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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Brooms that will bring tears to your eyes

Yesterday we traveled south of Dallas to Elm Mott, Texas (somewhere in between Italy and Austin, Texas), for the Annual Thanksgiving Homestead Craft Fair, held at the Brazos de Dios, a 510-acre homesteading community. There are many articles about this place and if you ever travel from Dallas to Austin or San Antonio or Ft. Worth on Hwy 35, you should stop and pay these wonderful folks a visit. It is a religious community, but these folks aren’t there to lay any trip on you. They settled from the east coast some time ago to live a life closer to the earth and to worship in a way they so desired.

Alison Miller recently wrote a piece in the Dallas News, Rediscover lost arts at Homestead Heritage's Brazos de Dios, the reason we day-tripped down to Elm Mott. It’s a great read.

Just a few shots after the break. The brooms were amazing. Their almost mystical connection to something that was once a living, flowering plant, that now has a new life. They mesmerized me and got me to thinking about the way we use products in our daily life. When was the last time you shopped, after Thanksgiving, and really found something made with love to give to your loved ones? Enough of this though, the pictures. Happy Sunday!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ya feel me DOGG?

from the "I tell the truth and I know what I’m talking about" department

In an amazing turnabout, the European Community has decided to immediately suspend the integration of Italian wine appellations into the PDO (Protected Designations of Origin) system. Last minute negotiations between the EU and Veneto President Luca Zaia have been reported and there appears to have been an 11th hour change. Reports have it that actor and record producer Cordozar Calvin Broadus, a.k.a. Snoop Dogg and President Zaia have formed a promotion company in the Veneto to realign Italian wines to fit a "more youthful and energetic" profile. The designation will immediately known as D.O.G.G. and the first designees, 13 of them, will receive the highly coveted denominations at a ceremony on Asolo on November 31, 2010.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beyond the Aurelian Walls

So you’ve had your Roman holiday. Seen the sights. Taken in the Vatican Museum, the Baths of Caracalla, the Borghese Gardens. Touched the Pietà. You’ve driven on the deserted streets of Rome before the sunrise, past the empty and brooding Colosseum. You’ve had her, Rome. Now what?

As all roads lead to Rome, all roads lead out of Rome as well. Spin the dial, any direction will do.

East? Marche, Abruzzo.

South? Campania, Basilicata, Calabria.

North? Umbria, Romagna.

West? Sardegna, Maremma.

Does it really matter? If you are a trophy hunter, it does. You’d have to go to Tuscany or Piedmont. Maybe the Veneto. Find a stash of Barolo or Brunello, dig in the cellars, among so many Bentleys, parked, waiting to be driven around the table.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Funny Roman Valentine

Rome, ah, Roma. Three times this year I have slept in your arms. Three times we’ve met, if only for a moment. Still, you remain eternally young and ancient at the same time.

Rome is a childhood sweetheart of mine, whom I stay in touch with, if only from a distance. When I was younger, Rome was like a grandmother to me; large, imposing, wise, ancient. As I spent more time in Rome, she became a mother, a lover, a friend, a muse. Rome, all these emotions over a city that will never know I ever stepped in her shadows.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today's Forecast: Cloudy with a 50% chance of scattered words

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

This, time, I didn’t fall off the wine trail, I was thrown off. Sensing the pain of the customers and the salespeople just isn’t a popular commercial philosophy. After all, why let something emotional like a relationship with our clients get in the way of business?

Those who observe say this has been a challenging O-N-D. October was lackluster. After the November elations there has been a little uptick in the restaurants. Steak houses mainly, expense account meals for large roving bands of white middle aged males who are tired from their day in the rough fairways of commerce. Hey, they eat steak and drink red wine. We’ll take it. Maybe slip an Aglianico in there without them knowing it, eh?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Italian DOCG List Update - 7 New Aspirants (58)

From the "wink and a nod" department


"Ain't nothing but a 'G' thang baby"

Runaway enthusiasm reigns in the Italian countryside, chasing the dream of the DOCG, even though it is pretty much irrelevant due to European Community changes, and the mandate to standardize the wine laws across the United States of Europe.

So here is the Quick and Dirty Update. SEVEN wines have either been given the green light for DOCG or they are on the fast track to DOCG status. As far as I know. And finding out can be anyone’s guess.

The SEVEN wines that I have found out, with a little help from Franco Ziliani, Tom Hyland, Luciano Pignataro, Strappo , DoBianchi and a few other secret sources are:

  • Aglianico del Taburno
  • Erbaluce di Caluso
  • Fior d’Arancio (Colli Euganei Moscato)
  • Montepulciano d' Abruzzo Casauria (or “Terre di Casauria”)
  • Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale
  • Prosecco di Prosecco (political appointment for the town of Prosecco in Friuli)
  • Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato

One controversial appointment is the Prosecco di Prosecco, which has been proposed ( and is on the fast track to becoming DOCG). A couple of problems: the town of Prosecco is in Friuli. And the name Prosecco di Prosecco has been trademarked by a Conti Neri firm in the Veneto. This should be fun.

I’ll have a post down the road to elaborate, but for now read ‘em and weep. And for goodness sake if anyone has any other DOCG’s in waiting please don’t hesitate to chime in. NOT DOC’s though, just DOCG’s Read the post. D.O.C.G. , now @ 57 varieties, potentially.

Presenting the updated list, after the break.

Have a foggy day!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

There is No Truth ~ There are Only Stories

Non essiri duci sinno tu mancianu, non essiri amaru sinno ti futanu*

Those who know me know this has been a heck of a week. Those who read between the lines might have an idea, but don’t worry if it slipped past you. There is too much information in a world that is throwing things at us from every corner. I feel like I have been in a ring with Manny Pacquiao. My head hurts.

So where are we? We are half way in the notorious O-N-D selling season. Lackluster would be high praise. Business is good for the top 1% of the population. My son still doesn’t have health insurance. But I’m not boiling like a teakettle. I’m cool. Really.

I’m cool because I run across signs, all the time, that tell me we are making progress. Like yesterday, walking through the wine department of Whole Foods and seeing a white wine from Sicily for $6. No idea what the grapes are (Catarratto, Grillo or Inzolia would be my guess) but worth a chance. Progress, because we are going beyond a sweet Chardonnay/Semillon Aussie blend, or a German Riesling dumbed down for White Zinfandel tastes. Making progress, one day at a time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Long Life, As Expected?

I was passed a message. “He’s gone.” Just like that. Too young. Too much life left in him. But that was it. The End. Life over for Morro.

Another note, in a text. “She’s here!” Brand new. Just born. Ready for the world. Novella. A fresh beginning.

Non c'è due senza tre. A letter arrives. Old school. “ One year before she turns 100, if she’d only made it a little longer.” And a long life, as expected, still missed, because she was so loved. My Gaglioppa.

You really never know. It could be one long life for a wine, it could be the beginning of a life not yet unfolding, or it could be an abrupt end to a life lost too soon. How many times has it happened, corkscrew at hand, early evening, anticipation, but never really knowing until the moment of truth?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Baby Please Don't Go

Fragments of dreams, thoughts, imaginings….

“What do you expect of me?” Voices were raised. I could hear from behind the closed door, but always it would end the same way. One or the other would walk out and take off. High drama in an Italian family.

A few hours, or days later, there would be a truce. A semi-resolution for the sake of the kids. And life would go back to normal. For a while.

And then there would be the pasta, too long cooked, or the sauce that didn’t have the onions properly strained. Or there would be too much pepper. Or not enough salt. Or the bacon wasn’t crisp. Or the hash browns weren’t brown enough. Or the fish was too limp, the sausage too firm. And on and on it would go like this, all through many Italian-American households, in the days after the war.

It’s amazing how any of us grew up to like food and wine.

Or was it just an isolated experience, imagined, as many things of childhood are?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dream of a Young Italian Winemaker

I’m a young winemaker in Italy. Let’s say the Marche. My grandfather had vineyards. He grew grapes, on 20 acres. Sangiovese and Montepulciano. And some white varieties. Made a little wine for the house and family and sold off the rest to the local Cantine Sociale. Pretty common occurrence all throughout Italy.

As a child we would spend summers there, it was in the hills. It was cooler. the kids could wander. There were birds, warblers, nightingales, mourning doves. The vineyards were filled with song from dawn to sunset. I loved walking in the vineyards with my nonno.

My father wasn’t really interested in the wine business. He got some law or economics degree. Went off to a bigger city for fame and fortune.

Here I am, I’m 28. My grandfather lived his life. My dad lived his. And I am looking at the history and decide to go back to the Marche, make wine as sincerely as possible and see what kind of a life I can make of it. So far, so good?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Blue, Green & Brown

California - there is a good place to be...


I had a recent comment on this blog:

Thanks for attending the New World Wine Experience. I'm sorry if you were disappointed not to find wines from Italy in the Grand Tasting (Italy not being, after all, one of what we consider the New World wine regions), but I hope you had a chance to taste the Nebbiolo from Cetto in Mexico. And perhaps have dinner at Piero Selvaggio's Valentino in the Venetian, which also has an amazing list of Italian wines.

Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator


Um, Thomas, thanks for the concern. But as an original Californian, the wines (or the people) from the New World are not a disappointment to me. They are part of my DNA. I am, when it is all said and done, a child of California, and so very proud of my home state (and I'm not talking about baseball).

Walking through the halls of the recent Wine Spectator Experience, so many people who I have worked with for many years. Dear friends. People who speak in my dialect. My tribe.