We need a name for Joe Akers, something that fits his demeanor. Let’s see, he likes wine, women and money. How about Joey the Whack? Anyway it was Sausage Paul and Joey the Whack’s tandem birthday – imagine born on the same day in the same year – separated at birth and joined together by a love for Amarone.
Joey the Weasel (aka Joe Strange Eye) couldn’t make it. He was busy loading up his vehicle to make hot shot deliveries to restaurants that had last minute “needs.” A coupe of days ago we had five minutes of snow and everybody in town panicked, started canceling New Year’s reservations, And then when the snow melted, 10 minutes later, everyone, and then some, called back, panicking that they wouldn’t get a New Years Eve seat in the restaurant of their choice. Anywho, Joe couldn’t make it.
A couple of veterans and a young lion did show up though. Adelmo was in rare form. Everyone brought a bottle of wine from their stash. Jermann’s "Dreams", the ’05 La Louviere, a tanned and sassy ’97 Solaia, a 2000 Ghiaie della Furba from Capezzana, a 93 Brunello and a bubbly from the Texas, Mexico, New Mexico border town of Canutillo, Texas. Huh? I’d never heard of it either, but there it was from the Zin Valle Vineyards, predictably named “Rising Star.” Well, of course.
Adelmo is my neighbor and man, his trash can fills up with a lot of wine bottles during the holidays. Today we had a beautiful lineup for the recycle tub. And we got to try wines from France, Italy and Texas before the year expires.
After the Rose’, Adelmo poured me a glass of deep yellow wine. I didn’t look at the label but when I tasted it I thought I was drinking a passito chardonnay. I didn’t recoil from it, but it caught me off guard. “I love this wine,” Adelmo proclaimed. “I don’t know what it is about it, but everything is in place with this wine for me.” I could see that. It was spoofulated and statuesque, but not grotesque. It went well with the ceviche. Ok, I’d go along for the ride.
A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams."
The last time I had the 2005 La Louviere was in Bordeaux out of the barrel. This time it was showing “advanced tendencies”. The wine seemed super-ripe, California-like. Odd. Again, Adelmo’s is a vortex and funny things happen in his place. We were sitting there making fun of each other; he likes to claim that Sicily is the only Arab country that has never invaded Israel. I countered that one cannot really allege to be Tuscan when their claim to fame is as one of the bastards of Napoleon when he was marooned on Elba. A couple in the corner heard our banter and the young lass let out a whoop. I think she wanted to join the drinking party (and she eventually did). But that is the way we rolled that day.
Adelmo’s friend, Danny, who got out of the retail wine and sprits biz (but not out of real estate), brought a bottle of ’97 Solaia. Danny and Joey the Whack and Adelmo are travel buddies who go to Italy from time to time. They leave a trail of broken “Dream” bottles wherever they go.
All of us are tied to one or the other in the wine biz. Beat, "The Swiss Missile" we all have known for so long, is a passionate guy about any kind of wine. And he is fiercely competitive. David is the other “money” guy in the group; he loves to eat and travel and drink wine and make money, so now he’s part of the tribe of characters. The Young Lion, Ben, has these wild looking eyes – if you didn’t know him you might think he’s getting ready to cloud up and rain on you. But he’s good. He loves wine and selling for his small company and he was so proud of loading up his car with the Texas Bubbly and going out with hand invoices to deliver the wine on the spot. I remember doing that a generation ago with an Italian Novello. It’s front line excitement, making things happen, right here, right now. Feels good.
A pasta dish with clams (why do those waiters bring the cheese around to ask us if we want any?) followed by a lamb chop (with more pasta, this time gnocchi) and then a small plate of veal. My regimen is getting close to being shot this day. We open the Super (reductive) Tuscan from Capezzana. These guys loved it – but they also love big red wine from the Veneto and Napa. I get it; I was on that bus once upon a time.
A mystery carafe appears – a 93 Brunello – from Banfi – maybe the Poggio all’Oro? It was pretty calm compared to the previous wines (that’s right) and it was almost in a hibernative-stage. We were moving through wine pretty fast now.
Slabs of bread pudding appeared on a small plate along with another wine, Feudi di San Gregorio "Privilegio", a botrytis passito of Fiano from Cotarella. I had a slight epiphany here. Cotarella knows how to do ripe, fruity, rich. I wonder what he could do with a Sagrantino in the “old style”. He does an Aleatico that’s a jam-fest. The Privilegio was a little over the top, but it was in keeping with the general theme of the day.
To come (full?) circle, we ended with the Texas Brut, which was fruity. “Rising Star” from Canutillo, Texas. A stone’s throw from Juarez.
The young lass who was admiring our tall tales and all the wine finally came over to see what the stir was all about. Her lunch companion had to get back to work. Some people do have to stoke the fires of the American economy, after all. So we toasted him and he set sail, while she looked at the lineup in amazement. For all I know, they might all still be there drinking in the New Years. As for me and Adelmo, she shot us in our Spy vs. Spy coats. Mine was a gift from a friend whose husband (who was a real Mad Man on NY in the 1950’s and ‘60’s) had passed away. It was a great gift to go into the next year, with a vintage Burberry Spy coat, with hidden pockets. Big enough to hide a bottle of Cristal. Or Jacques Selosse? Like I said, we like to mix it up in flyover country.
See you in 2010!