Sunday, May 28, 2023

And the wind, it cries Mary [Redux]

After all the jacks are in their boxes
And the clowns have all gone to bed
You can hear happiness staggering on down the street
Footprints dressed in red
And the wind whispers Mary
I woke up from a dream last night. My wife Lizanne, who passed away in 2001, appeared. She was no longer sick, but she was delicate. She only appeared for a moment, and in her way she kindly tapped me on the shoulder. Remember. Outside the wind was blowing.

We all run around making busy lives for ourselves to fill them up with meaning. We are like the little goti glass of Venice, made from left over scraps of glass, all different. All fragile. But still we step outside in the wind, and we run. And run. Competing in a race we will never win. But still, we run.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

A faux pas (from the past) in New York and a stunning Sauvignon Blanc (from the present) by way of Friuli

An old colleague of mine texted recently and told me about the death of a French wine producer we knew. We had gotten to know him over the years when he came to Texas to work. We sold his products. We even had a men’s tasting group based loosely on one of the top wines of the estate. A nice group, including the national sales manager for the estate.

A few years ago, in NY for the Wine Spectator Experience, my friend told me to join him for the dinner at a nearby restaurant with said Frenchman. I said I had not been invited. He said, “Hey, we’re friends of his. We all formed a tasting group around one of his greatest wines, ‘The Friends of Chuck!’” So, I went with him.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Peddling Prosecco on Skid Row – An Anamnesis

My last paying gig in the wine trade was as a national ambassador for a venerable maker of Prosecco. One of the days I was out, working the market, in Los Angeles, near where I was born. Los Angeles is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to Angelinos it holds a special place in one’s heart. So, to go back home and be thrust out into the streets, with a bag full of wine and a day full of appointments, was a memorable occurrence.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Chef Alessio Franceschetti - Bacchus Recalls One of its Stewards, Back to the Great Vineyard

Happy Days - Alessio in the kitchen at
Jimmy's with Valeria Losi of Querciavalle

Sad news here, Alessio Franceschetti passed away this week. Alessio was a restaurateur in Dallas, Texas. Our lives were intertwined because of wine. Alessio made significant contributions to the furtherance of greatness of Italian food and wine, in Dallas (and America) in the 20th century and beyond. He will be sorely missed. This is his story.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Italy is Ready For You – Are You Ready for Italy?

Recently I returned to Italy, after an absence of four years – for me, the longest interlude in a generation. It couldn’t be helped. There was Covid, of course, which altered everyone’s life on the planet. But there were subtle factors; health, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the economic turbulence in the world. And the reality that Italy was hit hard by the pandemic and I wanted to give it enough time for them to recover and be ready for visitors.

Well, they’re ready for you – but are you ready for Italy?

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Gone Fishin'

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Sunday Funnies: Dale De-Spoofilates *

There is a hint here, regarding future comings and goings. Needless to say, I dont have a lot of time to post right now, or for the next few weeks. So, for now, I leave you with this archived funny. See you in the future with loads of new tales. Happy Easter!

* De-Spoofilate : After five days at Vinitaly, to purge the tannins of the Super Tuscans and the awesomeness of the Amphoristi, by taking time in Venice, for a personal makeover. 

© by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Three Hopeful Nudges for the Italian Wine World

With the Italian wine world convening in Verona for another Vinitaly (the 55th), and as people shake off the last three years of a pandemic which isolated all of us, what will prevent the wine world from falling back into the old habits and ruts of the past?

Our brainstorming crew has come up with three possible nudges to avoid settling back into past patterns and comforts, seeing as the world has fundamentally changed. In essence, there is no going back. But there will be people who will insist on the tried and true, although tired and timeworn it is, in reality. But let them eat cake, or vitello tonnato, or whatever it is that gives them comfort and solace. As for those who wish to embrace the present and the future, here are the team’s suggestions.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

The Four Pillars of Italian Wine

Italian wine is a diverse sea of flavors, colors, buoyancies, styles and price points. There are thousands of grapes, and as many or more wines to go along with it. But what drives the business? What grows the market share? And what keeps the lights on?

It falls to four wines, all with relatively humble beginnings. The four wines encompass four different types of wines – white, red , sparkling and sweet. And although they may not be on the tip of the tongues of today’s tony sommeliers, they provide needed cover for the more esoteric and trendy wines currently being touted by the in-crowd and influencer-wannabes.Too often we chase the trends and forget what brought us here.

Caution advisory: These are not considered cool wines by the high toned up-and-comers. Those dashers consider them boring, dull, run of the mill, yawn, give-me-a-break, get-away-from-me type of wines. They are misinformed.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Words We Use for the Truths We Seek

Lately I’ve been pondering the words we choose, when writing and talking about wine. Notably, I have seen a burgeoning use of words like curated, gifted, humbled, blessed, privileged, literally and journey. And let’s not forget “my bad.” Along with that, we’re seeing more first-person representations. In other words, there’s a lot more of me and a lot less of thee.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

An Italian wine lover's incessant love affair with (lithe and sexy) Trebbiano

Recently, the Italian wine producers have been hitting the road. Tre Bicchieri and Slow Wine road shows, along with an agglomeration of small producers, importers, p.r. firms and producer consortiums, have been traversing the globe, once again. Even with our pandemic hangover still lingering in mind, if not in deed, the world must not stand still. And so, I ventured to a local tasting of the Slow Wine Tour, here in my home base of Dallas, Texas.

The day would be crowded with other obligatory duties. My son was scheduled to get an elective procedure (snip, snip) and he needed me to drive him to and fro, which constituted crossing several urban centers in our metroplex, a round trip of about 100 miles. In addition to that, the weather was dotty. Rain was in the forecast, and in Texas, in March, that could mean anything from a light downpour to an F5 tornado.

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Two white Sicilian wines that are worth seeking out

With all the hubbub over local grapes these days, one can easily go down the rabbit hole in the Italian wine journey. Even once considered mundane and common grapes are getting restyled as unique wines. Sicily, historically a bastion of quantitatively produced wines, is where we land today. And Grillo is the grape, appropriate for the rabbit hole as the grape is loved and sought after by the local rabbits. On one island, Mozia, the sole producer there had to suspend production of their wine, as the furry little mammals nearly decimated the vines due to their insatiable hunger (and thirst?) for the grape.

Fortunately, Sicily has many more vineyards where the grape thrives.

But today we’re looking for quality, not quantity.

Which leads me to my latest venture, which will be a bit more pedestrian than my usual naval gazing expeditions into Italy and Italian wine.

Two such bottles came to my attention recently, as they were sent to me by a firm trying to get the word out on the renaissance that Grillo is witnessing. These two wines, by no means, are the only word on such revolution. But they happened to land on my front doorstep. So, I thought to pop the corks and drive them around the kitchen for a few days, getting to know them better, tasting them, drinking them, trying them with several kinds of foods, and hoping to find something to like.

I did!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

If buying wine were like buying an airplane ticket

Over the past week or so, I’ve been ensnared in the rabbit hole known as buying an airplane ticket. It has been awhile since I last flew, not like when I was working and on the road constantly. Then it was just something I had to do, suffer through it, get the ticket, the car, the hotel, and move through my week. Rinse and repeat. Now I travel if I want to, not because I have to. It changes the dynamic somewhat. The sense of urgency isn’t there. And the need to be somewhere, at some time, exactly, just isn’t as pressing.

But I do have somewhere to be, and for that I need to catch a flight.

While I was going through this exercise, I imagined if every time we wanted a bottle of wine, what it would feel like to have to jump through the hoops one must jump through when arranging a flight.

Let’s take a bottle of red wine from Tuscany, for example. And let’s say I am buying it online directly from the producer.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Dino Illuminati – Once in a Lifetime

A little boy, nine years old, raised by his grandfather after losing his mother at a young age, is walking along the Tronto river, picking up reeds and brushing them against the other reeds, bushes, the stream, anything. It’s a normal day in June of 1940. Except it isn’t. It’s the day Italy enters into World War II, allied with Germany. For the young boy, Dino Illuminati, it would be another in a series of transformative events in his life, one which would see Italy changing like it had never changed in all of its history. And little did he know that he would be a history maker in his own right.

Dino grew into a young man and became a produce merchant. He was known for his broccoli, dubbed the “King of broccoli” when he was in the zenith of that stage of his life. He was one of the first in his region to plant kiwi. And his region, which straddled Marche and Abruzzo, took to kiwi as did all of Italy. Dino did well.

But he didn’t always fare so well. He knew hunger. And loneliness. And tragedy. But he was resilient. And just a little bit stubborn. Dino wanted more than to be the king of broccoli or a kiwi pioneer.

So, he took to his roots – grapevines.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Perfect Italian

From the archives...
I was sitting at the bar of a restaurant, don’t remember where. It could have been Columbus, Ohio or St. Louis, Missouri. Or Yountville, California. I travel alone most of the time, so often I sit at the bar of a restaurant and order from the food menu. It’s kind of like work, in that I see what is going out to the folks, libations and wine, and get an idea of where I am at.

This time another solitary traveler sat nearby. She started up a conversation, found out I was in the wine business. When I told her my area of concentration was Italy, she perked up. “Oh, I love Italians, the wine, the countryside, the men; it's all so gorgeous.” She was younger than me; I don't think she was coming on to me. Or at least I wasn’t picking up that vibe. No, she was just talkative and I am a good listener. So I listened.
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