SPECIAL REPORT by DR: MICHAEL LIM THE TRAVELLING in sunny Italy….
21 Sep 2008, Sunday.
1808: I observed the hectic preparations for the Charme Sommelier National Competition in Rolle at Bisol’s fabulous agriturismo aptly named the Relais Duca di Dolle.
A 0.75m wide precarious glass catwalk had been placed over the elegant swimming pool for the 20 finalists for this National competition, in association with the Association of Italian Sommeliers. I walked over it to feel what it was like…very carefully so I did not fall in to the 1.35m deep pool, with icy water at 10.5 degrees Celsius. I know the exact temperature because I swim in it every day when I am here!
I met my good friend, Chef Luca Basilico and also the Maestra delle Cucina, pretty Chef Paula and her other half, also a Chef. They were frantically running around getting everythig ready for 150 VIP guests, including the Minister of Agriculture. I was one of the Judges to pick the 3 winners, namely, the best gentleman Sommelier, the best Lady Sommelier and the best Sommelier picked by the Press Corp of international and Italian Press. The Press and Media included Italy’s famous ‘Sky TV Rete 7’, who later interviewed me about Bisol Prosecco and the Charme Sommelier event.
The night was a little chilly but the VIP guests enjoyed the Bisol Prosecco with antipasti around the exquisite beautiful gardens with a stunning view of the medieval town of Rolle, population 70.
Dinner was wonderful, course after course, while the Sommeliers explained the wines from the Grandi Vini group which repersents some of Italy’s finest and most renowned wines. In my role as Judge, I asked simple yet sometimes complicated questions of the sommeliers in order to see if they knew their stuff, all the time pretending to be a wine idiota. One dish impressed me, and that was the tasty Canneloni which was piping hot a table. No mean feat, as there were so many guests, and the Chefs had to work in a small kitchen plus also utilise improvised mobile kitchens. As an added challenge, the water was cut off for some reason all over Rolle from 3pm, and only came back on at about 11.30pm.
The Show must go on!
It was glamour and glitter all the way as beautiful ladies mingled with elegantly dressed gentlemen, including of course, visionary Gianluca Bisol, Antonio Bisol and the President of Grandi Vini himself. I was so happy to see my old amico, Michele Chiarlo, whose fabulous dessert wine I featured and selected, when I was the first gourmet in the world to match Wines with Mooncakes at the Singapore Marriott in 2003. Michele hugged me and asked, ‘Come va?’
I replied with with a chuckle, ‘Tutto bene, grazie!’ We exchanged pleasantries and fond memories about our last wine tasting high up in the Dolomites near Cortina d’Ampezzo where Sir Roger Moore filmed ‘For Your Eyes Only’.
Dinner and the whole event was really absolutely fabulous and I retired to sleep at 0138 on Monday 22 Sep 2008!!!
I shall tell you more in details about the menu and the wines in my next report from the mountains of La Strada del Prosecco in the pre-Alpi mountains, north of the Queen of the North that is Venezia (Venice). Also, more on Gianluca Bisol’s avant garde project: The Treasures of Venice. Only an individual of genius who can think out of the box can visualise such innovative and unique projects on Mazzorbo Island and on Isola della Certosa (Certosa island). Worthy of the motto of the SAS: Who Dares Wines!
Ciao, Ciao ! [:-)