Pages

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Land of Giants

Last week we got off the grid. Back to nature. No phones, no email, no blogging. Took hikes, cooked, read three books (analog), shot pictures, cooked, drank wine and looked at the United States from the other side of the Juan de Fuca Strait. And did a mess of thinking.

And while I did a lot of thinking about the country I was born and live in, my thoughts also were in Piedmont. In fact when I came back I posted that little one about the Cannubi matter.

In my research, I read and pored over maps, old catalogs, pictures, all kinds of ephemera I have saved over the decades.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

To Cannubi or not to Cannubi?

I am writing this as an outsider; one who loves the wines of the Langhe. And as an outsider I am blinded by distance but clarified by the perspective that distance gives. As well, there are many on site and around the world that are infinitely more qualified to give the definitive argument. As with my character I will not sing into that microphone, but will point myself more towards an existential viewpoint. But first, some basic information.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Last Leg

From the archives - posted 12/27/09

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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No Time for La Bella Figura

From the archives - posted 06/15/10


While the wine world wrestles with the issue of what makes a wine natural, I am pointing my camera in another alley. I love natural wines, women and songs. But today I focus on the pressing issue of how Italians approach wine with regard to the impressions that surround those wines.

The standard definition (and one which can be debated for hours) for la bella figura is “to cut a good figure - to make the right impression - to look good.” But that’s more a jumping off point for where I am taking this post.

No, the alley I am walking into is lined with ideas and desires, an italo-centric view of the way things work - Italy as the center of the world. Egotistical? Could be. Fantastical? Without a doubt. Harmless? Absolutely not!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lament for an Old Giant

from the archives - posted 7/2/09

It seems like everyday we get another headline announcing the passing of someone who was part of the larger American family. I have been thinking about this iconic Tuscan wine, one that grew up with America. And as America developed, so this wine also expanded in the marketplace and on tables across America. For many people this wine came to symbolize Italian wine. In restaurants, surely, in its day, the top tier had more swagger than Brunello.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Le avventure di Ginocchio

"Canta pure, Grillo mio, come ti pare e piace"

Dining out the other night, we ordered a wine, a simple Rosso di Montepulciano. The server tussled with the cork, but eventually expunged it. On first sniffing the wine and then sampling it, I thought it had an ever-so-slight trace of corkiness. But it was so minute I chalked it up to watching the server struggle with the cork and imagined some sort of transference.

A few minutes into it though, the funk appeared to be magnifying. And then it vanished, only to pop up and disappear a few times. It wasn’t that the wine was bad, but the wine was making itself a larger part of the meal than it needed to be. All of this going through my head as other things were going on around the table. Little monkey-brain chatter, “This wine isn’t right.” “Stop griping and enjoy the experience.” “But something’s wrong.” “Shut up and let me enjoy the meal and company.” This mad little dialogue endured until the cloud drifted away sometime before desserts appeared.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bank On It

"The wise man does at once what the fool does finally."- Niccolo Machiavelli

Money seems to be on everyone’s mind. The European Community is striving to pull Greece and Spain away from the ledge. In America, people are still spending money they don’t have. Last night I witnessed weekend millionaires spending money in ways that I could never bring myself to do. And I am more likely able to afford to spend the way I saw these folks spending. Not that I ever would. It’s highly predictable that they do this every Friday and Saturday night, if not Thursday as well as Sunday brunch. Their debts add up. Until no shovel will be able to dig them out.

Did the “millionaire weekend” contagion pass from the local party-goers to Spain and Greece? Is there something about the thrill of getting something without having to earn it, save for it and then pay for it? Is it human nature? Wiring? Greed? Impatience? Or just a lack of imagination?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Curative Dose

"There is nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on.”― Rod Serling

Yesterday on NPR’s Marketplace Kai Ryssdal interviewed Marco Bardazzi of the newspaper La Stampa in Turin, Italy. Mr. Bardazzi had some interesting observations. Read for yourself:

Ryssdal: How's the mood in Italy these days with all the turmoil around you in Spain and Greece?

Bardazzi: Well the mood is bad because we see that the situation is not improving and there are a lot of problems all around Europe. We are really looking forward for a European meeting that is scheduled on June 28 in Brussels. We are looking at that as the possible turning point in the crisis, but we are not sure that this will happen.

Ryssdal: Haven't we been at the turning point many times before though?

Bardazzi: Yes, you are right. We have hoped for several other turning points so we don't know if this will be another hope for Europe, but really it comes down to this meeting on June 28 that could decide what will happen to the euro and the European Union.

Ryssdal: Do Italians ever look at the United States and say to themselves, man you guys think you have troubles, but you don't know what you're talking about -- this is really rough over here.

Bardazzi: Yes, there's a strange feeling right now toward the United States. Some people think that the U.S. are those that have put us in trouble right now. At the same time there are many others who think that from the United States we can see some signs of recovery and we don't have those signs here.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Under the Tuscan Scum

Il Prezzo del Potere

“What do you think of Gaja’s Brunello?” a wine enthusiast sidled up behind me and asked. It’s the kind of question I have been getting more often. Folks who are getting into Italian wines or who have just come back from two weeks in Tuscany. You know the kind where they find a villa outside of San Gimignano and share it with two or three other couples and their scadload of kids. Private chef, day trips in and out of the compound (“Just make sure you get back before it gets dark”). Insulated from the scary Italy. Safe for the American kids. Under (but not among) the Tuscan Sun.

What do they want me to say? Of course I've had the wine, had it before Gaja bought it, back when I was poor but could still afford it.