the Azienda Agraria Poggerino - has turned into the elegant "Chianti classico". From Piedmont, the Barolo region, south of Alba, where an excellent "Barbera d'Alba" is pressed at the Azienda Vicivinicola Paolo Scavino, without barrique aging, fruity and elegant. From Trentino, where near Lake Garda Paolo Cesconi produces a Merlot that is not smothered in wood, but brings all the delicacy of the Merlot grape into the glass. From the Veneto, where there are also real greats among the mostly maligned Valpolicellas.

Acquaintances from Trentino% Tuscany and Piedmont

First, my wife fell in love with the one Italian, a neatly obese but not shapelessly fat Amarone from Lucia Raimondi at Villa Monteleone. It did not remain with a small flirt, from it a thick friendship became. Neither the far more distinguished "Campo San Paolo", a top Amarone from the same winery, nor the somewhat slimmer "San Rocchetto" from Luigi Lavarini could threaten it. Neither do all the other Amarones we've tasted so far - not even the much, much more expensive ones.

So it had to come to the point that I also sought the acquaintance, even friendship of an Italian, but this took much, much longer. Maybe it was my otherwise always denied Parkerglaubigkeit, which then gave the impetus, because Parker described the "Vigna del Vassallo" from Colle Picchioni as "Cheval blanc of Italy", a Bordeaux cuvee from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, but not from the Bordelais, but from the middle of Italy, from the Latium (Rome area). This has also turned into a "wonderful friendship", with which I have already fooled many of my Bordeaux friends. Disguised as a Trojan horse, it brings many a Bordeaux expert to distress.

Two "little Italians" that have stirred up our Francophile wine bliss.

Two little Italians
They are not quite "small", the two wines. Compared to the greats of Italy, however, they are modest, unobtrusive, but charming and reliable. They are worth as much as they promise. Expressed in plain numbers: the Amarone costs (in Switzerland) about 35 Euros, the Italian "Cheval Blanc" 22 Euros, all other wines mentioned between 11 and 24 Euros.

Conny Froboess felt it when she sang in her Gastarbeiterlied: "A trip to the south is chic and fine for others but two little Italians would like to be (with me!!!) at home" Conny will surely forgive me this little addition.

Yours sincerely, Peter