Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Texsom 2008 ~ Session Notes

There never seems to be enough time for it all. Put a handful of master-somms and an ersatz Italian together and give them 90 minutes to talk about 8 wines? Not enough time for disambiguation. No time for the bang, not even for a whimper. Press on, press on.

There is something exhilarating about being in a room with a set of high energy wine gurus. Rising tide kind of thing. We had two sessions on Italian wines, Italy being a darling of the mutant set of somms currently working their way around the airports and boardrooms of the halls of power in the wine biz. Make no mistake about it folks, the big boys in the industry know what is at stake and they have lined up some of the best and the brightest to sell the message down to the platoon level.

In our sessions, day one (Northern and Central Italy) we had:
Moderator: Brian Cronin MS

Laura DePasquale MS
Brett Zimmerman MS
Larry O'Brien MS
Joe Spellman MS
Alfonso Cevola CSW

Day two (Southern Italy and the islands) we had:
Moderator David Glancy MS

Laura DePasquale MS
Reggie Narito MS
Larry O'Brien MS
Brett Zimmerman MS
Alfonso Cevola CSW

I would love to accompany a couple of these folks on a wine blast through Italy, or anywhere for that matter. Guys like Larry O’ Brian (above) always seem to be working through the wine, constant students of the grape. Brett Zimmerman, working for a small importer, his path on the Italian wine trail, treading and tasting, working his way up that insurmountable mountain we call Italy. How about that new salesperson in the audience looking at this and wondering how they’ll be able to get to base camp? I’m telling you, sons and daughters, we’re all trying to get to base camp. And on to the ascent.

Teaser: The article in the latest Sommelier Journal from my last trip to Piemonte just a little avvinare (taste). Subscribe and support David Vogels valiant effort to bring intelligent writing about wine to the young sommeliers and all the rest of us.

On one of our sessions, The Central Italy part, we had two wines from Tuscany. I hadn’t realized it until I tasted the wines but there was some thread of similarity, even though the two wines were as different as concrete and balsa wood. The wines, Castello dei Rampolla’s Chianti Classico 2004 and the Argiano Solengo 2004, both had the imprimatur of Giacomo Tachis, albeit from a now historical whisper. Time, time, bang, bang, whimper, whimper.

The Rampolla spoke to me in a simple, pure and direct way. The spirit of the place, Panzano, was erect and present. Wild horses tied to a wagon heading towards a sunset on the coast, in no particular hurry. Gorgeous, golden, wild, velvet, young-first-love-Michele-in-1965. Holy mother of God, how did they do this?

The Argiano, with those gypsy grapes of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah (aren’t these the grapes that could get a winemaker in trouble in Montalcino?), preening and prancing about the glass. “Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain.” I’m at a loess for words. I don’t want to like this wine, want to prefer the Sangiovese in purezza. But the two wines have this astral thread that connects them. Is it the Dali Lama of Italy, Tachis, from his cave in Sardegna, sending out his influence over the waves, out-Milarepa-ing Milarepa?

Soil, servitude and the fortune of territoriality. Two wines, two apparently different styles. Our house is a very fine house, with two cats in the yard. Dottore Tachis, now everything is easy ‘cause of you.

And this is the way the week ends. Not with a bang, but a conga line.

Photos courtesy of Texas Sommelier Conference 2008


Marco said...

Like the shirt and moves!

Unknown said...

CSW can stand for a Certified Specialist of Wine, a Clinical Social Worker or a Commercial Sex Worker.

Based on your past musings and pics, I am at a total loss as to which field you are proudly posting behind your name!

Marco said...

BK, my significant spouse thought that Alfonso was a Certified Social Worker. While with NY State Silly Service, she encountered many, but none as strange as AC with the stained purple teeth;>)

Anonymous said...

What a Blast
The Italian seminar went over time, but was worrth the extra minutes
Cool shirt. Does it come in XXL......Guido

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