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An Italian Festa - Gallinaro's annual wine festa

Wine Interests

I make it a rule to be in my little Italian village of Gallinaro every year for the second week of August. There are two reasons for this: first there's the festa of San Gerardo our patron saint on the 11th and then two days later on the 13th there's the annual wine festa.

I make it a rule to be in my little Italian village of Gallinaro every year for the second week of August. There are two reasons for this: first there's the festa of San Gerardo our patron saint on the 11th and then two days later on the 13th there's the annual wine festa. Of the two festival days I'm perhaps drawn a little more towards that of the 13th and since the inception of the festa I've been a part of the organising committee and every year the cantina of my house has been a focal point for the festa evening.

The full title of the wine festa this summer was 'The 10th Annual Festa of Cabernet and Local Wines of Gallinaro' and I really do have the green T shirt to prove it. It has grown year after year and now has become the largest wine festa in the Lazio region, no small achievement for a town of 1,000 inhabitants. Our place in the regional papers and on regional television is now secured. It works like this; at the entrances to the town you can buy a wine-glass in a carrying pouch for €5, and this entitles you to a glass of wine in 35 different cantinas all around the town centre. As you can imagine, it's not unknown for people to get drunk.

All around the town there are stalls set up for food - simple things like a plate of pasta or a sausage in a panino - which help soak up the alcohol. Some of these are provided by the town hall and are free, others are commercial enterprises and you pay for their offerings. There is music, too, at every small piazza, dancers in traditional costumes and even pipers from the Abruzzi playing pipes not very dissimilar from Irish pipes. What the festa has achieved is an awareness, even as far away as Rome, of the local wines from our valley.

Since the festa began there has been a major change, which has been much to our town's benefit and that was the creation three years ago of a new DOC called 'Atina' DOC, which takes in five towns in our valley, including Gallinaro. We like to think that the festa played a major part in making the new DOC a reality. When my cousin Cesidio Tullio starts his commercial bottling next year, I'll bring you more news of 'Atina' DOC.

Recommended wine

Cistus Reserva, Douro 2000

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