Sunday, April 29, 2012

An Eternity of Mondays

Your job isn’t who you are,” the little monkey voice inside the head kept chattering. Yeah, yeah, heard it all so many times before in a been-there-done-that kind of way. Wave after wave of images roll onto the shores of my short term recall, trying to evoke a response or any sign of life. Only to return back to the abyss of the deep sea of memory. It’s going to be a long night, but when it’s all said and done it’ll be another Monday.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Want an Award Winning Wine list and don’t want to pay $250 to the Wine Spectator? Lean in…

The past week has been busy as hell. I have found myself in countless restaurants in South Texas, West Texas and North Texas. That would be like saying you were in Champagne, Languedoc and Bordeaux. Or Piemonte, Tuscany and Sicily. And in fact, we have been tasting wine from those regions of Italy. And then some.

I was talking to a restaurateur today and he was grilling me about pasta. He really seemed to value my thoughts about the subject. I was humbled but honored. Likewise, I hope some of the wine directors I have run across this week are as curious about the wine regions I am so fond of. I have had tutoring this week from two of the best in the business, Bobby Stuckey and Damon Ornowski, both master sommeliers and both living in Colorado. They also travel extensively. They shed some light on the endless process of refinement.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Going the Whole Hog

Sometimes life is a cornucopia of events. And sometimes it’s a dry well in the desert. And this week, while it is tending more towards the first, we are going the whole hog.

Master sommelier Bobby Stuckey and chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have been sauntering across Texas with their Frasca/Scarpetta road show. Dallas on Tuesday, Austin on Wednesday, Houston on Thursday, that kind of deal. And while tomorrow will find me on a totally ‘nother wine trail, today we lingered in Italy; Friuli to be exact. And man, was it good.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

From Tuscan to Texan in less than a week

I wasn’t sure how long it would take for Jacopo Bacci to fall into Texas, but as expected it took less than a week. Sure the weather has been great, and places like Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and Buffalo Gap were struttin’ their finest stuff in front of the young man. And so it goes, Jacopo has been snake-bitten by life out West; and that’s a very good thing for Tuscany and for Texas.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit 2012 - First Slideshow

Busy time out here in West Texas - just a few photos - more to come... Keep smiling - keep drinking wine - keep dancing - keep hoping.

Ipad or Iphone viewers can view the photos here:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tuscany Slow Dances with West Texas at the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit

After Vinitaly and after Bordeaux en Primeur, then it is time for Texas. One of the events I so look forward to is the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit out in West Texas. Held for the past seven years at Perini Ranch, this year the theme is Italy and the wines and grapes of Tuscany. So we have rustled up some of our favorite Tuscan producers and we are gonna be scurrying out past Abilene deep into John Wayne country

The weather has been predicted for a beautiful spring weekend, which means days in the mid 70’s and nights in the near to low 40’s. Lots of sunshine and dust, the red clay dust of West Texas, which gets all up in your eyes and skin and everything and it is a wonderful thing. Chefs from all over Texas along with winemakers from Texas and a few friends from California who have Texas roots will meet up with the Tuscan contingency. It’s gonna be a ball. Like it always is.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Folly of Immortality

The personal Palio this week was unusually punishing, as if to remind us that one doesn’t just get older. There are forces out there that even though they seem to be random, aim to hurt and to mangle. Those in my world have been shaken, but not taken out. Not this time. But then, it’s only a matter of time.

I was talking to a young winemaker in Italy last month when the conversation headed philosophical. “We Italians are trying to do something with our wines that nobody else has tried. We are reimagining our history; recasting our future.” He was so young, and so serious. And so ardent. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that when he went to bed that night and woke up the next morning it would be 30 years later. He wouldn’t have understood, or even cared. The purpose of being young is to be in a constant state of youth. After all, what does a young person have their whole life except their youth? Let them enjoy it; time will chip away at it sooner than they think.

Back in Siena, as I walked around the Piazza del Campo and made the circuit a time or two, clicking off the minutes before I had to meet some friends, I thought of the blood, sweat and tears that infused this place in July and August . Some folly, but what a great drama nonetheless. Due palio così.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Italian Children

It is said crappy soil makes the best wine. Likewise, the people that spring from that earth as well are something special. Siblings Valeria and Riccardo Losi I have known since they were babies, Riccardo playing soccer with my son in the craggy lot and Valeria being held by her mom as she had recently arrived on earth. And while they have their very own dad, who is a friend and very cool, I kind of think of these two as my kids too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In Close Proximity...

      All hat, no cattle? Think again

Pastoral 19th century scene @ Latour
When traveling back to America there is a customs form asking all manner of questions. I am usually perplexed when they ask if I have been on a farm. Does a vineyard qualify? When they ask if I have been "in close proximity" of livestock (with the query as to whether or not I have touched livestock) again I have to pause.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

What really matters?

Cinquecento @ Lafite

After being on the road for over two weeks, I am finally home in my own bed. It feels really good. Spain, Italy, France, two wine events, Vinitaly and Bordeaux En Primeur. Hundreds, dare I say thousand(s), of wines tasted. The last day alone we sat and tasted nearly 100 of the 2011 Bordeaux wines. Madness. Absolute madness. Driving up and down the roads of the Medoc, through all the communes, Pauillac, Margaux, all of them. Days spent on the Right Bank, Graves, Pessac-Leognan. Visits to every one of the First Growths and most of the Second Growths. Pomerol, including Petrus, Le Pin, La Fleur, Vieux Chateau Certan, Clinet. St Emilion superstars. And lots of Champagne tasted as well. And that’s just France.

And Italy, the reason this blog came about? Italy seems like so long ago now, but those four days at Vinitaly were packed with tastings, meetings, visits, dinners, hopes and dreams. And in between Vinitaly and En Primeurs I actually got to get on the wine trail in Italy. I even had a day or so to wander. It was in Tuscany, which at this time of the year was fresh and cool, although a bit dry.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Living in interesting times in Italy

Lingering under the Tuscan moon last week, my travel companion and I had just finished an unforgettable meal in Siena. The 10 minute walk back to the hotel enlivened us and so we sat outside and wrapped up the evening.

What came out of this recent trip, which was punctuated by our conversation, is that Italy is in a dangerous but very opportune moment. Not any more dangerous than in 1968 or 1975 by any means, but the world in general has accelerated the risks we all are exposed to by just living in these times.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The New Symbol of Excellence

The biggest news that came out of Vinitaly 2012 last week was the announcement of an agreement the Italian government reached with the EU in Brussels to accept the proposal for a level of wine similar to the DOCG within the European DOP protocol. Giuseppe Martellino, President of the Com.Media Nazionale Vini had this to say, “Italy produces wine at the highest levels and it is only right that we continue to reward and recognize those wines of greatness in the organization of our wine laws, not only in Italy but in the European community. Today Italy and her wine industry have seen that recognition by our neighbors and colleagues. This is a great day for Italian wines!”