Sunday, April 28, 2013

Italia, Quo Vadis?

Post #1,000
This past trip to Italy, I had the chance to wander the streets of Milan with a camera. I’d been hitting it hard at Vinitaly and on the wine trail, but the country seeps with emotion. Ever since my first trip to Italy, I have looked at it through the eyes of a photo-journalist. And this time what did I see?

Something I saw, in Trento as well as in Milan, and also in the countryside, was a growing anger among the youth of Italy. I’ve seen it for some time in America, but Italy was always a little more restrained, more measured in that all-out, let’s-take-it-down kind of nihilistic attitude. With 38% unemployment among the youth of Italy, that restraint could be coming to an end.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Screaming Eagle for Breakfast

There once was a time when one hungered for knowledge of the great wines. If one couldn’t taste the old classics, one could always read about them in Michael Broadbent’s book, The Great Vintage Wine Book. Or one could work for a company specializing in the sale of those great old wines. I was lucky to work for one of those companies in the beginning of my career, and the wines that I was able to try were memorable, to say the least.

Now, with social media, though, it seems we can witness a barrage of historical wines being tasted. Everywhere you turn, someone is opening up a bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc [“the ’47 showed! But I was torn – loved the ’45 (Mouton)"]. Or turn your twitter on and you find and endless barrage of young twits proclaiming their prodigious manhood while they slam a bottle of ’23 Krug, straight from the bottle. Everywhere you turn, there seems to be this need to flex and strut about their access to great wines.

But does having access to great wines make one a great wine taster? Or simply a taster of great wines?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Where was the Wine Advocate at Vinitaly?

I woke up this morning and didn’t know where I was or what day it was. I’ve been traveling a bit lately. Fortunately I was in West Texas and among friends. Which, considering my orientation, is no easy task. 

Something about Vinitaly has been bothering me. As much as this last Vinitaly was a blur, what with way too many obligatory meetings (and twice as many that I was unable to make), friends who I never got to see, and not enough time in the 15 minutes that was allotted to me. No, what is kind of bothering me was some of the missing press coverage. The Wine Spectator made a giant leap into the Italian pudding, they showed up. The Wine enthusiast folks were also there, although Monica Larner, their Italian reporter, reported that she was in France. Odd, huh?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Italy from a different perspective

Photos by Col. Chris Hadfield
Once I arrived back home from Italy and the Vinitaly show, I spent two days on my back in bed, exhausted from a most intense visit to Italy. It was a great trip, but too much crammed into it, so I paid the price. I spent the two days in bed mainly to get through the exhaustion time as soon as I could, as I had to get back on the road. This week I have been on an Italian blitz in Missouri and am just finishing it up so I can head back to Texas and go out to Abilene in West Texas for the Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit. In the meantime here are some random thoughts about Italy from notes I made over the past week or so.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thoughts while watching a sheep being skinned in Tuscany

When we arrived to the place we would be staying after Vinitaly, we first stopped at the nearest neighbor’s house. They are shepherds from Sardegna who moved to this remote corner of Tuscany many years ago. I loitered around one of the feeding pens to look, listen and take in the aromas of sheep world. There were a few there who looked up from their feeding; they really are such wonderfully expressive creatures.

In the other room, Giovanni was calling to me. Crossing over a barrier, I eventually made it outside to where he was. I saw several cats that looked like they had dipped their heads in red paint. When I stepped outside I saw why.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Vinitaly XLVII round-up (w/news about #Vinitaly2014)

“One of the best Vinitaly in years” would probably be my way to say it. Along with all the hustle and confusion that this Italian wine fair comes with, there are also a lot of good things that come out of it.

Number one is that this is an amazing concentration of wine talent assembled all in one place. I daresay one would have to cast a wider net to find an event that has this amount of energy and hope, passion and quality.

For me, Vinitaly (#47) was also personally satisfying. My Italian peers have recognized the years that I have spent on the wine trail in Italy. I owe much of this focus to Stevie Kim in her non-linear and non-traditional way of looking at Italian wine in the world. Stevie, thank you and all your hard working staff (a special thanks to Susannah Gold for introducing me to Stevie and being my speech coach :) .

Aside from that presently I am deep in the Tuscan countryside and preparing to return home. Sunspot activity apparently has hindered internet and wireless transmissions, so I will post more when I get back.

Save the date: Vinitaly 2014 will be APRIL 6-9

Some pictures from the event (after the break) – more to come…

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Vinitaly XLVII Notebook: Good times with good friends in 2013

Vinitaly, what can you say? Anything can happen.

While it is easy to make light of some things and zoom in on other things, what it all comes down to is one’s attitude. This evening we went to Montebello Vicentino for a group dinner of old and new friends. I encountered Dr. Science himself, Attilio Scienza and we chatted briefly about his work in Calabria. He has done amazing things down there with the Librandi in cataloguing in a living museum vineyard many of the ancient grapes of the region. A living legend resuscitated some very important patrimony for the history of wine and vines in Italy. How lucky to be living in these times with these people.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Trento Report: €3 Euro Muller-Thurgau, red wine with white fish (and green asparagus) and Summa XIII

A bad day in Italy can often be better than a good day in many other places. And a good day, well, let’s just say that’s off the charts. I haven’t been here long but the wine gods have been good to me.

I’m in Trento for Summa 13, a yearly wine event that Alois Lageder holds. While the Vini Veri and the Vin Natur folks are holding their Vinitaly-alternate events, up here in Alto Adige, Summa is the wine event I’d take Jerry Garcia to. It’s laid back, a little hippy-ish, good vibes, great food and no pressure. All this before I jump into the Vinitaly fair on Sunday.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Vinitaly XLVII - The Super Bowl of Italian Wine

Flashback: Vinitaly 14 - ICE president Luigi Deserti
welcomes Burton Anderson, John Mariani and Lou Iacucci
This’ll be quick, as it is late and I’m still packing for Vinitaly – I’ve been going to the Big Show for many years now. It all seems like yesterday. And some of the giants then are just memories now. That’s the way it is, isn’t it?

I’ll be there this year again, with a load of customers and colleagues and friends and a few surprises along the way. Bear with us, internet connections aren’t always so easy to get.

If you haven’t read it yet and you are coming to Vinitaly this year, print yourself a copy of this post:
First-Timer's Guide to finding the best bathrooms at Vinitaly along with a copy of the map I modified to show you where the best rest stops are – this post has generated massive traffic and it’s my way of honoring George Costanza, who had a fixation on the WC’s of NYC.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Quintarelli's New Importer in the US is Great News for Italian Wine Lovers

No, this is not an April Fool’s joke. This is the real deal. Busily preparing myself for Vinitaly, which starts this Sunday (Saturday for me, but that’s a whole ‘nother announcement) my inbox had this important news from the folks at Kermit Lynch. Quintarelli has found a new home! And that is great news on a number of level, which I won’t go into here.

Please read the following note from the new importer and let’s all raise a glass to the memory of Giuseppe Quintarelli with fond wishes for his family to have even more success in America. Truly great news and a great day for Italian wine lovers. The announcement below:

Dear Clients,
It is our pleasure and privilege to announce one of our most exciting collaborations since Kermit founded his company in 1972.

We are dedicating this brochure to the late, great Maestro del Veneto, Giuseppe Quintarelli. We have been honored by his family’s confidence in entrusting us with the importation and distribution of their wines in the United States. It is exciting to report that this formidable estate is in capable hands for the future, despite the tragic loss (in January of last year) of its spiritual leader for the past half century. All of the tradition, love, heart, and soul of crafting one of the world’s finest wines continue with the Quintarelli family. Giuseppe’s wife Franca, his daughter Fiorenza, his son-in-law Giampaolo, and his grandsons Francesco and Lorenzo are all keeping a close watch over the family’s legacy.
It is impossible to speak about Quintarelli without superlatives. The name itself stands for so much: the family, the wines, a style, a tradition, a way of doing things. After all the time, effort, patience, and care that go into the making of a bottle of Quintarelli, it truly does mean so much more than wine.
Nothing is ever hurried at Quintarelli. The wines take their time and are given the time they need. In the still, quiet calm of the family cellars on a hillside above the town of Negrar, along the winding via del Cerè, deep in the Valpolicella zone, the wine from the fruit of these hillsides ages patiently and gracefully in large casks until it is ready to meet the world. Every release is a masterpiece, a testament to time, tradition, skill, and passion, the creation of a master artisan. As you will see, virtually every wine released this year is at least ten years old already. You can’t really compare these wines to any other in the region, or anywhere else in the world. They are in a class all their own.
Many of you are, of course, very familiar with these wines. For those of you who are not, we hope that you will all have the opportunity to taste and experience at least one bottle in your lifetime. 
Dixon Brooke

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

Monday, April 01, 2013

Soldera revokes his irrevocable resignation, Parker drops his lawsuit against Galloni and the Hosemaster has an apoplectic accident

Wow – what a week it's been in the wine world!

I have to say, I never saw any of these coming – this has been a watershed week in the world of wine for resolution and retroverse reconciliation and inarticulate anomalies. Let’s dig in.