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Ia€™m nursing three glasses of Marsala in La Sirena Ubriaca, a€?The Drunken Siren,a€? a wine bar in the port town of Marsala on Sicilya€™s western tip. My hata€™s off to wine-shop owner Salvatore Ruccione, whose enthusiasm for Marsala compelled him to create this chart (which really is quite helpful). Woodhouse suspected this complex wine would fit like a fine leather glove in the cultivated parlors of England where Port, Madeira, and Sherry were all the rage. Other Englishmen followed: Corlett, Wood, Payne, Hoppes, and most importantly, Benjamin Ingham and his nephew Joseph Whitaker, who began exporting Marsala beyond Europe. It was during this period that Marco De Bartoli entered the fray, an artisan David among industrial Goliaths determined to resurrect Marsalaa€™s tarnished reputation. Another claim to fame: Ita€™s believed Philipa€™s words inspired Jeffersona€™s indelible phrase a€?all men are created equala€? in the Declaration of Independence. When Francesco Mazzei was growing up, Philip was not just some dusty portrait in the stairwell of Castello di Fonteruoli, a medieval property that the Mazzei family inherited in 1435 a€” 57 years before Christopher Columbus discovered America. The American chapter of Philipa€™s life began when he was running a trading company in London that imported agricultural products from Tuscany. Philip quickly entered political circles in Virginia, where he was welcomed for his liberal ideas and his wit and energy. In the library of Castello di Fonterutoli, giant tomes line the walls, each with refined, spidery handwriting crawling down the leather spine.
Made with natural yeast and minimal interference, Philip is matured for 24 months in barrique, primarily American oak thata€™s about 40 percent new. For a profile of Francesco Mazzei and the winery, see a€?Keeping up with the Mazzeia€™s,a€? in the blog Living La Dolce Vita. John Woodhouse, a merchant from Liverpool, was sailing to Mazara del Vallo on Sicilya€™s southern shore when a sudden scirocco storm forced him to seek refuge in the port of Marsala.
These fortified wines came from what the British called a€?the sun belta€?a€” the Mediterranean region extending from Portugal to Turkeya€”and Sicily was smack in the middle.
Vicenzo Florio outgrew them all, with a fleet of 99 ships exporting Marsala to points around the globe. Old dusty bottles were occasionally brought out of kitchen cupboards to make chicken marsala or zabaglione, but Marsalaa€™s illustrious status as a meditation wine was gone with the wind.
Hea€™d spent the previous decade in the family business, growing grapes to sell to Marsala firms Pellegrino and Mirabella. Concentrated but dry, blended in soleras, and aged an average of 20 years, Vecchio Samperi is truly a meditation wine, a siren song that pulls you in deep through waves of nut, caramel, dried fruit, and sherry-like oxidative notes. Like its name implies, ita€™s virgin wine, with nothing added but neutral grape spirit, whose magic comes from long aging in wood. De Bartoli has taken the lead in privileging grillo, grown in Sicily since Phoenician times.
Sweeter than a Vergine, with a luscious caramel, dried apricot, marmalade, and nut character, this wine has been fortified with mistella from insolia must and acquavite, then aged 10 years, versus the required 4. While Fine is fine for cooking, it takes years, even decades, to achieve a truly elegant meditation wine, one whose concentrated flavors come from slow evaporation and oxidation in casks, followed by further mellowing in barrique. If you havena€™t a clue, let me suggest a wine thata€™s fit for the occasion: Philip, named after Philip Mazzei, an intriguing, if minor, player in the formative years of the United States of America.
For starters, hea€™s the one who brought the first vitus vinifera to the Colonies and planted the first commercial vineyards in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Mazzei, who wrote under the pseudonym Furioso, penned these words: a€?All men are by nature equally free and independent. His older brother Filippo (and fellow CEO) took Philipa€™s name, and the household was generally aware of their 18th century ancestora€™s exploits. His professions included medicine, trade, horticulture, viticulture, politics, and pamphleteeringa€”vocations that took him around the globe. A friend from home, the powerful Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany, asked him to acquire one of the latest modern conveniences: a metal-lined fireplace, named the Franklin Stove.


Jefferson provided the initial land for Philipa€™s venture: 193 acres on the south side of Monticello (above).
Philip the Restless became increasingly disengaged as he became more involved in the birth of the nation. He hired one of Philipa€™s vignerons to take charge of Monticelloa€™s vineyards, and thus Philipa€™s legacy lived on. Wine was always part of the equation; records show the Mazzeis made wine as far back as the 1300s.
Ita€™s a delicious winea€”bursting with dark fruit, with a background of spice and cedar, offering plush tannins that give structure without being overbearing. The Mazzei winery has partnered with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation to bring Tuscan vines to Virginia, fulfilling Philipa€™s promise (right).
Youa€™ll find him very pleasant company indeeda€”whether on Presidenta€™s Day or any day of the year.
Ita€™s reacting to a chart titled a€?29 Expressions of a Unique Wine,a€? which parses Marsala into its various categories. Look for De Bartolia€™s Vecchio Samperi, Pellegrinoa€™s Marsala Vergine Soleras Secco, or Florioa€™s Marsala Superiore VecchioFlorio Secco.
While there, he and his men dined at an osteria that served up its best special-occasion wine. Like Vecchio Samperi, it uses the soleras system, as does another favorite of mine, Pellegrinoa€™s Marsala Vergine Soleras Secco.
This was in 1774 on land obtained through his neighbor, Thomas Jefferson, as well as on Jeffersona€™s own Monticello plantation.
Such equality is necessary in order to create a free government.a€? Without question, the mena€™s thinking was in sync, and the two politicos were tight friends who shared progressive libertarian ideals, traded volumes of private letters, and even published writings together.
He was pushy, always asking a€?I want to do this, I want to do that.a€™ So he was a bit of a pain.
Philip got in touch with its inventor, Benjamin Franklin, who was then working in London as an agent for Pennsylvania and other American colonies.
Philip purchased another 700 next door, named his farm Colle, and started planting on both farms. He went back to Tuscany at Jeffersona€™s request to solicit funds for the State of Virginia from his old friend the Grand Duke and to promote the Coloniesa€™ perspective. Whata€™s remarkable is how many oft-told tales of Chianti intersect with the Mazzei family history.
This wine could dress up for an elegant prime-rib dinner or go casual for a picnic of sloppy joes and BBQ. Not surprisingly, ita€™s quite popular in the Washington DC and Virginia markets and sells like gangbusters at the gift shop in Monticello.
The idea is to add a special plot to the vineyards now on the presidential property adjoining Monticello, named Montalto.
Thata€™s right; 29 permutations, stacked in a multicolored pyramid, with age on the ascending side, color on the base, and sweetness levels wedged in between. Called il perpetuum, it was named after an aging process that involve a perpetual replenishing of wine in large wooden casks. When his father sent word that this Marsala was a smashing success, Woodhouse created a commercial operation, buying vineyards and farms in the countryside, anda€”like the British shippers of Port in Oportoa€”building an aging lodge near the Marsala port for easy shipping to England. Although boiled must was banished from most Marsalas, at least 1 percent is still required in the amber versions of Fine, Superiore, and Superiore Reservaa€”an industry shortcut to the rich hue and caramelized flavors that come with long cask aging.
His first wine, called Vecchio Samperi, had more in common with the original perpetuum wine than Woodhousea€™s fortified Marsala, let alone the mass-produced Marsalas of the 1970s. Add the words a€?Reservaa€? and a€?Stravecchio,a€? and that doubles the aging minimum, from 5 years to 10.
Unlike Vergine, which is always dry, Marsala Superiore can range in sweetness, so check the label for secco (dry), semisecco (off-dry), or dolce (sweet).
There are notes of Jefferson that say, a€?This guy isa€¦a€™ a€? Francesco shakes his head with a grimace, then breaks out in a laugh.


They struck up a friendship, and through Franklin, Philip met Virginia businessman and politician Thomas Adams. To finance the operation, he created a wine companya€”Americana€™s firsta€”called the Wine Society, which was meant to produce and sell wine. The first written mention of Chianti wine, in 1398, was penned by a Mazzei: the notary Ser Lapo. Leta€™s repeat: Age (Fine = 1 year, Superiore = 2 years, Superiore Reserve = 4 years, Vergine = 5 years, Vergine Reserve = 10 years).
That barrel is replenished with younger wine from the barrel above, and so on, with the brand-new vintage added to the top row. By 1900, 40 firms were supplying the world with what was then the most famous of all Italian wines.
He lived in, not just went to, Tuscany, Turkey, England, Virginia, France, Poland, Russia, and back in Tuscany,a€? he says, tapping the table for emphasis. Both Americans encouraged Philip to come up with a plan to cultivate Mediterranean vines, olive trees, citrus, and silk in the Colonies.
Thirty-one investors shelled out 50 pounds sterling per share; many prominent colonial leaders were among them, first and foremost Washington and Jefferson. Then therea€™s the legend of the Black Rooster, which recounts how Florence and Siena settled a longstanding territorial dispute through a horse race; the resulting border falls precisely at the hamlet of Fonterutoli.
The cask is then topped off with new wine, and so it continues over the years, creating a blend of multiple vintages within one cask. But it also had no added alcohol, achieving 18% just through a combination of well-ripened grapes and evaporation in the soleras circle.
De Bartoli also pioneered grillo as a dry white table wine, kicking off a trend in Sicily with his crisp and lovely Grappoli del Grilloa€”a welcome trend, given the islanda€™s abundance of seafood. As a result, Vecchio Samperi falls outside the DOC rules, which require fortification, even for Vergine; thata€™s why you dona€™t see the word a€?Marsalaa€? on the Vecchio Samperi label. But as codified in the 1969 regulations, Marsala producers could also use mosto cotto, or unfermented grape must boiled down to a concentrate to increase potential alcohol, as well as sifone, or must from late-harvest grapes whose sweetness was fixed by the addition of alcohol. Both bolstered sweetness and color, but could also dilute the essential character of the wine. A  A And why do so many folks find the color Black which is prominent in my wardrobe to be such an issue, or unusual?A  It's very flattering on me, and I have worn something black or have used black accessories for as long as I can recall, teen years forward. Grant has claimed in his Motion of October 22, 2008 that Christmas 2007 was my turn with Claire and that Christmas 2008 is now Eric's.A  Mr. A  A Perhaps now they can all stick to the facts, and answer all those unanswered questions. A A  That's his opinion, and others have thought this website is "brilliant", "comprehensive", "amazingly accurate and detailed."A  As with much in life, most people see things very differently.
A A If Claire reads this website, she might not fully understand why people said such things; especially about her Mom. A Item 14.A  I am a loving Mother, and my parental rights have been violated by the unjustified actions of Eric William Swanson.
His actions, and those of some others, have kept me from being with our daughter Claire.A  He shall have his opportunity to explain himself to the Court, as shall I. Grant, Attorney at Law, Juneau, AK From Wedding Bells to Tales to Tell: The Affidavit of Eric William Swanson, my former spouse AFFIDAVIT OF SHANNON MARIE MCCORMICK, My Former Best Friend THE AFFIDAVIT OF VALERIE BRITTINA ROSE, My daughter, aged 21 THE BEAGLE BRAYS! HELL'S BELLS: THE TELLS OF THE ELVES RING LOUD AND CLEAR IDENTITY THEFT, MISINFORMATION, AND THE GETTING THE INFAMOUS RUNAROUND Double Entendre and DoubleSpeak, Innuendos and Intimidation, Coercion v Common Sense, Komply (with a K) v Knowledge = DDIICCKK; Who's Gunna Call it a Draw?
A  A And why do so many folks find the color Black which is prominent in my wardrobe to be such an issue, or unusual?A  It's very flattering on me, and I have worn something black or have used black accessories for as long as I can recall, teen years forward.



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