Thursday, August 28, 2014

Postcard from Naples ~ August 21, 1971

Dear Mom and Dad,

Italy, I finally made it to Rome The last week has been warm. Hotter than where I came from. Rome was miserable. And empty, save for a few Americans who actually had lire. Wartime in America. Nixon devalued the dollar the day I arrived in Rome to get more European countries to buy things from us. We need the money to pay for the war in Vietnam. And it looks like we are going into a recession that could last for years.

Naples from Rome on a train. Walking. I have a day before the ferry takes me to Palermo. I have a day to kill. I start walking.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wild Figs and Ancient Chants

From the archives ~ April 8, 2007

Fishermen from Calabria, Italy - Alan Lomax
I turn on the music, and Albanian chants from Calabria flood my jet-lagged skull. “We’re not through with you yet. Take this back with you. Forget about filling up your suitcase with brochures and bottles of wine. Forget about the ties and the shirts and the socks. Do not forget us.”

“We are the ancient, the local, the thread in the core of the soul of this land. Get out of bed. You’re not sleeping anyway. Wake up and hear the clarions calling like so many souls from inside you.”

I was sitting in a palace near Lake Garda talking to a woman and her husband. They had been living in Istanbul for the better part of their adult lives. Her childhood home was just downhill from the villa, but she, like me, had found another way, another place to call home. While we all come back to visit and stay, there are those of us who must return to a place not where we came from.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Vacating Italy ~ Ferragosto 2015

Odd how time reshapes things. In another era, one could not get anyone on the line, start (or finish) any kind of business or move anything in Italy during the month of August. This week I reached out to several folks for info. For the most part, I got a response within an hour. They may be on the boat in Corsica or taking a nap on a warm summer afternoon in Pontignanello, but they are responding better than they ever have.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Franciacorta's "little" problem

“I just don’t get Franciacorta,” the tall lady muttered to her friend at a recent reception. Her friend was pouring all manner of cool wines from Germany, Austria and France. Grower Champagnes chilled in iced trays, alongside Franciacorta. I wondered why she said that, but I was in full-introvert mode, and was in no shape to investigate her motives.

Friday, August 08, 2014

10 Years of Texsom ~ 2005-2014

It was the winter of 2004-5. We were sitting at a table, myself with Guy Stout, Drew Hendricks and James Tidwell. I hadn’t yet started this blog. Guy, Drew and James were months away from becoming master sommeliers. And they were kicking around this idea about starting a conference to encourage wine professionals from around Texas to become more involved in wine, in attaining certifications and in being better at their trade. That’s how I remember it all starting. Ten years later, Texsom is huge. Drew and James are still running the thing, but there has been a quantum leap in the quality, the engagement and the momentum of Texas wine professionalism and, indeed, wine professionalism from all over the country. Now there are scores of master sommeliers, masters of wine and other highly engaged folks from the wine trade who invade Texas at the peak of summer, to teach, to learn and to enjoy what it is about wine that attracted us to it in the first place.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Wine Spotting Selfies – Narcissism or Simply Sharing?

On the Social Media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Delectable and so on, I encounter a lot of images of wine bottles. Folks seem to love posting pictures of the wines they are enjoying. I wondered how folks in my world thought about it and posed these questions on Facebook and elsewhere:

What are your thoughts on looking at other people’s photos of the fabulous wines they are enjoying, on blogs, on FB, on Twitter, on Delectable, etc.?

1) Do you enjoy this?
2) Does this annoy you?

The responses were varied:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Problem with Pinot Noir

There’s an unspoken protocol around the water cooler at work. Whenever someone starts extolling the glories of another Pinot Noir, they look around to see if I am near and whisper in hushed tones, “Don’t ever talk to him about Pinot Noir, especially from the Russian River Valley.”

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Oh, The People You’ll Meet! (wanting help with winery visits in Italy)


For the last few months I have gotten a barrage of notes from folks who are heading to Italy for visits. Most of the time they are asking for places to visit. After all these years, I have begun to notice patterns. Without making too much fun of them, I’d like to share some of the distilled versions of these archetypes.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Midsummer Night’s Scream ~ Italy at the Tipping Point

“You’re either going up or you’re going down,” an old political saying goes. And while it was meant for worlds larger than ours, here we are in the middle of summer and where are we going? I don’t really know. Perhaps this is where two weeks on the beach is the best solution.

Friday, July 18, 2014

In pursuit of the (Italian) American dream

..and other tales told while riding inside the sommambulance

I keep having this dream over and over again. I’m in a restaurant. Pretty paintings on the wall, Bocelli crooning though the speakers, the lights are low. The waiter comes to seat me. He puts me in a corner and brings me a menu and a basket of hot steamy bread.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Dear John Letter to Moscato

It was bound to happen sooner or later. This was never meant to be forever. It’s 3AM and I don’t even know where to send this, you’re not at home. You haven’t been home in ages. You’re on the constant prowl, looking for new places, new people, new conquests. You don’t need me anymore. And quite frankly, I have moved beyond you, little Miss Moscato.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bursting the Bubble - The Battle for the Luxury Sparkling Wine Market

July. Slow period. Vacations. Nothing much happening. Right?

If you think this is the case, then go right ahead. But right now major campaigns have been launched to capture a share of the lucrative sparkling wine market. I came across two wineries with similar looks to their rebranding efforts. It got me to thinking, “What is going on here?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

John the Apostle Talks with Jesus: on Water, Natural Winemaking and Large Gatherings

One of the most misunderstood winemakers in all of time is Jesus Christ. After his miracle at the marriage feast of Cana, criticisms of his wine style stirred the temple. Jesus, a man born to love, was reviled. But what about his wine? Was it the ultimate supernatural wine?

Jesus’ mercurial behavior, like the time he went ballistic in the marketplace, have contributed to his reputation as a flesh and blood being, only to be balanced with the events at Cana and subsequent actions with Lazarus.

Criticism of Jesus seems to outpace his actions, many of which have changed history. Denial of his importance in the world of wine and natural winemaking, especially, was common throughout the Roman Empire. After winemaking shifted to Italy, it was as if Jesus the winemaker never existed.

Monday, June 30, 2014

When a DOCG isn't a DOCG - and when that's not enough

Thursday, June 26, 2014

“We have become accustomed to constant change and instant boredom.”

"The business of wine buying is being handed over to a bunch of fireflies and their life span matches their attention span. It’s no longer about good or even great wines. It’s all about the next wine. Forget about the last wine, even if it was a quixotically unpronounceable and profoundly delicious wine like Txakoli."

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