Sunday, January 16, 2011

Three Glasses

"Spill the wine ~ take that pearl"

The holidays have barely ended. It was a long work up from August until Dec 37th. And then back onto the road. This was the first week of many more to come, to work on growing the Italian wine business so many more folks may sleep well at night knowing there are those of us who are working long hours to keep the world safe for Italian wine. No matter how the Italians will manage to change direction in the next year or so.

Right now the Euro is relatively stable. People are coming out and eating and drinking and spending a little more, even in economically depressed areas. This past week I spent time in and around New Orleans. The smell of oil from the spill has gone, but the sting of the event lingers. People in this region are hurt. And they are emotional. You can tell by driving on the streets, if you are a cipher to those emotions, which, for better or worse, I am. But the spirit of the folk in this region is indomitable. Lots of resilience here. And a joy for life, even as we are on this little orb hurtling as some unimaginable speed through space as we are scattered in another direction at another totally unbelievable speed, by the galaxy whose teat we suckle at. And this, with the faint hint that in 5 billion or so years all will be nothing, not a grain of sand, not a speck of pepper. Wow, how’s that for an upbeat intro with a side of nihilism?


Giulio Galli and John Skidmore ~ They gots them a "Breaux-mance" going on
I am encouraged that there are some of us in the last week who have gotten the message to go out into the world and make it a better place. A kinder place. A less hostile place. A lot easier to do when one is selling wine than when one is pursuing law and order or politics or governance. Just lucky, I guess. So as we went out this past week with fellow colleagues it was with a spirit of resilience and optimism. And we were rewarded well.

One of my Italian importers, Giulio, I have profiled before. His son Leo is now almost two and growing, His daughter, Gia, is a perfect little princess. His dogs have died or gone missing. His lovely wife is by his side, his partner for better or worse. Not for better or else. This is a resilient family in pursuit of their American Dream.

I don’t know what it is when we were together this week, but twice I found myself talking with my hands and before I knew it, glasses, sometimes filled with red wine, sometimes with rose sparkling wine, sometimes empty, went flying. In imitation of our galaxy or our little planet. But this time wine was spilled, glasses were broken. Three glasses. And so I had to calm my conductor hands down so we wouldn’t spill anymore wine.

Precious stuff. Need to sell it, not spill it. I am sometimes, overly animated. Mea culpa.

Working lunch
Our world this past week, centered on Franciacorta and Maremma. Now I am a Franciacorta lover. Confession: I prefer it to Prosecco, personally. I like the process. I like the uniqueness of the wine. I like that they don’t put the sparkling liquid in flutes. My nose likes it. My hands like it. My mouth loves it.

And so, in Austin and in New Orleans, culinary crèche and crypt, we took some pearls out into the world. We made some new converts. Yeah, we spilled a little. Consider it a baptism of sorts.


Maremma. I struggle with Tuscany. Love it. Hate it. Delete it from my address book. Put it back in. Stalk it. Embrace it. Am spurned by it. Cower. Sulk. And crawl back for more. I am an idiot, but there is some sort of hold it has on me. So, I surrendered. And a good week it was, for I had some wines that surrounded me all week and showered sunshine on me, while we froze under grey skies and subfreezing weather, all the while soaking under the light of Tuscany. Vermentino, Alicante, the dreaded Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet, Malbec. Malbec? The wine I grouched to my buddy Bianca the other day after seeing her wine set had six Malbecs and only three Italian red wines in it? Yes, Malbec. And Petite Verdot and Cabernet and Sangiovese. Like I said, I surrendered. As I stared out from the Badiola onto the little Island, even though it was the third (or fifth) largest one surrounded Italy. Able was I, but a willing prisoner.

I sat sipping this little Tuscan wine, 12.5%; gee did I take a walk though the time travel label and go back into a time when wines were 11%, 12%? Like the 1970 Latour I recently opened, barely a 12% wine. And one with many more years on it?

Here was this little wine, a Tuscan, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec and I was thoroughly enjoying the sips.

And the Merlot, cento percento. My colleague James emailed me the other day,” Tell me about Masseto.” I couldn’t say much other than the time a friend bought a bottle of the ‘97 in Santa Monica at Osteria Angelini. God, it must have been $600 on the list. My childhood buddy figured out how to make more money making movies than I did selling wine. So we drank it empty and he wanted to try the ‘97 Dal Forno Amarone. Which we did. Ok, now I am starting to irritate myself, sounding like one of my young somelya buddies who posts every old, epic wine he is near and tasting. Stop. Focus.

Zeppole di Ricotta con Bomba Calabrese ~ New School
Ok, we’re back. Life on the road is hard. Cold weather. Funny pillows. Hard streets. Sore knees. Garlic. Traffic. Oysters on a rampage through my digestive system. Chased by fegatini di coneglio and trippa alla Romana. Closed with homemade amaro. Oh yeah, we’re back. Back on the road to hell. We better sell something.

Veal Parmigiana ~ Old School
And then we walk into a fluorescent lit back room of a super market or a meeting room filled with salespeople, and there are ears and eyes upon us. And they want to hear about Italy and the blood of Jove and the wine that pinches and bites and slaps and there exists just the slightest possibility that we might convert one more with a taste of Vernaccia or Franciacorta, and maybe, just maybe, someone will carry this one so that when I head out to my eternal splay we can dream that someone will carry this torch for a few more years to the next generation. Just like my mentor Al did, when he left New Orleans and met up with me in Dallas, and told me his stories and cast the vision and lit my fire.



The time to hesitate is through.



5 comments:

imobiliarias alegrete said...

very good

tom hyland said...

Alfonso:

I'm with you on Franciacorta - lovely wines!

As for a Tuscan red being 12.5% alcohol, what a problem to have, considering how many 14% and 14.5% reds there are from California these days!


Ci vediamo in New York prossima settimana.

Robert Massarella said...

Ditto on the 12.5% Alcohol levels...thanks to California and Australia producers, who seem more concerned with appealing to the "standalone" beer and scotch crowd, the heat levels just keep going up, up, up! Unless you drink to get drunk, increasingly hotter wine is not necessarily an improvement.

Drew said...

Funny I was about to comment on the EPIC wines you were drinnking. Next time just post a picture.

Alfonso Cevola said...

Ha! too funny, Drew... I think I'll leaving the posting of the epic wines to our young friend, Notorius Big D, the snazzy dresser...

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