Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Wine Week, So Far (looking for a wine of the week)

It’s just been three days this week so far but it feels like a week or more. Evening events, tastings, wine dinners every night this week so far (with more to come) along with full day’s work, working lunches even. And then there are the deals.

Two truffle wine dinners this week. I am all truffled out. Some lovely Nebbiolos though. The Produttori Barbaresco 2005 is gorgeous. I still can’t believe when Etienne de Montille was at the house recently, he was jonesing for Nebbiolo. Too much great Pinot Noir can be too much of a good thing? I reckon.

Before I head back to Austin tomorrow and before I go to bed tonight, I laid out 60 or so bottles of wine for the Becky, the wine of the week writer to try. “Can you be here at 9:00AM?” I asked her. So in a few hours after a little sleep and a caffe latte or two, we’ll get started.

I’ve written about this before, but every time it is different. Earlier in the week I took a stroll around the warehouse and looked over thousands of different wines, all crisp and cool and waiting to be adopted. I pulled out the wee gee board and chose wines from Italy, France Spain, South America, South Africa, New York and Texas. Very few of them looked familiar to me, but that isn’t the issue. We’re looking for sleepers, values and out of the choices, a gem or two. I had to laugh the other day when my friend Tom Wark was lambasting the three-tier system and claiming “What truly gives consumers in any market real choice and selection is direct shipment rights by out-of-state wineries and retailers.” Dear Tom, you certainly haven’t walked a mile in my shoes. That’s plainly inaccurate. Now whether we (or direct shippers) can sell all the wines we have at our disposal is another matter. And while I’m at it, how about this one?

An importer friend calls me and tells me a retailer has this wine that looks like it came from his import company and the customer wants to return it. My friend asks the retailer to send him a picture of the wine, front label and back, so he can determine the provenance of the wine. It turns out the wine had another importers strip label on it (grey market) and the wine had been heat damaged (possibly by shipping in warmer months). My friend mailed the retailer back and suggested they tell the customer to try and return it from where they bought it. It’s a hassle, boxing it up and shipping it back to California or New Jersey, if the retailer would even take it back. Bottom line, there still is a place for people to people business and as long as those of us in the wine business (via the traditional platform or the ones in the future) remember who the most important person is – that would be the wine end-user.

Sausage Paul was bubbly today. I went over to the shop to make sure his Tuscan wine sale was rockin’. And he proceeded to take me to the back room and show me all the great Sicilian pastries that just showed up, along with a bunch of wonderful dried pastas from Campania. Add to that the Pandoro and Panettones that arrived and the place has the Holiday feel. The only thing missing was a war bride from Calabria for Joey the Weasel. Sausage Paul was waiting around for him. Brothers in arms, they are.

As I stepped outside to go to my wine dinner, flying winemaker Chris Ringland was pulling up to go to dinner at a local spot, a BYOB place. He was in town to showcase his holiday sparkler, Bitch Bubbly. Chris, up since 4:00AM wasn’t too effervescent at that point. I’m sure the bottle of ’82 Mouton he sampled revived him a bit.

And yes, I am again officially rambling. But hey, it’s just a little blog by an obscure Italian wine guy in flyover country, what do you expect, Nossiter or Grahm?

A big shout out to Tom Maresca for jumping into the bloggy-blog world. Matt Kramer where you at, brother? Come on in, jump, Matt, jump. It won’t kill you. It hasn't killed Charles Scicolone. Yet.

So, bona notte y’all; con calma e gesso.


Tracie P. said...

pick a winner! have a safe drive south :)

Mattie John Bamman said...

I have a hard time pairing truffles with wine. I usually find the truffle does its own thing, often putting the wine in the backseat. However, I haven't tried pairing truffle with Nebbiolo--since they come from the same place it seems ridiculously obvious.

And truffled out? What a strange, beautiful concept...

Thanks for the post.

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