"Wine is like the incarnation: it is both divine and human." Paul Tillich
If weather is an omen, then Bacchus was on our side as we began our journey beneath aquamarine skies dotted with hundreds of cotton candy clouds. I sat in the back seat of our Alfa with our dog Luca, just watching the heavens roll by and imagining cherubs floating on those clouds just like in the painting by Michelangelo. This thought triggered my memory of a Mark Twain quote, so apropos on a day like this, "The Creator made Italy from designs by Michelangelo."
The miles passed by as we traversed the A 14 to the A 22 and finally the A4 toward Milan, and everything was going according to plan. But then we encountered the second tunnel on the outskirts of Iseo. That is where we missed our exit and ended up high above the lake in a little village on a narrow, snakelike road with a sheer drop on the right hand side. After five hours of driving, this was not the place Jim wanted to be, but he cautiously navigated the road through several additional villages down toward the lake. And, eventually he found the road to our hotel, I Due Roccoli. The hotel, positioned high up another road characterized by numerous switchbacks, was set in an idyllic spot on nearly 25 acres of land. And after the drive, Jim and I both wanted nothing more than to sit around and enjoy the park like setting.
I had picked the Massussi winery as our first stop not because it is one of the better known wineries in the area, but solely because it was located on the same road as the hotel. At the outset, I knew that Massussi was a very small producer offering only a brut and a saten, but my goal was to seek out a variety of producers not only the most well known and biggest.
We arrived at the winery at 5:00 p.m. just in time for our appointment and were met by Luigi Massussi's mother who informed us that her son was on his way having been detained in the vineyard. While we waited, we took time to admire the panoramic view of Lake Iseo from high up on the hill where the cantina is located.
A few minutes later, we were saying good bye to Luigi. Walking back to our car, I thought back on this tasting experience, and concluded that one day Massussi will be making everyone's list of great wineries in Franciacorta. I turned to Jim and commented that I felt certain this visit would be one of my favorites since it was all about the family, their dedication to a passion, and a dream of making a superior sparkling wine. And you can't beat a visit with an enthusiastic Italian Mama. You can learn more about the Massussi winery on line at massussifranciacorta.it.
Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a brief respite prior to dinner. The food at I Due Rocolli was so exquisitely presented that I just had to include a few photos below. The only drawback to a beautiful meal was my poor choice of wine. I selected a Cavalleri Blanc di Blanc. Unfortunately, for my taste, it had too much barrique, and it tasted like a headache in a glass. So, I requested a second glass of the house Franciacorta from Conti Ducco. It was a beautiful wine with a good balance of acidity and it paired well with both the risotto and the Faraona.