Travel Tuesday: Umbria Uncorked

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.”  Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Ah yes the perils of travel, why is that "getting there" often seems to be the most challenging part of the journey? For some, there’s the fear of Turbulence? The plane shaking like a can of sardines in the hands of a hungry shopper, this I can handle with ease, thanks to many early flying experiences in the back of a C-130, those were interesting times. For me, the most dreaded parts of flying are the unexpected delays, due to various issues, typically occurring attempting to catch your next flight in a different terminal.

The other anxious moment, you've just flown across many times zones to a different part of the world, you rushed to each gate to catch your next flight, but you're left wondering did my luggage make it? I’m not the frequent flyer type by any stretch, but one thing I fear the most when traveling; it happens when I’m waiting at the baggage carousel, gulp. While every other passenger is picking up their bags and heading off to their final destination, I keep watching the luggage carousel go round and round. There is no worse feeling in the world when you’re the last one waiting when the carousel shuts down (sigh).

This is when I have my moment of panic in which I think, “Ugh, oh-no..…I've bet on red and the roulette wheel ball of travel lands on black. Ugh, no they’ve lost my bag, dammit." That is when I realize the cheap T-shirt my wife told me not to wear feels so much more valuable and comfortable than it did a few hours ago. Then it hits you, I have absolutely no idea how clothing sizes work in a different country, sigh, ugh, oh-boy this going to be interesting. This very situation has happened to me more than once, so it taught me some valuable travel lessons as a result; give those connection times a bit more of interval in-between and be sure to put your flight info on the outside of the bag.

So while yes I was in beautiful Rome, the eternal city, and all set for another press-trip with a fine cadre of wine writers, grape-folks who I had only known by reputation at the time. My expectations for a fresh change of clothes sadly got sideways real quick. Okay, okay I know enough of my wine-ing right? It's time for the fun stuff, the review of another wine chock full of soul and substance.

Nonetheless, I'm still delighted to have attended the International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop in Umbria, Italy back in 2011. It was a fantastic experience and an amazing opportunity to sample the great wines of Umbria and meet all the fabulous folks behind the labels. Everyone I met whether winemakers and/or producers what really stood out was just how passionate about they all were about experiencing life, they have a [don't miss this] "a deep rich history that ties together the present, giving a vision for the future."

So, all you Tuscany wine fans, do yourself a great big favor and check into Umbria, there's a multitude of new and different wine finds just waiting to be uncorked. They have an abundant selection of food-oriented wines that dance on your palate while playing nicely with the food on the table, wines that are very compelling. I had been here now a total of three days when I realized that not every wine works, but the ones that do, they hit every cylinder, especially for you "slow-foods" fans and adherents.

So for the first wine in the "Umbrian" review spotlight will be the 2009 Barberani 2009 Rosso, this wine which sells most places [yes, even here in the states] for about 12 Euros. This wine is a delicious blend of three grapes; including Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and rounded out by a bit of Merlot. In the glass a vibrant ruby-red color. On the nose, you'll find a delicate bouquet, a wine destined to make your lunchtime much brighter.

Its nicely balanced persistence of ripe cherry, dark plum, wrapped in a piece of fresh leather, just makes your food sing. I found this wine to have a silky mouthfeel, although a bit dry, soft on a nearly bitter finish eroded by the accompaniment of a nice baguette and a few slices of prosciutto. Wow, what a beautiful body and a clean character, not a rough edge in sight.

This wine can easily handle a large variety of food, but some grilled or spit-roasted red meats, like fresh Umbrian boar, marinara sauce spilled over some freshly made pasta. I highly recommend this wine for everyday drinking and award it 88 points. What are you waiting for, grab yourself some of the Umbrian experience to see what I'm talking about until next time sip long and prosper cheers!


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