09 April 2011

Vivi Tipici

First off, it's not "vivi tipici," it's "vini tipici." We have been calling it "vivi" because of a typo on a road sign. At least, we think it was a typo.
San Marino has a small wine consortium that produces almost all of the alcohol in the country. There are a few older vintages left over from more fragmented times, but today it is mostly about cheaper whites and reds that are sold in bulk to bars and (sometimes) in bottles to tourists. It's not bad, but it's best drunk without thinking about it. The bottles above, which are two of the better products, cost €4.50 and €2.00 (left and right), and are definitely palatable.
At the wine consortium in Borgo Maggiore - which is the town at the ocean-side foot of Monte Titano - the fermentation tanks dominate the parking lot. It's quite the sight, but it's also a pretty small scale operation when you consider that it's the entire county's output.
This Saturday, a surprising number of people were driving in, parking and unloading empty bottles from their trunks. The bottles ranged in size from one liter plastic things, to larger glass jugs to these enormous vessels. There are four gas-pump type filling stations in the shop - two for white, two for red - and a bleary eyed man running the nozzles.
The price per liter was €1.65 at three of the pumps, and €1.25 (marked as a sale!) on the fourth. Most people seemed to want this red, but we opted instead for two others: the Riserva Titano Brut Frizzante and the Castelli Sammarinesi Vino Bianco. Both were in bottles. We might have filled up our own containers, but didn't have anything that seemed suitable.
Most of the customers were older and seemed to know the pump attendant. I'm sure some of them were picking up orders for restaurants, but some obviously were just getting their week's supply of table wine. At €8.25 for five liters, i'd say they were getting a deal.
Later, we stopped at a vineyard on the way to Faetano. The leaves are just beginning to unfurl from the vines. They're a magnificent spring-green. In the background, Monte Titano rises up and the edge of Borgo Maggiore can be seen (the cluster of houses at right, under the cliffs). There is quite a bit of land under vine in little San Marino, but it appears to be secondary to olive production.
We drank the frizzante last night with our picnic of tomato, cheese, lambstongue, artichoke and piadina. It wasn't optimally cold or served in the right glasses, but that doesn't really matter. The bottle certainly emptied quickly enough. It is probably our favorite of the San Marino wines, though we are fond of the frizzante served on tap in all the bars.

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