I know it seems crazy, but I’m writing about a wine you will never be able to buy or taste. It’s not for sale, but priceless in many ways. Nevertheless, the story behind this wine might give you a warm feeling better than any warm feeling you could possibly get from drinking a glass of wine.
Francesco Izzo is my friend. My husband, Paul and I have been friends with Francesco and his wife, Alba for nearly 40 years. Francesco is from Uruguay and Alba is from Italy. They have lived in the United States as naturalized citizens since as long as we have known them. They have two children, Natalia and Michael who to this day are still very close. Growing up in an international household, these kids learned three languages early on and were often our “translators” at multi-generational and multi-lingual family gatherings.
When Alba was pregnant with Natalia, Paul and I were asked by the Izzos to be her godparents. It was quite an honor, considering that we’re not blood relatives, or even Italian! I remember Francesco saying that by becoming Natalia’s godparents, a bond would be created between the four of us that could never be broken.
Early on in their marriage, Francesco started making wine under the tutelage of Alba’s father, Mr. Iadeluca. Francesco learned everything about making homemade Italian wine, from sourcing the grapes to bottling. Each time we visited the Izzos, Francesco would bring out a bottle of his wine to share with us. When Mr. Iadeluca passed away, Francesco continued to make wine, perfecting the process a little at a time, every year. Natalia and Michael were often recruited to help until it became an annual family tradition and the basement of the Izzo home became the wine making headquarters with new equipment added as the process became more sophisticated.
Fast-forward to the present and the occasion of Natalia’s wedding in the beautiful seaside resort town of Newport, Rhode Island. The wedding of Natalia and her husband Brian was simply elegant! With the backdrop of the majestic Newport Bridge in the background, the reception at the oceanfront Belle Mer provided a romantic ambience in which to celebrate this special time with family and friends. As Natalia’s godparents, we felt honored to be a part of this happy occasion.
In the midst of all the dancing, cake cutting, conversations and excellent music, Paul and I observed Francesco taking a moment alone, walking out to the edge of the lawn, smoking a cigar and looking out toward the ocean and the Newport Bridge. Perhaps he was contemplating the many proud moments he has had with his children, the fun of being together, making wine in the basement and now seeing his little girl, now a beautiful woman, married. Time does get ahead of you quickly. Children grow up, and life continues to move us forward.
As the wedding celebration was winding down, Paul and I decided to say goodnight. Alba came over to us, and brought us to a table where there were bottles of the same wine on display. She gave us one to take with us and said that this was a special wine made by Francesco in honor of their daughter’s wedding.
The wine is called “ZO” which represents the last two letters in the family name. The label was designed by their son, Michael. It depicts a colorful sunset with the Newport Bridge in the background. The date of Natalia and Brian’s wedding are on the label. This is an elegant special reserve wine made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. The color is a beautiful red. It is a fruit-forward wine, semi-dry with a satisfying finish. Out of all the homemade wines that Francesco has served to us over the years, this one is exceptional. The back of the wine label says that it is best enjoyed in good company and when celebrating. Francesco told us that he set aside a few bottles to keep for future happy family celebrations.
A gift from a loving father to his daughter, this wine is truly priceless.
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