You might think this week's email is a plea to conserve what's left in our local reservoirs. (Thankfully as our rainy season seems to be off to a promising start we did not have to resort to this!) I was inspired however by the recent discovery of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine winery in Gaza, just south of Tel Aviv, that was the largest in the world during its time. Back then, wine was crucial to life, and was often drunk instead of water because it was considered safer— people often got sick from contaminated water. The winery was built on such a scale that it could produce two million liters (about 250,000 cases) of wine a year, and was exported all over Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa.
It is always amazing to me just how long we humans have had a relationship with wine. There has never been a god of coffee or tea, and trust me, the British should probably have one for the latter, but the Greeks created the god Dionysus, which was later picked up by the Romans as Bacchus, to signify the importance of wine in society. I think most of us here agree on this point with our ancestors. Ancient wine is the theme this week, as we spotlight a wonderful red from a little-known grape called Schiava, which has been farmed since Roman times. Traditionally grown in northern Italy in the Alto Adige, this was the main red grape in the region for many years until recently.
Farm workers would drink 2 liters a day to hydrate and get energy! However, due to its difficult nature to grow well — it is very thin-skinned and susceptible to mildew — and the extensive 'pergola' trellising it requires (see picture below), it has dwindled to less than 5% of the total vines in the area today. This is in fact a huge pity as with care and attention it can make some wonderful wines.
2020 Eredi Di Cobelli Aldo Schiava ($24) is an elegant, medium-bodied red with an ethereal, almost effervescent quality that’s not dissimilar to a lighter Pinot Noir in the mouth. Beautiful, bright autumnal flavors of rosehips and raspberries overlay cedar and pine. It is best served just slightly chilled (put in the fridge for about 30 minutes before drinking). This wine goes so well with roast chicken and a salad of figs and blue cheese, or pork chops with roast apples. Actually, I’d even have it with turkey for something a little different this Thanksgiving.
On the note of holidays, we love putting together fantastic selections of food and wine for friends, and their companies. We can ship to most places in the U.S. as well as internationally. Do reach out and we can work with you to create something special. We do recommend placing your orders early this year because of current global delays with shipping and logistics. Learn more here.