The Monaco Grand Prix is magical. Two dozen Formula 1 cars dancing around the streets of Monte Carlo, millimetres away from metal guardrails that are just waiting to take off your wheel if you hit them. It takes a special skill to win at Monaco, a 110% effort for the entire race, never making a mistake. Senna won there, as has Schumacher, Fangio and Stewart, and in 2004, Jarno Trulli joined the list of those famous names that conquered the principality’s race, by dominating the Grand Prix and cementing his name in the history of the sport.
The biography on Jarno Trulli’s webite states the he “admits he is not a 'typical Italian'. He arrives early for appointments, does not care for football… and even has a Finnish name”. But this Formula One driver, driving for the revived Lotus team in 2010, has one passion that makes him a true Italian. He loves wine!
Jarno Trulli is one of five partners in Podere Castorani, a winery in his native Abruzzo. Resisting all urges to ask him about motor racing, I asked him six questions…
Who or what got you interested in wine?
Wine has always been a passion of mine and has been in my family for generations and both my father and grand father made wine. So in 2000 my father, manager and I decided to invest in a winery in my native region of Abruzzo in a place called Alanno, 20 minutes from Pescara where I was born.
Our castle is on top of the propriety and from there we have a beautiful view of the region with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other. When I am home between races I love to ride my bicycle from my house to the winery and back. I spend most of my free time working with Lucio Cavuto my Formula One manager and partner in the winery on the development of new wines and the expansion and promotion of our winery. I am very fortunate to be travelling the world with F1 and use the time in other countries to talk about my wines and have as many people as possible interested in my wines.
Outside of Abruzzo, what are your favourite wine regions?
This is a difficult question because I love wines from Italy and with the winery and my winemaker, we have worked hard to produce wines from other regions outside of Abruzzo. I produce wines from Piemonte, Puglia and Sicily. I like the richness of the different soils and climates and what it brings to wines and I love the stories behind the regions of my country.
What is the best wine you have ever drunk, when and where did you drink it?
My favourite wine is not specifically from one producer. I am an Amarone fan and when I started the winery my winemaker was always making me try different wines and I liked them but nothing resembled Amarone. One day he asked me what I would like and I said I like Amarone and this is when we started producing the wine you now know as Jarno. It is made with 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo but made Amarone style with the drying of the grapes. Being in Formula one I was fortunate to be able to use the School of La Tuscia of Viterbo and engineers from Toyota and we developed a special room to dry the grapes with humidity control and avoid any boytritis. When the first vintage was produced we had no idea how to name the wine. My friends all said we should call it Jarno since it was made to please my taste.
What is next for Podere Castorani?
Podere Castorani is a young winery and we are still everyday trying to make better wines and expand to meet our markets demands. We have yet to finish building the offices and restoring the castle that dates back to 1793. We recently finished building the winery all underground. We have been producing our local wines all certified organic and the winery is also certified organic. We try to improve on every level and with wine it comes over time and patience and respect of the land.
Will you retire to the vineyards after Formula 1?
I have a few more years of Formula 1 in me before I retire but the winery is definitely the place I will continue spending a lot of time devoted to continuing the dream and passion my father, manager and I have worked so hard over the last 10 years.
Name three people, real or fictional, living or dead, that would be guests at your dream dinner party, and what would you be drinking?
They would be my wife Barbara and my two sons Enzo and Marco. The wine is easy Jarno for me and Barbara and mineral water for the boys.
(Originally posted on The Tasting Note, 2010)