Sunday, May 24, 2020

Under the Influence...

#1,500
We’ve all had lots of time to think. I’ve written a dozen dystopian blog posts in my head. And I’ve pondered over Italy and what it means to me and others. And still, I can’t help thinking, how have these past three months influenced what Italy means to me, going forward?

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The top 10 destinations for Italian wine exports in 2019? Once again, China wasn’t one of them. In 2020, Quo Vadis?

Young Italian wine professionals had been posing wistful pictures on their Instagram and Facebook feeds, when travel destinations such as China, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and Singapore were de rigueur for building their Italian wine business. From first blush, one would think there’s a lot of business for Italian wine in Asia. I’m looking at the numbers from 2019 and prognosticating upon what the possibilities for growth in 2020 are.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

When darkness falls on the island

“It can’t always be sunny, even in Texas!” I remember hearing momma shouting out to me, many times. She would know, having been born a few years before the 1918 Pandemic, and living the early years of her childhood, in Texas, in an orphanage, because her father had abandoned her mother and five children, one a baby boy.

Nonetheless, my mom was extremely resilient all through her almost 102 years on this earth. I often wonder how she’d deal with this “where we’re at right now” moment. It would be her very own take on things, and no doubt, she’d survive.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Life on the Island - The World As It Is

For Marco Moltinomi

Lately, I’ve been watching Italian movies by Cristina Comincini, notably “Follow Your Heart” and “Latin Lover.” We’re back in an Italy that once was, the scenery, the subjects, the people sitting together at a table, eating, drinking and talking, sometimes arguing, crying and laughing. It’s a scene many of us have witnessed or experienced numerous times, all around the world. And for the time, that world has stopped.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Life on the Island – When This is Over – Promises to Keep

Palermo - Isola delle Femmine
If there is a theme to what has been scrolling past my screen lately, it is that there are many of us who want to do it a little differently when this wave passes. And while there are as many hopeful iterations for the future as there are of us, my thoughts today are with the hopeful and affirmative ones who understand that resilience is an unbounding strength, not only in these times.

So, how will things be different, when this is over? What does your crystal ball reveal to you? Here are some of the musings I’ve gathered.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Life on the Island - À grands maux, grands remèdes

Every time I start to write something down for a blog post, I stutter. Who cares what we’re drinking or who we’re drinking it with? Or if we’re alone or with another? Or if it matches with the food we’re having? Or if the wine was made by someone who is suffering from this virus, or maybe even died from it? That level of omphaloskepsis in times like this seems a bit inane. It may be your life, what you do. Wine. But in the meantime, there’s been a seismic shift on earth.

So, I’ve come up with my plan, here on the island where I am marooned for the time being. These are my remedies in this era of the great ailment.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Life on the Island - Love, Sex & Death in Sicily

From the archives
Una Favola
Mozia 

Quali volti nell’aria?
Pirati o mercanti, maghi o scienziati
con formule e amuleti scendono sulla riva?
Quale incantesimo ferma a Mozia
il fluire del tempo?
Forse un vento del Libano
senza memoria ridesta visioni
di un sogno d’Oriente.

Nel Tofet bruciano incenso e timo.
Tanit splende con vesti di porpora
e seni di lino.
Caste fanciulle danzano sulle brezze del mare.
Pan ha sepolto il passato con vigne, alberi e capre.
Nelle luci, nelle ombre tra vasi, anfore e steli
riaffiorano sempre canti orientali.

Oh tu,
feniceo o plebeo, che adagi i tuoi passi
nella piccola isola sospesa e sognante
in remoti millenni,
volgi il pensiero a Colei, fanciulla,
che forse bruciò per te in sacrificio a Tanit.
- Vittorio Cimiotta

“Don’t go to Mozia looking for answers,” my Sicilian friend advised, “You’ll only find more questions. But by all means, go.” Those were her parting comments to me as we hugged goodbye. It would be a world far from the hazy blur of Vinitaly. But it was a must see.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Life on the Island - The Resurrection of Italian Wine

From the archives
It is truly a miracle to consider what we humans do to the land and the resilience that land exhibits. We pour chemicals on it, stir them up and grind them in. Then we put more poisons on the plants that grew up from that chemical baptism. When the leaves send their shoots and the flowers send their fruits, we then trim them, shave them and cast them to the ground.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Life on the Island - Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Perilous Sea of 2020

Photograph © by Michael Housewright
It wasn’t that long ago. It was 1987. And then it was 2001. And then, 2016. But each sojourn left its mark. And along with it, beauty, solace, pain, joy and relief. Longing for a world, which is momentary, to allow one to linger just for a few more moments. Is that too much to ask?

Fortunately, our memories have pictures to help us through the dark, lonely nights. Waking up in a cold sweat, wondering if the shadow on the sliding glass door is the caller, calling me to another realm. But it passes with the rising sun.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Life on the Island - in 2020

In writing this post, I want to be mindful of the pain and suffering any of us might be having or will be having in the future. So as not to trivialize the bigger phenomenon we are all collectively experiencing, I will attempt to keep what it is we are involved with in our lives and our careers in the wine trade in perspective to larger events shaping our world.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Life on the Island - A Personal Punch-List for the Quarantined

With all respect...
Right about now, 60 million Italians are most likely climbing the walls, with the Spaniards and the French lining up to do the same. Warm blooded Latins, emotional and often uber-extroverted (well, maybe the Italians and the Spaniards). With a lot of extra time on their hands, what can I offer them, from the perspective of one who about two years ago stopped my world and got off?

I got to thinking what would be a healthy and affirmative blog post in which my brothers and sisters in the wine biz in Europe could be doing right now to get through their time of isolation. So, let’s dig in.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Should you go to Italy right now?

Yesterday I had the idea to poll friends and colleagues in the wine trade, around the world, with the question, “Should I go/come to Italy right now?” I received a dozen or so responses, all across the board. But within hours, their answers were rendered moot. Later that afternoon, Italy announced they were quarantining 16 million people on the north and restricting travel to and from the designated areas.

So, I put on my creative thinkers’ hat and pondered “What kind of response would be appropriate, considering the circumstances and lightning fast speed this outbreak has been traveling at?”

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Intervista nel Futuro

#TBT - from the archives


From the 23rd Century, near a place in Tuscaremma, called Montalcinapaia.

Q. Montalcinapaia has changed, so it seems. What is the most important change, in your opinion, in wine in the last 200 years?
A. For one, we are a dry area, very arid now. Ever since the Wind War of 2059-69, this area has relied more on natural species for their survival skills than for their elegance. But we have found out that if we work in this minimal environment, we can coax a lot out of the soil.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Italian Wine and Love - At this Point in Time

Breaking: Vinitaly is postponed until June.

“It was inevitable,” so the introduction goes. Here I am, on an early Sunday morning, the wind outside is howling, pushing leaves, swaying branches, and offering an eerie air to the day. What will we hear today? We’re, all of us, on this giant cruise ship, earth, is there nowhere to go, nowhere to hide?

That’s the status, for now, here in flyover country, where everyone hopes it will fly over us. But we’re also in the global Petri dish, adapting a wait-and-see attitude. Meanwhile over in Italy…
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