Sunday, May 09, 2021

What Italian winemakers can imbibe from their Swiss watchmaking cousins

Thursday, May 06, 2021

By the Bottle: #1 - Ole Udsen - a new series about winelovers and their tastes (and loves) in wine.

Wine lovers on wine and the vinous life.

I’m starting a new series, By the Bottle. It mimics the By the Book feature in the Sunday NY Times Book Review, which asks a series of questions to authors about books. This time, we’ve turned the tables on wine lovers, winemakers, and all kinds of folks in the world of wine. It’s all for fun, with the hopeful expectation that we might gain insights into friends and colleagues in a lighthearted and easygoing way. Expect more, not consistently, but from time to time. Usually on Thursdays.

Kicking this off with Ole Udsen, a wine merchant, wine writer, senior oil industry negotiator and commercial innovator. Ole is a dear friend who lives in Vedbæk, a community on the coast 20 km. north of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ole is one of the most learned people I have ever met in regards to Italian wine, and southern Italian wine in particular. He has an ecumenical thirst for knowledge for wines from all over the world and is one of the most open-minded people I have ever met. But he is no pushover; which is probably why we get along so well. Thanks for launching the ship, Ole! See you at dinner.

What wines do you have standing up right now?

Many. Some Albillo and Garnacha from Sierra de Gredos, a 2011 Hunter Valley Sémillon, a 2007 Pfalz Spätburgunder, and about 10-15 others.

What’s the last great wine you drank?

Barolo Prapò 1996, Az. Agr. Bricco Rocche / Ceretto.

Describe your ideal drinking experience (when, where, what, how).

I don’t have any. Great drinking experiences come in many guises.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

What is wine worth to you?

Now that many of us are getting back up, not quite running yet, but moving forward, some are looking at the value of things. Keeping in mind that health and sanity are paramount above all material objects, the idea of a wine's merit is something that is as varied as our genetic makeup. I cannot speak for all, but I will lay out what I think it means if asked to me - What is wine worth to you?

Sunday, April 25, 2021

The Deciders vs. the Influencers – A saga for espousing wine in the new era

There are voices out there, in the ether of the internet, who are pushing the idea of the demise of the old guard. “The decider class is dying,” they clamor, hurling salvos about the decrepitude of the voices that have guided many folks into the world of wine. “It’s all over now, the blue bloods no longer tell us which red wines we should buy, with their 100-point scales and bloviated tasting notes. It does nothing for me, tells me nothing about my experience, my relationship with the wine I choose.” It’s risen to more than a gentle ferment. The young lions want the silverbacks to “get the blazes out of our world.”  Is the age of the authority done with? Or is the new blood punching the upper crusts out of the way, hustling out the Decider Class and ferrying in the Influencer Squad? Is it really a new age, or is this merely a successive approximation, dolled up to look hip and dope?

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The wonderfully complicated and all too brief (and happy) life of Pio Boffa

A fond remembrance

There are moments in life when a particular event happens, that sends ripples across the water.  Such was the moment yesterday when I heard about the passing of a friend in Italy, Pio Boffa. Pio was just 66 years old, and another victim of the relentless Covid19 virus.

How does this happen, a little over a month after another friend, Barone Alessandro de Renzis Sonnino, passed away at the age of 62, also from Covid?

Right now, Michigan and New York states are posting higher daily new cases than Italy, with half the population. Italy has imposed greater restrictions than those states, but the grim reaper is still harvesting souls in the motherland.  

Unfortunately, Pio’s life was one of those. And what a wonderfully complicated and all too brief life it was.

But what a time to be alive and in the business of Italian wine!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Are you still here? [And when in hell are you gonna get off our grass?]

Looking through my wine closet I came upon a couple of bottles I’d forgotten. And probably for good reason. They’re old. They’re white. And when they were first released, they were, let’s say, a little over weighted in the testosterone department. In other words, as the #NewGen's say, boomer wine.

One was a California (Napa Valley) Sauvignon Blanc, the other was a French (Burgundy) Corton Charlemagne. Both from the 1980’s. They’d both achieved a dark, golden, sunset-y color.

I have a place, high in my wine closet, which I call the bardo-balcony. It’s where I put old wines that have given up the ghost. But the labels might be pretty, or the wines might have a special meaning for me. Or a memory. So, I can’t quite throw them in the recycle bin. I’ll let those who come to clean up, after I’ve given up the ghost, deal with it (hopefully not for a while).

But it reminds me that every living thing on earth has a cycle. And wine, like people, can live for ages. Or it can leave a little earlier than the rest of us.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Old Cheese Man Wine

ately, during this extraordinary era, I’ve been digging into ye olde wine cellar and pulling out crusty specimens that have arrived to an old age. It was a dream of youth, to have access to older, aged, mature wines. We’d read about it in Michael Broadbent’s book. A wine that needs 20-30 years to arrive at its peak. And now, I have scores of those bottles. And to magnify the situation, an even older friend of mine bequeathed me even more ancient bottles. A dream come true, ce n'est pas?

However, all the glitters isn’t the golden light off the cobwebs of these fossils. Here’s what I’ve been finding lately.

They are all starting to smell like old cheese man wine.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Tale of Two Tastings

Options for tasting wine in the last year have been somewhat curtailed by the events that we’ve all encountered. In-person tastings have not resumed, trade shows have been put on hold, and even larger get-togethers are on hiatus for now. So how does one keep their palate sharp in times like these?

I’ve found two ways to help one through these sparse times. This is how I’ve fashioned a survival strategy, of sorts, to get through these dark days.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Where we've become - And where do we go from here?

his is going to be a mish mash of stuff, as we’re kind of in the doldrums of wine blogging. Also, I have a few things I need to do to clear off my desk. So, here goes.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

10 of my favorite off-the-beaten-path places to eat in Italy

From the archives: Most of us cannot jump on a plane and go to Italy, and those in Italy might not have the mobility in 2021 that we had a year or two ago, especially now, as Italy has imposed a nationwide lock down. But we can always dream about the days to come, eh?


In preparation for an interview, I was looking up places I have really enjoyed eating in Italy. Many of these places don’t even have a website, or a sign. I was lucky enough to be taken there be locals. They represent some of the best eating and drinking I have experienced in Italy. And while most of them are not fancy places, the cooking in these spots have been some of the most memorable meals in a restaurant setting. I eat a lot around the farm table and am lucky to have home cooked meals. They’re great. But if you’re looking to go to Italy that won’t help you. These following 10 spots are open for anyone. It helps to speak Italian, for sure. But it’s Italy; anyone with a little passion can communicate to most Italians.

Note: don’t go looking for spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, lasagna or grilled chicken breasts. Expect the unexpected. Donkey ragù, tiny snails, entrails, tiny piquant sausages in a fiery broth, raw things from the sea (not just fish) and that’s just for starters. You should be adventurous. And not be looking for the best hits from Italy. This is how Italians eat. I love it. If you are lucky enough to find these places, you might find you will too.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Barone Alessandro de Renzis Sonnino – “There was nobody in the world like him.”

hose were the words a close friend of his (and mine) said as he wept into his phone, recounting so many wonderful stories and such a rich history their friendship represented.  Barone Alessandro de Renzis Sonnino passed away last week, another victim of this fierce virus that has been ravaging the planet for over a year now. But his life was one which we should celebrate, not climb into the rabbit hole of despair. Suffice to say, he will be missed, sorely missed. But the life he lived, one for the storybooks now, was singular, unique, a bit naughty, and from a time that is rapidly disappearing, if it hasn’t already vanished in this new millennium, this new century. He was a big tree, a little twisted (he would say "A little? A lot!”), but a big tree nonetheless.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

The Dramas of Life

From the archives - Sunday, April 06, 2014 

This week in Italy, Barone Alessandro de Renzis Sonnino was taken from us by Covid-19. He will be sorely missed - he was "One of a kind."

Here in Italy, as in everywhere on Spaceship Earth, there are the daily dramas. We all have them. For each and every one of us, our personal dramas are often of utmost importance. After all we are the center of our universe. Our life is most important to us. Multiply that by 7,000,000,000 in this moment and probably another 7,000,000,000+ in time. A caveman searching for food for his tribe. An explorer discovering a new route to the Pacific Coast. A winemaker finding a better way to make Sangiovese in Tuscany. Nothing is missed. We are like ants, covering every minute detail of our lives as if the universe wasn’t the large expanse beyond which we could never imagine. And it is probably correct to think often in that way, for to veer into the abyss would surely lead to madness, or worse.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Wanted: Wine Tastemakers – Older White Men Need Not Apply?

Feb. 29, 2040

Dear Salem Morgon,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the position we posted. We are currently screening the next level candidate for our wine tastemaker stint and you have made the cut. Congratulations!

As you know, we are currently recruiting candidates to form a dynamic new team for ViniVer§Ω as THE preeminent and never-before-seen #WineInfluencer Neoteric Eno-zine. The next step for us, with you, is to further ascertain if you will be a good fit, on our soon-to-be award-winning squad!

So, let’s get down to it, por qué no?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Do you know what it means?

ew Orleans has been on my mind lately. Maybe because last week should have been Mardi Gras. Or perhaps I am just missing a place I got to know well. And it got to know me too. I love that place. It was my American Palermo, and if I had to, I could always fly there in an hour or take the longer scenic drive.

I’ll just admit it, I miss New Orleans. But also, Louisiana. Real bad. It was the only place in America I’d take my passport with me when I went. Well, that was more for practical purposes, as I once learned in Alexandria. I got a moving violation and the local gendarme took my license until I settled the whole affair (guilty until innocent in Louisiana – Napoleonic law). My friend further down by Lafayette excoriated me for paying the fine right then and there when I got it. “My friend, we have judge friends, you didn’t need to do that.” Lesson learned. But I took my passport with me, anyway, when I flew, just in case. I wanted to be able to get back home if it happened again.

And it was like a foreign country to me. Not like the rest of America, all 44+ states I’ve seen anyway. It was old. And slower paced. Like Italy. Wine and food were appreciated and understood in Louisiana, in ways I never saw in my travels for work or play, with the possible exception of Napa Valley.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

My Funny Valentine

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