Somehow, the last harvest of the year came around just in time for my friends from England, Australia, Verbania, Latina, Ascoli Piceno and Caserta, Italy, France, and finally a combo from Italy/India/Kent.
Will, Julia, Ema, Raffa, Fabio at the duomo of Ascoli
(England x 2, Australia, France and Italy/India/Kent)
Dining al fresco at Il Desco, my favorite restaurant in Ascoli, with a very well behaved dog!
We were quite the international crowd picking the Montepulciano grapes which had reached 24 Brix, 7.2 Total Acidity and a pH of 3.5 or nearly perfect with all brown seeds and reasonable, not aggressive tannins. While the yield was much lower this year, the grapes were all healthy and we finished in a single day. As a reward for their fine labor, I treated everyone to a meal/festa in the newly finished tasting room with its great views under a great autumn sky with only the peace and quiet you find here as an accompaniment.
Giorgio lighting the votives
The ladies set up votive candles all around the winery inside and out and it was really a fitting closure to what has been a truly tough year of work and stress and worry about the weather.
The next day we headed into Abruzzo to Campo Imperatore under the Camicia mountains where films such as Ladyhawke, Krull, The American and others were filmed and where Mussolini was kept a prisoner after Italy surrendered in WWII and before the Germans broke him out of his hotel/jail.
Mt. Camicia, 2590 meters
Emma, Will's fiancee
Matteo, one of Italy's most decorated young sommelier and classmate from my slow food master
Its nickname is Italy's little Tibet and it is a huge plateau and home to a bunch of shepherds, one of whom has capitalized on the suggestive scenery and built an abattoir for sheep with a large grouping of bbq grills suitable for ribs, cutlets and the specialty, arrostocini abruzzese which are little skewers of the best mutton you will ever eat!
My group with the family
Raffa from the Rhone valley with his prized arrostocini
One of the cooks, Valentina handing out the last one
We joined Fabio's sister Nisha's in-laws who treated us to a feast unequalled in my life for this type of meat! The spices were subtle and perfect, the meat was perfectly cooked and there was non of the flavor I associate with older sheep/mutton. The area looked a little like something out of Mad Max, to be honest, but was a true "italian experience". I can't imagine this type of thing anywhere else in the world and the place was packed on a Sunday with daytrippers and campers.
Father and son enjoying the wide open spaces of Campo Imperatore
Bacco digesting all the bones and sausages given him by the folks
BBQ Abruzzo style
Bacco found one on the ground and took advantage
Raffa from France, Silvia from Latina and our masters and Silvano, our great host/cook
The best arrostocini in the world
Right our of Mad Max, lighting the charcoal with a huge propane tank