Mon 5 Jan 2009
The 12th Day of Christmas falls on Monday this year, a work-day, and back to work for me, blessedly off since Christmas Eve. Twelfth Night was traditionally a festive time, with feasts and music and plays, such as Shakespeare’s great comedy of ambition, crossed love, mistaken identity and chastisement, Twelfth Night, or What You Will. We live in a different world than that of medieval and renaissance England, however, less attuned to the year-long procession of holidays and fetes that once ruled the rhythms of people’s lives, even through the 18th Century.
Well, no matter. I suppose I try in my way to reinforce the sense of Yuletide gladness through this “12 Days of Christmas” countdown with Champagne and sparkling wine — because what beverage is more festive than a glass of pale, invigorating bubbly — though I have been deeply suspicious for decades about Christmas itself and its meaning and my place in it. A different bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine every day goes a long way toward dissolving end-of-the-year depression.
So, let’s close this second annual countdown with a glass of the delightful non-vintage Marcato i Prandi Durello, from the Lessini denomination of Italy’s Veneto region. Lessini is a hilly area lying between the venerable cities of Verona and Vicenza; it received official DOC status (denominazione di origine controllata) in 1987. This light, bright, uplifting sparkling wine is made primarily (85 percent) from the rarely seen durello grape; the rest is chardonnay.
The color is pale gold; the bead is flowing and nicely expressed. Scents of bread and biscuits, wet stones, lemons and almonds stir in the nose; the entry is soft, at first, but the wine turns austere toward the finish with steel and limestone, though the overall impression is of spicy citrus flavors and a hint of toast. The mantra here is “Easy to Enjoy,” and truly, the personality is gratifying for a sparkling wine made in tank, that is, not receiving a second fermentation (and bubbles) in the bottle. Very Good. About $16.
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.
The Marcato Durello Brut would be a good sparkling wine to sip while watching one of our favorite movies, the Twelfth Night (1996) directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Imogen Stubbs as Viola and Steven Mackintosh as Sebastian, the brother and sister separated on the coast of Illyria by a shipwreck, and Helena Bonham Carter as the aristocratic woman who is somehow in love with them both.