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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Well-Kept Wine

Whether we’re talking Italy or America, it doesn’t matter. Someone has an opinion about the way one should treat a wine. I rather imagine this comes from deeper seated ideas about life, love and one’s place in the scheme of things. If one is the center of their universe or if one is watching the spectacle from a corner seat, there is plenty of variation. And entertainment value.

I am in Franciacorta today. The harvest is wrapping up; the wineries are redolent with the smell of grapes having wild monkey sex in the fermentation tanks. This is the moment. Tonight’s the night. Or in the case of Franciacorta, tonight, and sometime maybe 6 years from now, is the night.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Little 'ol Hurricane Ain't Nothin' to a Terrone

I’ll be posting from Italy in the next week or so. Work takes me back again, this time for an educational trip with a couple of managers in my company. We’ll be meeting up with some of our winery friends in Franciacorta-land and Tuscany.

Before heading off though, I managed to meet a future client over at the latest pizzeria Napoletana in Dallas, named Dough. Doug Horn has taken the concept on the road from his original spot in San Antonio. I am especially excited about this one because, 1) it is near my home and 2) the wine list is exciting and 3) the pizza is as good as it gets.

We started off last night with an Aperol spritz before heading into wine country. Fortunately for us, the heat is still blistering and that extends the rosé season.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Italian Wine Map Porn, Long Lost Cousins and My Favorite Fizzy Red in Austin

Ron Wight and Scott Ota checking out the sexy Italian centerfold
Sometimes I think I should just shuck it all and live out of my suitcase. It seem like that’s pretty much what I have been doing all summer. And with a full fall schedule ahead of me, maybe it’s time to do the radical downsize. Who would know? All my stuff? Yeah, right.

This week I have been holding out in Austin, where wine dinners and work-withs have taken me. Not too many folks are buying, but this is the seed planting time. Working in August doesn’t produce instant results, but when the cool weather returns and folks get their minds right to do some business, all the hard work in the heat pays off.

Austin just passed a milestone: 70 days over 100 °F, breaking the previous record set in 1925. Right now as I write, it is almost midnight and outside the temperature is still 99°F. Like one lady said on the radio today, “I don’t want to die and go to hell, but it just might be cooler than Austin.”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thinking Locally, Fighting Globally

"Just Do It"
Photo by Samuel Aranda  for The New York Times
With events in Libya seemingly coming to a conclusion, I happened upon the NY Times Lens blog and looked back at six months of events in that country. A couple of images stood out. They referred to a larger identity, one beyond a tribal or Libyan or African identity. For better or worse, global brands have infiltrated even the revolution. The images tell the story.

Along with that, the ad campaigns, the slogans, for some of these iconic brands, how they intersect the living history we are witnessing before our screens and our eyes. Often not the slogan that fits, in this insurrection, but a moment to think about those things and larger issues.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Night Li Veli

from the "critical-schmitical" dept...

Anyone who knows me a little might have figured out that I love white wine. Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Verdicchio, Vermentino, Friulano, you name it. I love white wine. And then I love rosé. But not to steal anyone’s thunder, I am here to heap praise upon a white wine I just had.

From Apulia and the Masseria Li Veli comes the Askos Verdeca. Old vines, certified organic, no wood, no malo, just a glass of scrumptious flavor. A white wine that is as serious as a red wine. A wine after my own heart, even in its semi-broken down state. A wine for today, for tonight and for all night long. Does it sound like I am wanting to get my drink on?

Well, my friend, if you just went through the week I went through, you might be looking for something to take you away. And hey, you probably did go through the week I just went through, or maybe something similar. If not last week, then another time. In any case, I think you know what I am saying.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

TexSom 2011 - Slideshow

A smattering of images from the epic weekend. Craig Collins, MS, reported, as Rajat Parr was leaving to catch a jet to another fabulous place, he told him that "TexSom 2011 was the best wine conference" he'd ever been to. Great work guys!



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Serge Hochar Blows My Mind – Again!

…from the déjà vu département

Serge Hochar shares a story with sommelier Jason Huerta
When I first met Serge Hochar, he was making a quick run through the United States to promote the wines of his family’s Château Musar. It was the early 1980’s and he literally had to take his life in his own hands to get to the airport to leave Beirut, as Lebanon was in the midst of a war that would take the lives of countless souls. The stories he told me over lunch that day 25+ years ago, etched in my mind and fueled the fire in my belly to pursue a life of wine with passion and without fear.

And here we were again, a generation later, our skulls now colored grey, celebrating the wines of Musar and life with our younger peers.

Serge is like the Sardinian shepherd to me. He lives in a small world but a very large universe. And his universe is populated with interesting people, passionate subjects and spices and intrigue in a life of wine one can only dream of.

That said, his life hasn’t been easy. In fact, Serge and his family, the closest thing we have to the heirs to the throne of Bacchus, have had to struggle most of their lives. But Lebanon is a special place for wine. The Romans built a temple to the wine god in Baalbek, a town in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, known in ancient times as Heliopolis. So, those of us who are devotees of Bacchus have a fondness in our hearts for Lebanon and her wines.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dreaming at the Speed of Wine

“You’re all over the place!” my friend Mario said to me. For sure, the past month has been a roller-coaster ride, from Canada to Italy, over to NY and Rhode Island and back to Dallas, only to shove off to Austin and then back to Dallas Just in time for TexSom VII. So as I was chatting up a French chef over a bottle of Chateau de La Chaize Brouilly, my friend Mario was ruminating over my movements.

“Mario, how come I have never seen you drink wine?” I asked him. At which time he picked up the glass of Beaujolais and took a sip. Something I thought I would never see. Mario is soon to be 95, you see, and an avowed Dubonnet and Scotch man. No wine for him. But he recently went through a hip replacement and some heart work and he was down for a few months getting himself healed. But now he’s back and walking with barely the aid of a cane. He’s not afraid of change. Hey, I got him to drink red wine. Now if I can just get him to try some Italian wine, maybe even something Sicilian, like where our people came from.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

La Notte di San Lorenzo Guido

Study of ecstasy in a glass of Valpolicella
My blogger amica Susannah noted the August 10 holiday in Italy, La Notte di San Lorenzo, on her blog, Avvinare, “August 10 is celebrated in Italy and by Italians throughout the world as the night of the shooting stars. This film by the Taviani brothers is one of my old time favorites. This night is famous because you can see a host of shooting stars in the night sky and of course, as we all know, you make a wish when you see one.”

“Historically, the night of the shooting stars is supposed to commemorate the tears of San Lorenzo who met his end on this day in the III century.”

And it was an introduction that we really did it up in the Circolo del Vino in Dallas at Paul and Mike Di Carlo’s wine and food Mecca, Jimmy’s. And while the name harkens not in any paranomastic way, shape or form, it was a night of shooting stars.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Alice's Odyssey

Nudi venimus ~ Nudi discedimus
                                            Playing Tag at Night                       Laurel Casaletto

From the perch of my loft on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island during a recent vacation, I pulled out Alice Feiring's latest book, Naked Wine. Amidst towering trees, some that were saplings before the Renaissance, it was the perfect place to dive into her compact, 200-page tome. Alice sets her sails, back and forth, between California, France, Spain and her five-story walk-up in Little Italy. I don’t envy her the task. She has her critics, some of whom think she writes about wine merely to extend her eccentric arguments about wine and life to a larger audience. Alice writes, looking for something more elusive, some key to her place in this world. And her message is resonating with people.

In the wine arena there are all kinds of players and philosophies. And likely in 500 years there still will be. So to celebrate wines that are apart from the mainstream, whether they are organic or biodynamic or natural or just plain quirky, why not? There are plenty of critics who pay obeisance to the steamrollers of wine, to the tall skyscrapers of production, to the mega-powerfully flavored wines that garner points and awards and big bucks. In fact, to turn away from them for 200 pages might even cause some to wonder where it is we have gone this past generation in our search for bigger, better, broader, bolder.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Last Leg

from the "uchronic meanderings" department


Thursday Aug 4
The trip out of Rustic Tuscany was bumpy. After a week of cloudless days, it started to rain in Pisa. And rain it did, all the way to New York. The rains must have rusted the cargo bay doors at JFK, because we waited over two hours for our luggage. Really funny to be with several score of Italians, coming to America for holiday, and to hear them talk of the situation like we do about Fiumicino or Malpensa.

New York was wet, but not unbearably so. It actually cooled the city down. I stopped to crash a night at a friend’s house, seeing as I lost my connection to Providence. We walked to a local pizzeria, and had a bite. And while I had beer, I did notice there were plenty of cool wines to sample, including some of Angiolino Maule’s wine and also an interesting Gragnano.

Odd that Maule’s wines come through Dressner, what with the yeast thing and all. Such a nice guy. Maule, that is.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The e-mail one never wants to get from a winery in August


Aug 2, 2011
Dear ______,
Just to inform you that Mr. (and Mrs.) ________ did not show at the appointment.
______ __________ and ______ _____, waiting for them since 10:30, can stay until 1:00 pm. Then they have to attend other obligations and the visit will be considered cancelled.

Best regards,

_____________

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Bad enough when it happens - But when people delay their vacation and the visitor is a no-show? Oh, and the winery folks prepared a nice lunch too. And the importer folks did their due diligence in getting the no-show to fill out a form. A lot of good it did  the importer and the winery. All I can do is apologize to them profusely for something someone else didn't do.

Well, let's just say this is one of the easiest ways to incur my wrath for a very long time

But let's back track - This was a process we started back in June and then after the 4th of July holiday, we started sending out emails, via the importer and to the winery. Take a look at the process:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Which Wine with Fish? How's About Red, White & Rosé?

Over the course of a few days, on special assignment in Italy, our travels landed us by the sea. And as anyone who follows this blog knows, I loves me some seafood. Whether it is live Dungeness crabs from Canada or an array of fish and shellfish from the Mediterranean, I’m always ready for a platter of seafood. Lately there has been talk on some of my pals blogs about the right wine with seafood. And after I read through them, I was presented with the opportunity to make further evaluations on the subject.

Monday, August 01, 2011

An Italian Girl Finally Stole My Heart

I’m going to divert from my normally prescient state to a case of absolute infatuation. I have finally fallen for an Italian girl.

First, this is an old soul. A very old soul. Ensconced in the body of a seven year old. I am totally under her spell. If this were Jeremy’s blog it would be in the year 2019 and he would be blogging about his and Tracie’s daughter. Yeah – the shape of things to come, amici.