Today I want to write you something that has nothing technical or constructed... but is just a little diary of the heart. On the occasion of the birthday of 'Mamma AIS', I want to let myself be carried away by passion... and tell you about how my love for wine has evolved. And why I am here today and why Perlage Suite exists.
I was just 18 years old when I first heard of the Italian Sommelier Association from Mirko Morini (now AIS Alta Romagna vice delegate). I was immediately fascinated by this world, although I understood little about it, especially wine. I came from a home with a drinking culture that was certainly slightly above average, but the wines that went around were mainly from the supermarket and were always the same four grape varieties: albana, sangiovese, teroldego and greco di tufo... with slight variations towards falanghina.
I had my first glass of wine in August 1990, when I was just over 5 years old, it was sweet Albana and I was in the workshop with my grandfather pretending to restore a late 18th century dresser. My grandfather was a restorer of antique furniture, and he was very good at it. I loved hammering nails into the cherry wood with my little hammer that he had made for me. Grandma Mira had brought us a big glass of fresh Albana, a deep golden yellow that I still remember, covered with a silver coaster to keep the dust out of Grandpa's workshop. It was love at first sight. From there my afternoon activities included going to the vats with my grandmother to press the grapes harvested in our garden, where there were a few rows. We used to make very good juice... and wine, if you could call it that, cheap. Grandfather stood at the window, a small mirror hanging in the frame, and he still shaved with the brush and razors of yesteryear. He would look at us and smile. I loved them above all else and will never cease to say thank you to them for the wonderful childhood they gave me, surely the most beautiful I could have wished for.
It was early July 2013. My grandmother was terminally ill in an old people's home. I grew up with her, and she was always a bit like my mum. My state of suffering, for a love ended in October 2009 that I may never forget and for my beloved grandmother who was dying, was so strong that it led me to shut myself away and write for hours, not feeling hungry or thirsty.
The Last Crown of Roses It owes its name to the Rosary, a long pearl necklace that I have seen slip countless times through the hands of my beloved grandparents who, with absolute certainty, I know never worried that the object that chanted their prayers was the illegitimate child of the blood of the Crusades in the East.
This collection is the dedication I give to two splendid grandparents, bearers of a boundless faith equal only to my empiricism. Aware that I have suffered so much that I am no longer able to feel emotions, today, with this work that almost stands as a liberating cry amidst mountains of loneliness, I beg myself to rediscover feelings. And, like everything else in my life, I do this methodically. So I have divided the collection into five posts of ten grains each, like the ancient rosaries. And I hope, with every cell in my body, that at the end of this work, which has lasted just one day, I will be able to fully savour every nuance of light of any moment en plain air of a midsummer that I also want to be hot in colour.
I said that this collection is the work of a single day because, with the exception of the first six poems of the third post, "The White Canvas" of the fourth post written last Monday, and the entire fifth post introduced to explain my current feelings, which are based on writings made between 2004 and 2009, (and the last seven poems of the fourth post "On the Future" which were written later) all the grains present I wrote today, Friday 13 July, between 6 and 10 p.m., throwing up one word after another. Only at the end did I realise that I had created for myself a beacon to run on my next horizon. A historical memory within me capable of guiding me when today's disposable emotions try to drive me back to sentimental shipwreck.
Chiara Bassi, Post Scriptum of The Last Crown of Roses
The blank canvas
I would like to live on a lake.
But I will not carry a blank canvas
with me only a frame
antique, recycled, elegant
I will contour the setting sun
the resting bum
the old woman watching
the running child
the nesting swan
my home, among homes.
mastery is confused
with the master.
From 'The Last Crown of Roses', post four: On the Future
Like an omen, these words crept into me. It was Monday 8 July 2013 when I spoke that I would surround my lake house with a frame. And tomorrow, Wednesday 8 July 2015, on a totally random date that I did not even propose, I am going to see my house, among houses, on Lake Iseo.
I made this decision instinctively, albeit completely by chance. I had to go and live in Ravenna, in Via Cerchio, with my closest friend. We had already signed the proposal, then the contract. I had already cancelled my flat. On the day of the handover of the keys, five days before we had to move out, the owner quarrelled with his ex-wife (co-owner of the house) and we found ourselves with the super prick of being homeless. I believe in numbers. I believe it was a sign. For a month I look for a house in Ravenna, but nothing feels mine. And then her, that top floor overlooking the lake that passes before my eyes by chance, without even looking for her. She creeps in like an idea, as I write to Michele Bozza of La Montina, my favourite winery in Franciacorta... which I can't wait to see again tomorrow. Love at first sight. And I decided in a second. My life is there.
I have always had a natural aptitude with this land, which has led me to have special friends around Bergamo. First of all Annabella Brumana, who when you think of a lawyer you think of everything except a girl of such beauty and sweetness... whom I have adored for four years now... and whom I will be happy to finally see on a regular basis. Then Alessandro Milesi, who for the very fact that he plays my favourite musical instrument, the organ, is a sort of divinity for me... and he is also a very sweet guy with whom I have a 'score to settle' at the Collegiate Church in Rome. And lastly Gianmarco Gabrieli, who was the great 'mistake' of my life back in the days when I was founding, a mistake without which I would not be doing my job today and for which, if I think about it rationally, I have never been happier to make a mistake in my life, he was close to me and I still feel a great deal of understanding. On Gianmarco I want to make a further note... The Pinco Pallino s.p.a. produces luxury children's clothing... that is, the clothes I grew up with, which my mum and dad used to buy me at Pierrot in Milano Marittima. I remember the hours spent on that white bench with the back made of children's drawings looking at a frou frou white fur coat... that drove me crazy and I was happy to wear the following winter. Finding out that the company I had adored since childhood was in his family made me smile. It sounds like a cliché, but sometimes it is really amazing how small the world is.
Until a couple of years ago I was not particularly fond of bubbles... then I discovered the classic method and finally Franciacorta. It may be sacrilege to most, but in all honesty I wouldn't swap La Montina's Riserva Villa Baiana for any Champagne, not even the most noble. And I have drunk many... but not because I do not appreciate Champagne, far from it! I simply feel this wine is closer to me.
You may be wondering what this speech has to do with Mama AIS's birthday... I'm actually talking out of my ass, it's true... but there is a meaning to it, as in all things. And the sense lies in my immense and infinite love for wine. A love so great that I have only decided on my home by following the land of the wine I love most. Of course, deciding to change not only city but region in a week, and always in a week finding a home in a country where I know no one can smell of madness. But it is not madness, it is simply freedom. To be free to seize the moment, I have chosen to do a job that I can do anywhere with my MacBook and a simple Wi-fi. I couldn't live any other way.
Today the AIS is 50 years old. I have always heard conflicting opinions about my beloved Association. To anyone who thinks badly of it, I can only say that it is made up of people. And that is why it is not perfect, it cannot be. There are many things inside, like a mosaic of different tiles. Some shine with an intense colour, others are anonymous and perhaps a tad ruined. I have heard that it is a chauvinist association, but the Ravenna vice delegate is the beautiful Raffaella Sangiorgi, and the Rimini delegate the 'provocative' Nunzia Tesoro. (For those who wonder why I used the term provocative, I advise them to read HERE). I have heard that the president is a lying whipping boy who treats everyone with superiority, but I met him at the 30th anniversary of Loazzolo DOC with his wife Ilaria, and he made a very beautiful impression on me: of a man who knows who he is and what he wants, knows where he stands, but is still a child of his humanity and humility. I heard that thesommelier examination it's a silly formality within everyone's reach, but when I did it a bunch of people flunked. I've heard that the AIS is biased and that's why some people don't join, so as not to be conditioned... but there is no such thing as being biased, the Association is made up of members and that's why there are biased members and non-biased members. I have heard of polemics, frauds, lies... but I see every day the love that people like Carla Giorgi, head of the service group of the Alta Romagna delegation, put into it... she is a woman of dazzling frankness and beauty, and just to meet her alone is worth going to an event of this delegation.
Mama AIS is Mama AIS. With her mistakes and her poems. But to anyone who rejects her without having met her, I can only say that the wine culture that Mamma AIS teaches, you will hardly learn anywhere else. With Mamma AIS you can have a difficult relationship, but it is only after you have met her that you can feel grateful for what she has taught you.
Today I say thank you, Mama AIS. Because without you my love for wine would not have had the same awareness. Those who talk behind you do not know you. Or perhaps they know you too well, which is tantamount to not knowing you at all.
Happy to start a new adventure in AIS Lombardia, I hope to still be alive in another 50 years to be at your side and in the front row to celebrate your first centenary.
With immense love,
Thanks to Domenico Manzari for unwittingly 'lending' me the picture of the swan.