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12.22.2004

An Italian Prince and His Magic (Moldy) Cellar

Thanks to Jack, a regular reader of Vinography, for the tip on an excellent -- nay, enchanting -- article by Eric Asimov in today's New York Times about an eccentric Italian prince, Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, who started making wines in the 70's by himself on his estate, and prior to his recent passing, handed over his 14,000 bottle cellar to be distributed (once everything was extracted from a carpet of white fuzzy mold that covered everything (including the barrels during winemaking, according to those familiar with the Prince's operation.)

His story is a perfect wine fairy tale for the holidays:

"A fine white mold grew naturally in his cellar, covering the barrels and the bottles that he stored in neat stacks. The prince did nothing to remove it; he believed it was beneficial....

'[His wines] are treasures. They're wines made from grapes that nobody knew could make wines like that. They had no history. It was one person's devotion.'

...a 1982 malvasia with flavors of apples, minerals and pears; a 1980 sémillon that tasted of hazelnuts and wax and seemed impossibly young. As the wines aged, the youthful acidity seemed to give way to mineral, earthy flavors. Yet unaccountably, in contrast to most white wines, which get darker with age, the golden colors of the young wines turned pale as they got older."

Wow. I want one of those for Christmas.

Read the entire article at The New York Times. Note: Their site requires (free) registration.

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