One of our Italian importer reps has been in town for the week. In the last 24 hours it has rained 8-10 inches. The Trinity River is reaching record highs. The Calatrava Bridge construction has stopped until the storms end. Last night, as we were assembling in the back room of Jimmy’s, the air raid sirens blaring, and the tornadoes threatening, 35 of us huddled together over plates of antipasti and wines from Piedmont.
It was eerie, but the crowd seemed to be into it. I imagined us all as if we were marooned on an island and had to get along for more than a few hours. There were six tables of folks. There were six wines. We had Gavi, Barbera, Dolcetto,Barbaresco, Barolo and Moscato. For a brief twilight zone moment, I imagined each table representing one of the wines. The wind was beating down on the old building, the roof was leaking. But we weren’t going anywhere. I couldn’t imagine anywhere else being any safer. We had food, water, wine. Worse case, we could all head into the freezer room and wait out the worst. We had fig cookies. We had dark chocolate, we had espresso. We had Moscato.
As we were watching the TV, it looked as if tornadoes were touching down everywhere in town, like a tornadic recreation of the War of the Worlds. I went outside to look at the skies. Blue, green, gray, dense with clouds and rain and wind. And then I went back to check the TV. When I noticed. Fox. Just like last week when I was in Ft. Wayne and the TV was blaring another apocalyptic end of the world scenario, with the Hurricane on the east coast and the new oil spill in the gulf. Again, Fox. I called a friend in the media and asked them to give me their take on it. “You should worry more about me than you; it’s heading up a corridor towards me.” I suppose that was intended to make me feel better.
All day, I had been sluggish from a “procedure” and this weather and the stress started up the pains in the side, like last month when I had my “heart attack”. After meeting a friend for lunch at a tony spot, the situation improved, slightly. The 1976 Clos du Val Zinfandel sure helped, it was as perfect of a wine as one could wish for. 1976, drought year, the year we drove through the Napa Valley in the Falcon station wagon, slept in the car in a Calistoga trailer park, the year my son was born.
Earlier, perusing the wine list, I noticed the account hadn’t the same degree of passion for my Italian wines as I did, although the Italian wine section was more than well represented. Points for the other side(s). Small wine companies with the time to pay attention in ways we cannot or will not. Passion know no scale.
Same as the night before, another spot, this time all Italian. The wine buyer, really the wine gatekeeper, would never realize the great wines we have in our galleys. If for no reason than they come from a large behemoth company, and that alone gives people like him reason to hate those of us who work in that milieu. I noticed a red wine from Etna that was interesting, but at $90, hardly a value. Youth, they have to make their own mistakes, even at the cost of the diner who is parceling out their spending more carefully. Misconnection there. What to do? Maybe the tornado will someday cross the path of the buyer.
After a week in a hard hit area, the real Midwest, back in Texas, back to the daily storms of wine and ego and youth and vs. the established and experienced and the so very dug in. The voice of experience vs. the new voices of truth. Or so they think. Even under a wall of water, there really is nothing new under the sun. Just a new crop of humans who have to learn the hard way.
On with the show - it’s flooding down in Texas, hope the levees don’t break.