My journey of wine discovery has involved many tastings. From massive producers to boutique variety to wine bars, I have been graced to meet many remarkable and generous people. Sicilian winemaker Ciro Biondi gave us a tour and tasting with a heaping side of Italian history and the struggles between the north and south.
Irene Lesti of Montemercurio fed our love of Tuscan wine with stories of the valley, the people all, of course, over generous pours of their wines. I’ve toured the spectacular Culmina vineyard in Oliver, BC with Don Triggs. Thanks to Canadian wine collector Garrett Herman and crossed schedules with his close friends, we had the good fortune to be stand-ins at a dinner with Marchese Piero Antinori, the head of one of the eldest winemaking families in Italy over a glass of Solaia.
My journey has been a very lucky one. I came to the conclusion that wine people love to share stories, a glass, a meal. They all look at least 10 years younger. They are the kind of people who despite the many challenges of the wine business, they are living their dream.
Cinzia Caporali was one of those people. We met her at E Lucian Le Stelle, my favourite wine bar inside Locanda San Francesco – a stunning B & B in Montepulciano. The first time we shared a joke. The second time, I brought 8 friends and we drank them out of Valdipiatta, her family’s wines.
The third time she invited Steve and I to join a blind tasting of the new release of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with a dozen winemakers. My dream come true. That night I heard one of my favourite lines that I have used many times since. “You don’t make friends drinking milk.”
When friends Matt and Crystal were going on a honeymoon, I contacted Cinzia to ask her to have a bottle of Valdipiatta waiting for them in their room along with a gift and a card. Cinzia made it an extra special vintage to mark their very special day.
And when my husband Steve had a terrible accident, she sent her best wishes. When he had his first glass of wine in 19 months at her wine bar, she said she was honoured and would not let us pay.
Cinzia also organized what was undoubtedly our best wine tasting experience at Tenuta Valdipiatta with Guilio, her father. He talked about his love of opera, his love of wine and how proud he was of his daughters.
Over these visits, I learned Cinzia was a mechanical engineer, she had a great sense of humour and she certainly knew how to bring people together and make them feel welcome.
We talked about getting together in Rome. Steve and I thought how incredible it would be to explore the city with her.
Just two days ago I sent a tweet with a photo of Steve and I sharing our last bottle of Valdipiatta, very excited to see her again in three weeks when we will be in Montepulciano. I received a letter today telling me that Cinzia passed away last month. I have no idea how old she was because wine people always look so much younger. All I know is she was far too young.
E Lucevan le Stelle means the stars are shining brightly, a line from Tosca, one of Puccini’s most famous operas. Indeed, Cinzia made the lives of all she met a little brighter. I count myself so very lucky that she became part of mine,