“Suzy, please don’t say thank you”. Not words I am used to hearing. When Giampaolo Tabarrini first says this to me, I am a bit startled. And then I think for a minute – thank you is an easy expression – I use it a dozen times a day. Giampaolo doesn’t want to be thanked – he is simply enjoying spending time together – to him this is nothing extraordinary and no reason to be thanked. “Don’t mention it – this is what we do.”
And what they do is spectacular. Over the last couple of years Giampaolo has expanded his cantina into a show stopping beauty. With high ceilings and miles of space to store his wine, a tour of the cantina is endless. And his wines are fantastic.
We arrive for lunch on a beautiful spring day straight out of central casting. The sun is shining high in the sky, a gentle breeze is blowing across the terrace and there is a beautiful, clear view. I arrive a few minutes behind the group and everyone is animatedly talking on the terrace – drinking one of Giampaolo’s collection of sparkling wines.
Today’s lunch is not about showcasing Tabarrini wines – he knows we are all big fans already. Today we are dipping into Giampaolo’s private cellar and drinking wines that he has been given or collected over the years. We start with a beautiful Sicilian wine – only 10,000 bottles are produced each year. This one has been aging in the cellar and is extraordinary… Daniele and Teddy pop into the cellar and return with a big Primitivo from Puglia. A friend of Giampaolo’s makes this wine and it holds up perfectly with the beautiful guinea fowl we are eating.
Our visit to the winery today is also a reunion. Giampaolo’s mother Franca had made her first trip to the US in December and spent two days with us at Via Umbria cooking amazing dinners to serve with the Tabarrini wine. Franca comes out of the kitchen to say hello and to kindly let us know that whenever we are ready – her bags are packed.
So we enjoy a beautiful lunch and as we are leaving we pause on the steps to sit for just a minute to enjoy the day and of course more wine is poured and Giampaolo decides that his work in the field is done for the day. We don’t need a facebook memory for this day – the fresh air, the laughter and wine all bring back memories of people and place – of a day enjoyed two years ago that perfectly mirrors today. Two hours later we say our good byes and leave.
But it’s not really good-bye because we are meeting up on Saturday in Verona to taste wine and enjoy another meal together. Don’t mention it – this is what we do.