Monday, May 30, 2011

Cantine Aperte: Wine, Beauty and Song

We probably should have been more culturally minded yesterday.  After all, it was the biggest festa day that Potenza has to offer - the feast day of their saint, San Gerardo.  It is celebrated with a big costumed re-enactment known as the Parata dei Turchi (parade of the Turks) to commemorate a Saracen invasion and the saint's intervention on behalf of the citizenry to save them from the marauding invaders.

The problem is, we end up spending more time in the city than we'd like.  I was there all day Thursday acting as an interpreter for a food-related convention, and Bryan is there every weekday teaching.  We also make trips for various and sundry services and products that we can't find in the village.  We get a little tired of Potenza.  Couple that with the fact that Bryan hates crowds - which were guaranteed to be thick and pressing at this event- and the beautiful weather that had us craving some time in the countryside, and we ditched any hint of a thought of culture and headed for the low, rolling hills instead.

It was the Sunday of the Open Doors - an annual event known as “cantine aperte,” a nationwide day of wine promotion when about 1000 wineries throughout Italy throw open their doors for tours, tastings, and a bit of “neighborliness”.  While there are lots of wineries in Basilicata, only five were participating in the event, sponsored by the rather grandiose-sounding organization Movimento Turismo del Vino (movement for tourism of wine).  We had participated in the Piceno areas and enjoyed the chance to see the process up-close and meet the vitners.  And taste the vino, of course.  It's nice to know which ones are great...and which ones aren't worth plonking down dollars for.

The first cantina was gated, despite being listed on the line-up.  Hmph.  The second was one of the more famous in the region, located in Rionero in the shadow of Monte Vulture, famous for its previous volcanic activity that now gives us fantastic mineral water and the most noted wine from Basilicata, Aglianico del Vulture.  This cantina was fabulous with historic underground chambers where the wines are aged.  The stone-hewn corridors wend underneath the town's streets.  Really cool!  The pretty tasting room was decked out with snacks and little tables for relaxing and sipping.

Winery Number Three was in lovely Venosa, an enormous, industrial-type cooperative that offers decent wines at good prices but zero atmosphere and even less cordiality from the wine expert on hand, who resolutely ignored us while we toured the facility and he directed all his comments and blabbery dry information at the two young woman who accompanied us. 

But the final winery -just outside Venosa- redeemed the day.  They had a gorgeous hedge-rowed estate with a picture-perfect villa as the centerpiece.  An arbored terrazzo provided tables, and local food producers handed out samples of their yummy goods.  A musical group pumped out energetic folk songs which got people dancing the tarantella and other typically southern folk dances.  The cantina produces only a few wines, all excellent (in our non-expert opinions).

We tasted, then sat in the sun with the generous food plates they handed out and enjoyed the warmth, the music and scenery.  Beats the crowded streets of the city any day!


janie said...

Sounds like the perfect way to spend a day. When I was just in Lucca I was lucky to attend a huge wine expo with vintners from the area. Only wish I could buy some of them here at home.

Momma Jo said...

Sounds yummy! Much better than sticky & humid

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Sounds good to me and impossible to be in two places at once, anyway choices always have to be made, we would have made the same one.

Saretta said...

Sounds lovely!