Thursday, December 30, 2010

Colli Orientali Flashback - A Generation Ago

"Follow your own star" ~ Dante Alighieri

The wine trail in Italy  ~ 1988 ~ Colli Orientali del Friuli

It had been a difficult spring. A beer company had bought the wine company I was working for and we were transitioning to their offices. A last minute offer had been proffered (literally “here’s our offer, take it or leave it”) and I reluctantly took it. It was a job, but the pay was terrible, the drive was long and the folks who hired me had no idea what I did or what the fine wine business was all about. It would be the first, and not the last time, beer people invaded my world and made a mess of my life. So what to do, but go to Italy for a couple of weeks?

After settling in at my base on the Adriatic, San Benedetto del Tronto, and having my fill of fresh seafood and white wine from the Marche and Abruzzo, I borrowed a car from a friend and headed up the coast towards Venice. I had my gal Lizanne with me on the trip. She was years away from being diagnosed with the dreaded disease that would kill her in too short of a time. We were in full blaze of youth, bulletproof and had a car.

The plan was to go to Venice, Ravenna and Friuli, specifically the Colli Orientali, where two wine estates were part of the world waiting back home, if there was a home to go back to. Unbeknownst to me, two of my colleagues would unsuccessfully plot to render my position irrelevant in a lustful grab for my job. I had a corner office and a Vice-president title. I learned that those two things are not all what people think they are, myself having long ago surrendered to the fields in flyover country that constantly needed plowing and refreshing. But the sun was shining on an Adriatic Italy and I had my Beatrice, and her love, and was heading to Udine.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Antonio Galloni's Christmas Gift to Pio Cesare

Gregory Balogh, President of Maisons Marques & Domaines celebrates with winemaker Pio Boffa

Folks have been waiting for the latest Wine Advocate to come out, as it is featuring the wines from Piedmont. One of the most respected names in Italian wine, Antonio Galloni, chimes in here with his report and tasting notes for Pio Cesare wines. Bravo to Pio Boffa and family and the Maison Marques & Domaines Importers, for a round of stellar reviews. A great way to end the year and bring in a new one - with a bang! Read the report on The Blend: here.

Buon Anno, y’all!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Once Upon a Spring Day

Looking back over the year, one of the best times I had in 2010 was Easter with Brett Jones and Wink Lorch. We met at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley and stayed in touch via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and email. Wink had invited me to come visit her and Brett at their chalet in the Haut-Savoie. And when I had time between Bordeaux and Italy I made the trek.

It was one of those magical times. The snow was falling and the ski runs were teeming with skiers. I wish I had learned to ski when I was younger. But, alas, I was relegated to the little stops along the way to sit in the sun and drink crisp white wines from the area. Wink and Brett would join me after taking on a mountain or two. We had a great time. And really they taught me so much about the wines from the Jura and Haute-Savoie (is there anyone, anywhere with a greater knowledge of those wines? I don’t think so). And Brett, the consummate wine professional and gentleman. How I wish we had more of him in our business in America. All told, the few days I spent there were magical, the food, the wine, the weather, the intelligent conversation. It was one of the highlights of the year. Thanks so very much, Wink and Brett! By the way their chalet has occasional availability, check it out here Sharing it again, with you, dear readers, on this cold winter day after Christmas, which Brett and Wink know as Boxing Day.

Festive times – I’m on my way to the country for more wine and food and family time. Cheers!

More pictures after the break...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas...

...and here's to a Happy (and Bubbly) New Year!

That's one of the new Prosecco DOCG's, Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, from Montesel - a small  grower who makes a lovely wine.

written by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Day in the Life...

...of a fool
Where are we? Two days before Christmas? And here I am running around with wine in the back, my apron and box cutter, my camera, running, running, searching for meaning in this little foolish life off to the corner of a country in the middle of nowhere. On the radio, Diane Krall begs, Besame Mucho, while her guitarist (Anthony Wilson?) strums softly in the background. Is that what it is we are merely doing, strumming softly? Perhaps keeping the beat until the beat is no longer beating… OK, OK, I wont get all Irish and maudlin on ya. There are some fun things happening too. And it is Christmas.

Today really was such a wonderful day. A quick trip to the office to check in, make a few notes, get ready for the Vino2011 event in NY in a month (I’ll be on a panel there) and then a couple of quick meetings. And back onto the streets.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Italian Wine and Food Business is booming in Flyover Country!

Yeah, you can laugh at "them Texans" with their funny accents and their big hair, but where in America can you find, on the Monday before Christmas, a restaurant doing a wine dinner that packed the house? Had to turn people away? On Football night? Basketball too? Did I say it was the Monday before Christmas? And the first night in 456 years since we last had a total lunar eclipse?

Well, the friends of Salvatore’s Gisellu’s smashing success, Urban Crust, located, in all places, old Plano, they came, they drank and they ate. And ate. And drank some more. And with long tables like that I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them got up on the tables and starting dancing!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Contemplating the Next Move

Maybe it is because we are nearing the end of another year. Or because the last five months have been so very busy. Perhaps it is the new look of the blog that has caused me to think about this. Or maybe this is just overindulgence from one who thinks too much about this. I don’t really know.

What I do know is this- the world as we know it, as we all know it, is our own little unique world. And everyone has one. Some of us have bigger orbits; some of us have more mobility. A few of us have means to make their world bigger than others. And many more of us have a world that has been handed to them, in an instant, and with little time to plan. And here we are, all together, but separated by our skulls. And so we aren’t really all together. We just live on the same funny little green planet. More by accident than design.

I have been writing here at On the Wine Trail in Italy for almost five years now. I have met new friends, made new acquaintance, widened the network. It has been a good run.

And no, I am not signing off or taking leave. Or at least, I don’t think so. But I am contemplating the next move.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Traffic Cone and Cannolo Porn - Starting the year end wrap-up

One traffic cone, two traffic cones ~ Traffic Cone Porn
I started going over 8,000 photographs from the year. After getting through January and February, I decided to procrastinate. Along the way I found these shots. Just a random offering of images that somehow seem to fit, albeit very loosely. I’m feeling a little risqué, in a laid-back on-the-couch kind-of-way. Anyway, just a little lagniappe. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Good Enough For Now

I’m so very sorry. I seem to have fallen off the wine trail, once again. I don’t know what to tell you. I know you want to know more about where to visit in Tuscany, or which are the best 2007 Barolos on the market. But I’m not able to fulfill those needs. I have been distracted. By life. By work. By the here and now. And here we are entering the mainstream of the holidays, so most likely there will be more of this from these pages.

In five years, the wine trail has gone through Italy, often. But life isn’t all about wine. Or Italy. I love the place and the wines, don’t get me wrong. I just have a larger world that I have been handed. And not a lot of time. So there you have it. Welcome aboard or bon voyage.

New Look for On the Wine Trail in Italy

After five years and countless html fiddling around with this site, I figured I should oughta change it before it becomes a “classic” site. Anyway, just something I have been working on, figured the blog needed a fresher look. I’m still working out some of the kinks, but if I didn’t put it up today, it might have sat in the developer’s box for another five months. So here goes. Hope you like it. The photo above was made in Panzano, Italy, the vineyards of Castello di Rampolla. I shot the picture about four years ago when I visited the place.

Thanks for reading and following my writing on (and sometimes very far off) the wine trail in Italy, and anywhere else my eyes and heart do roam.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mercury on a Rising Mississippi

Was I in Paris? Palermo? Havana? Walking along a dark street on my way to a dinner appointment I was reminded of the day that had just unfolded. December in an antique of a city. Cold, misty; still hazy from a million nights of hedonism, chastened by a river.

I started with Sherry, a Fino. It seemed to be a good choice with the amuse bouche of candied pecan, Rio Star grapefruit, lying in a mousseline of bacon. A little micro greens thrown on the top, it looked like a deconstructed Christmas tree, and it did match well with the salty sips of the Spanish wine.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

New Oil

Another year has come and vanished. Another harvest. And the new oil is now here. New oil, showing us the promise of the harvest in its sharpest, youngest, most fiery expression. Lovely stuff, as long as you just taste a little bit. Not too much.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Batting .333

It never gets easier. 30 years doing this. Someone forgets something. Like history, for example. And then, there we are, back at the starting gate, back at 1980. Holy cripes, this stings, like a brush-back fastball that veered into the crotch.

But I'm batting 1 for 3, which is better than Derek Jeter did last year. And look what he’s holding out for. Maybe the glass 1/3 full is good enough? Do you really want the details? I guess I better get this confession going.