I rarely find myself at a loss for words but I had an experience last week that left me speechless. A vineyard outside of Rome in Lazio, situated in the eastern arm of the region and almost touching Umbria, so special, so breathtaking, and filled with so much magic and poetry that it is hard to describe.
Noemia e Paolo d’Amico have created a ‘concept’ vineyard that rewards you at every turn with a different feast for the eyes, topped off by some exquisite wines. Enter – a manicured garden sprinkled with an eclectic mix of sculptures. Continue down a trellised-covered walkway lined on either side by reflecting pools, leading toward a smiling waitress ready to serve you chilled cranberry juice and refreshing water. Turn to your right and gaze at a spacious lawn outfitted with snow white ‘ombrelloni’ (BIG umbrellas) and overstuffed sofas to match that face a mountain ridge resembling the Great Wall of China in miniature. Honest! Next? A tour of the six-bedroom house for rent (I stopped counting the living rooms after three) with fireplaces aglow and lit candles throughout. Side tours included the covered swimming pool, steam room, sauna, and gym. Spa and hair salon services for the asking.
And then? And then!!! The actual wine cellar and the ostensible reason for my visit. Oak and steel barrels embrace each side of a sparkling tiled corridor, covered with area rugs, and leading to a cozy bi-level library. I imagined myself snuggled inside one of the overstuffed chairs, glass in hand and with or without a book in the other. Candles and low lights everywhere with Maria Callas’s voice filling every cranny.
Mind you, this is the lead-up to the wine tasting itself that takes place in yet another candlelit room. And mind you, my friend and I were the only tasters that day. To say the two whites (both Chardonnay) and two reds (a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Franc) I sampled were excellent is an understatement.
As we left, our charming hostess, Pilar, pointed to the red rosebushes at the end of each row of the vines. Once a harbinger of a disease that could ruin the grapes, they are now only used in homage to their once critical role. Vintners and wine aficionados clearly are familiar with this tradition but I wasn’t. For me, they were a fitting grace note to an unforgettable afternoon in the hills of Umbria.
Please see th website http://paoloenoemiadamico.it/ for a virtual tour, although NOTHING can compare with going there in person. Buon viaggio!
Watch episode eleven of the BBC’s The Wine Show for a virtual tasting of this vineyard’s award-winning Pinot Noir at http://thewineshow.com/uk/.