Episode #566 – A Huge Step Forward in Sonoma and a Huge Step Back in Italy!

This week, David decided he wanted to get out and travel a good distance, even if it is digitally. Today, he’s taking you all the way to Italy to talk about a really interesting project that is really reigniting a long-lost era of Italian winemaking. Joining David for the first half of today’s show is Piero Pavone, founder of Vinum Hadrianum, a winery on the eastern central coast of Italy that is breathing new life into an ancient Roman form of winemaking.

Piero Pavone, Founder of Vinum Hadrianum in Italy

Vinum Hadrianum is about 2 hours due east of Rome. It’s a project that was started by a group of people with extensive knowledge of the history and traditions of ancient Roman winemaking. we are talking about more than 2000 years ago. These wines were very popular during the Roman Empire and the ones produced in this regions were among the most expensive and sought after. The method used to make these wines is really quite different than what you would see at nearly all wineries, chateaus or any place that produces wine around the world. Aging takes place in clay amphoras which are very similar to those that would have been around 2000 years ago. These are wines that never see the inside of a wooden barrel. This region is world-renowned for ceramic production and so Vinum Hadrianum contracts with local artisans to produce the magnificent amphoras that replicate these much sought-after wines from thousands of years ago.

Chris Sawyer, internationally-renowned sommelier, wine educator, journalist, consultant, critic and public speaker, recently on The Varietal Show

During the second half of our show, David welcomes an audience favorite, Sommelier to the Stars, Christopher Sawyer, who calls Sonoma County his home. While many of us have been cooling our heels at home, Christopher has be in high demand on countless podcasts and other forms of social media.

Christopher says there’s no rest for the weary! “I have been doing more on Zoom than I’ve ever done in my life. I mean, I’ve been on over 35 shows. We did a great one called Cellar Pass TV. They’re like kind of a concierge group that really does a great job all over the United States in the wide regions.”

Perhaps the hottest topic wine-wise during the Covid-19 crisis is Virtual Tastings. Reluctantly, David admits that the concept may be getting a bit overworked and that perhaps we could come up with some new ideas. With that in mind, David poses the question, “Now that we are starting to see restaurants reopened… tasting rooms, not quite yet, what are the things that are changing that we’re going to have to get used to living with and will be the new dynamic going forward?”

Chris’ answer is priceless! “Some of these things are cool, like restaurants in Manhattan where they just bought a bunch of shower curtains and they put them between the tables. You know these plastic shower curtain so you can see the people over there but you’re not next to the people because you got a shower curtain between you? So you know there’s going to be techniques like this.” As always, we can count on Christopher to shower us with great ideas!

Today’s edition of Grape Encounters is brought to you by Total Wine & More, where you’ll find thousands of wines produced by folks who started with a dream and never looked back. Be sure to spend a little time online at TotalWine.com. You’ll be very glad you did!

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