Showing posts with label Seersucker Sagas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seersucker Sagas. Show all posts

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Seersucker Sunday

Sometimes things seem more seductive than they really are. Two out of the last three weekends I have been in Northern California for conferences. Right before the Bloggers conference ( I could not take the time to go) in Napa I spent three marvelous days learning about information, networking and meeting old and new friends at the WITS conference. The past few days I have been in Sacramento for the Society of Wine Educators conference, met Jancis Robinson, did my seminar on the Italian influence in California winemaking, bought a Flip video camera and drank a lot of great wines with some fantastic people. Great life, good career, flying around, uh huh. But today, back home, I got up early and headed to work.

Mission: Reset a wine shop.

I was rested and ready. The store was closed, so no distractions. What is a guy like me doing on a Sunday resetting a wine section, when everyone else is at church in their Sunday best? Well, it’s not just any store. It’s one of the best Italian wine stores I have seen in all of the Southwest. Italian wine only. From all regions. Even Valle d’Aosta. And it is closed on Sunday so we could get a lot done in a little time. It is with a great deal of respect for the wines ( and the wine god) that my colleague and I set about making sense of the set.

You know I can be a big picture guy, but sometimes you have to zoom in on the macro and get down to the root. The floor. And that is where I was, on my knees, in my seersucker shirt, trying to get all the wines in their proper places.

A word about the average salesperson. The average salesperson is just that, average. They come in a store, try to find something that's out of stock that they can get an order for. So they bury a case or two in the cold box. Maybe there’s a case of Barbera that has been sitting in the corner for a few weeks. It isn't hurting anything, and there’s no more room for another wine in the Piedmont section. And there it stays. And stays. But the salesman gets his piddly little order and slinks out to find another victim. All the while the wines made by the hands of the Italian man and woman finds their last stop in a little store in the corner of America and there it sits, their life’s work, their heart and soul. And the soul of their ancestors. History kicked under a stack of Pinot Grigio and forgotten. All because some salesperson was too damn lazy to help find it a final home.

Our reset went slow. In fact we never quite got out of the white wine section. We kept finding 2003, 2004, 2005 white wines from Italy. And we aren’t talking Fiorano or Valentini or Gravner. These were Pinot Grigios from the Veneto, old (and very falso) Cortese wines, tired Rabosos with no more spritz in their frizzante. You get the idea? So our client and friend who, owns the store, now has a beautiful white wine section and a table of sale wines. There are some surprises in there, but the real shocker will be when those average salespeople walk in the store and see more space and try and fill it up with more of their lost soul wines, the ones they never tended in the first place. They’re like pimps, with no real concern or love for the wines they are schlepping around. Pity.

Sometimes a shelf set begins to look like an Escher drawing or an optical illusion. All these Italians standing on the deck of the ship waiting to dock so that can be taken to their very own spot in America. That’s what the wines in the Tuscan section scream to me when I walk by them. Chiantis and Super Tuscans, Morellinos and Vino Nobiles. Brunellos are bulging and declassified Brunellos are also peering over the edge wondering when anyone will take them in. They aren’t tired and they aren’t poor, but they sure are the huddled masses. Like our client said, “There will be more Sundays.”

Personally I am looking forward to that seersucker Sunday, my Fellini-esqe escapade, on the beach, where everything is young and fresh and willing, and there is another Sunday following it, not a Monday. Wouldn't it be loverly?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Seersucker, Foie Gras and Amarone

To celebrate the end of May, which was an hellacious month for the wine world, Paul and Annette DiCarlo graciously opened up their home in East Dallas for a Sunday afternoon of eating and drinking. Summer is bearing down upon us, a time which we find ourselves embroiled in heat and heated debate about almost anything. Tempers flare, lines are drawn in the sand, swords are sharpened, clocks are set. But not before one last meal. One last great meal.

Sausage Paul had called me. “You coming?” I reply, “Hi Paul. Yeah, I’m coming. What? Where?” I was dreading that I had forgotten a tasting or an appointment, so I was ready to bolt out the door, one week in advance. I happened to be in Way west Fort Worth, so I figured I’d show up late and make an appearance. “Next, week, the Amarone dinner. My house.” The line goes dead. My friend Paul, isn’t one for long good-byes.

But I was spared. It was in a week, so I had time to get back (and over) the meal I had just had, which was this larger-than-life chicken fried steak. You had to be there, it was one of those road-house food places that are rapidly disappearing in Texas and probably anywhere else.

One week, later, I have had time to prepare. Exercise, fasting, high colonic. Hey, you don’t go to Paul and Annette’s house and “pick” at eating. You feast. And in today’s time when everyone is trying so hard to be frugal and inauspicious, this would be a little over the top. It always is. Some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in town would be there, so this wouldn’t be a time to say no.

We get there in time for a round of sparkling rose wine from the Veneto, all the rage now that they have saturated the market with Prosecco. I brought a bottle of Gruner just to be a contrarian. I figured after I blasted it in the last post, and some of the somms were chiding me for hating on the Gruner. Actually I like Gruner. And Zweigelt. But that’s another post.

Anyway, we get to the house and Sharon Hage of York Street is heating up a skillet for the foie gras. We were eating those things like catechumens sucking up Necco® wafers. We were getting ready for the miracle of the wine, so why not?

Major Domo Adelmo was modeling his newly acquired seersucker shorts, which showed off his tanned and muscle-bound legs, gained from his early morning walks (stalks?) in the neighborhood. Adelmo is irreverent to anything that has been established as a custom. Wine in a wine glass? Why? When it is so much more fun to pour a rare Casa dei Bepi Amarone in a jelly glass? It was Sunday, these restaurant owners work, work, work all the time. Son of a gun never rests. Let him be.

The room was getting crowded what with the short ribs and the foie gras and the pasta course all heating up the kitchen, which is where everyone was congregating. The AC unit was on overload, set at 60. The room felt like 80+. Seersucker was a good idea, after all.

So after the foie gras apps and all the other salumi scattered around the room, we head straight into the pasta course, some funny looking maccherone with those wonderful baby tomatoes from the south. Simple and good food. Great with the Valpolicella lined up in pole position, waiting for their moment. Also waiting for those Amarones to chill down a little, nestled in the fridge with the dessert wine and the Dublin Dr. Pepper (after all, we are in Texas).

About the Amarones: Quintarelli '97 and '98, Dal Forno '01, Tedeschi '03, Masi '01, Viviani 'Casa dei Bepi' '01.

Good Lord!

We started with the Masi Mazzano 2001. What, do you want a tasting note?
It was a good start. Kind of that old memory of Amarone from 30 years ago when the wines made were rustic with a little stink. Not too ripe, the funk was in check. How can I say it? Attractive but not sexy.

The Tedeschi Amarone "Fabrisieria" ’03 was more like a Recioto than any of them. This reminded me of the wines I read about in the past about Amarone, really a time trip. I would have like o try this wine when it was winter and we were eating polenta and a big slab of meat. But it was good.

The 2001 Viviani “Casa dei Bepi” was among my faves. Maybe because the folks are familiar. But the wine had nice body, solid flavors, some elegance, the wood was subdued (thank God) and it complimented the food. Deelish.

The Dal Forno 2001. It reminded me of a Pontiac GTO that restaurateur Van Roberts once bought and had the engine stoked up to 600 horsepower. Lot’s o’ pony in that bottle. And definitely a show pony. And a high maintenance one at that. At $400 a pop, yeah it is. Thanks loads to Paul for ponying up and sharing it.

And the twin vintages of Quintarelli, the ’97 and ’98. Now that was the moment of meditation for me. Everybody loves the ’97, the fruit, the power, the big balls. I get it. Or rather, I don’t get it for me. It was all that and a bag of chips, but the wine of the night, for me, was the 1998 from Quintarelli.

There are far better places to compare and analyze the two vintages, 1997 and 1998. For me, having them both there, sitting and staring at me, was great. Wonderful. I just found the 1998 to have this restraint, you know like when a gorgeous woman comes in to the room and she so seductively doesn’t show you her body with the way she dresses but you nonetheless get stirred up? That was what the 1998 did to me. ‘Nuff said.

Ok, so this has been a bit of a mommy blog with seersucker and expensive wines thrown in. Not bragging. Celebrating. May was a tough, tough month for the wine business. We’re going to need more than a new set of tires to get ourselves dusted up and back on the wine trail, in Italy or Texas.

Pass the tiramisu, per favore.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Which Wine With Seersucker?

Yesterday when I got into the car, after a day of work, the temperature read 98°F. Today when I went into work everything seemed like it had all gone South, like I’d landed smack dab in a bowl of idiot soup. Some days, in this business, you don’t know if you’re a Seer or a Sucker. So, let’s celebrate our blissful ignorance on this Wednesday in May.

A few weeks ago I was walking around the Tompkins Square Park area in NY with a few friends and noticed one of them was wearing a seersucker blazer. We proceeded to taunt him (and to subsequently cyber-bully him), but there was a prophetic air to his apparel of choice. Now it is hotter than blazes and I gots to get me one of them seersucker blazers.

In the meantime, a little pre-summer exercise on wines that match with seersucker. Not just any seersucker, but special selections of seersucker, some designer, some just out-and-out ridiculous. But not every wine is for everyone, isn’t that right my dear friends in the Bowery?

Lyric header host for this heedless post is Steve Miller, a good ‘ol Dallas boy.

Puttin' her rouge on, Slippin' her shoes on, My baby's gettin' ready to dance
Speaking of blissful ignorance, the first is a light-hearted trio of Bubbly’s from Barefoot: a Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio and a White Zinfandel. Marks off for calling them Champagne (not a Growers one, I snarkfully presume). But major kudos for supporting a cause that is near and dear to me, the Pacific Coast chapter of the National MS Society. (And no, I am not talking about sommeliers here. Those who know me, know what I’m talking about).

Coming to you baby on a midnight train
It goes with alligator and polo; it walks the walk and talks the talk. The wine is light but it isn’t simple. It’s a Matrot Meursault with a Stelvin instead of a cork. So it says cool and groovy at the same time as it says refined and sophisticated. Great for hanging around Tompkins Square Park in a brown bag till all hours of the night while waiting for the bars to open up in the morning, so you can order a Harvey Wallbanger or Ramos Gin Fizz.

I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker
This begs to be Bio-dynamite from Berkeley, a home made garage wine from a former SDS activist in a seersucker suit. That would count out Kermit and Neal, but there’s got to be another Big Boy out there still in hiding. Actually, we found him west of the East Bay, hiding in the hills on the Ridge estate, where a Chardonnay can be found in small amounts. From their Santa Cruz Mountain vineyards, first planted to Chardonnay in the 1940’s. Our lyric host, Steve Miller said it best when he sang:
You're the cutest thing
That I ever did see
I really love your peaches
Want to shake your tree
Lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey all the time
Ooo-eee baby, I'll sure show you a good time

Ooe-ee Baby!

I’m a picker, I’m a grinner, I’m a lover and I’m a sinner
Like it cool and dry, but need something ripe and ready? A little tango teaser from Argentina might be the perfect match with this swatch of seersucker. We popped a bottle of Astica Torront├ęs the other night and it was my Johnny Walker Red son who said, “What is that? I like it!”
Great floral aromas, slightly moscato-like with shades of tropical gardenia. Sweet young thing, not too dry, very seer-sucker and slurp-worthy. We even found a pair of seersucker tango shoes to go with it.

Go on take the money and run
It woulda-shoulda been a Brunello, but now I’m betting on those new ’03 Toscana IGT’s. Can’t tell you who they’ll all be ‘till after June 10, but there’ll probably be a swarm of them. Or not. Might be better with a seersucker coppola hat, as shown. Helps to cover-up your eyes from all the bright lights putting the spotlight on the garbage in Naples that has found its way to the dumps in Tuscany?

Her lips are red, Her body is soft, She is a movin' volcano
That would be a red wine from Sicily, what else? From Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso: Nerello Mascalese with a little Nerello Cappuccio. With a little up tick in the activity on the slopes of Etna, and here we go lookin’ for some grass fed Baw’b que. Enough to turn a vegetarian into a flexatarian for a night. Livin’ in the USA.

Tired of the war and those industrial fools
You know what I’m talking about, maybe it’s that wealthy industrialist who made a gazillion bucks in the gas and oil industry who decided to chuck it all and set up shop in the Rutherford Bench? Now he’s planning on how to save the world from low-scoring unoaked wines. This calls for a seersucker selection from Rosenthal wines, n'est-ce pas? A Cassis Blanc from Domaine du Bagnol: Marsanne, Clairette and Ugni Blanc in a fruity aromatic cease fire from the madness of making the daily bread. I had this wine a few weeks ago, after a night of Gravner, and I can still taste, and remember this wine for its clarity and its joyful purity. Peace, y’all.

Abra-abra-cadabra, I want to reach out and grab ya
From Puglia a Fiano-Greco , Prima Mano. Reaches right out of the glass and grabs ya and doesn’t wrinkle the seersucker. Clear flavors, bright and not spoofed up. No smoke and mirrors, just a clean shake and a hangover-free morning.

Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah. Some call me the gangster of love
From the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a Sauvignon Blanc from Linden Vineyards. I like what the winemaker says, "Rather than having a wine defined by oak and alcohol, I prefer a wine that is defined by its ‘sap”. Less than 300 cases made, so you’re gonna hafta call yore relatives if’n you wants some.

Somebody give me a cheeseburger
All those hot dogs earlier in the month, during a field trip to Brooklyn, got me to thinking about a reddish wine to go with them. The closest I got was thinking about a wine from Kermit Lynch from Corte Gardoni, a Bardolino Chiaretto (Rosato). I can has hot dog? And free range and grass fed if I wants to? Yes I can. Just in time for the Seersucker Invitational Park Slope Bocce Ball Tournament.

Good night and “Gob-less”.

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