Thursday, January 08, 2009

Palazzetto Ardi's Rosso: A Fine Organic Wine

About 15 years ago I visited an Organic Fair in Piemonte, where about half the booths featured wines. And didn't find one worth drinking: They all stank, and when I said so, the winemakers looked at me with horror in their eyes, and said "But they're Organic!" This quality was, as far as I could tell, the only reason to buy them.

Times have changed considerably, and now the only way you'll be able to tell many wines are organic is to read the fine print on the label. Or to visit the winemaker; Carlo Sitizia contacted me a couple of years ago and asked me if I could stop by Palazzetto Ardi, the place he and Michela Cairolaro had taken over.

I said yes, and after Vinitaly drove towards Vicenza, and then ventured out into the flatlands south of Gambellara following his directions. The road was about as wide as my desk, with a drainage ditch alongside, and I confess to wondering what I was getting into.

All doubts vanished when I turned onto their drive: Palazzetto Ardi is a beautifully restored 17th century farm complex with livestock, fields (Michela was picking asparagus when I arrived), and a small but impeccably kept vineyard. Which produces excellent wine:

Entusiasmo di Palazzetto Ardi Vicenza Doc Rosso 2006
Lot 1/2007
This is a Cabernet; it's delicate ruby with brilliant reflections, and has an elegant bouquet with forest berry fruit supported by cranberry acidity and delicate vegetal accents. Deft, and lithe. On the palate it's medium bodied, with brambley cranberry-forest berry fruit supported by clean scrappy tannins and sour berry fruit acidity that flow into a clean fruit-laced finish with cranberry underpinning. Quite nice, in a scrappy tomboyish key, and it was a perfect match for the creamy radicchio risotto my Mother-in-Law was serving as a first ocurse, while it also had the body necessary to work well with the roast lamb that followed it.
Worth seeking out, and you can expect the bottle to go quickly.
2 stars

A little more about Palazetto Ardi: Michela and Carlo both did other things before marrying and deciding to withdraw from the grind of city life. And like many people who have decided to follow this path, they have done so with considerable enthusiasm; Michela is an accomplished chef, and in addition to offering hospitality they hold classes for local school children, organize cycle tours, and do much more.

In short, if you're planning to visit the Veneto and are willing to drive or take the train (there's a station nearby) you should consider staying at Palazzetto Ardi.

1 comment:

carlo sitzia said...

Thank you Mr Phillips for your opinion on our wine !

In France they call our wine "Vin de soif "
I feel like a "garagiste" only a pump no filters, no yeast, a little sulphites,all manual managing and the bottle only when the malolactic and the proteic fermentation are over after 11 moths of steel tank stay.
The analysis of the wine is always available to show the SALUTE! in every bottle.

Carlo Sitzia