Thursday, August 30, 2012

My White Trash Italian Cousins

They are those little secret shames, lurking in our lives. Sometimes they are in our face. Sometimes they dwell in a state of hibernation. They never really go away, no matter how far one may move or if you change phone numbers to get away from them. They always seem to resurface, insinuating themselves into your life. We all have them, those white trash Italian cousins.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Where has everybody gone? They were here all month, the patter of feet above my hot particles, constantly, back and forth; running, dragging, shuffling, hopping. Now all I feel is the drone of the tractor with the rake attachment, straightening up my bumps and ruts, removing the little vagrant pieces of seaweed and candy wrappers. Is August over already?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Indulgence or Sustenance?

Americans can be so influenced by the oddest junctions between aspiration and sensibility. A retail friend was lamenting that this summer all of his big buyers, his “whales,” had disappeared. “They can go wherever they want for three months. They have the money to live anywhere and do their business from the clouds.” His business in the over-$100-a-bottle business was lagging. Meanwhile, I made him a sweet deal on a Morellino that tastes good and even has great press (91 from the Advocate’s Galloni). He can sell it for $10, half of the regular retail ($20) and make money, and he’ll offer a great product to folks who aren’t whales, maybe even people for whom wine actually sustains rather than indulging their egos.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Not Yet

A few months ago it started to get to me. 2012 has been a challenging year in many respects. But after five years and 900 blog posts, I've kept going. Maybe it’s all vanity. I cannot plunge into that pool. What I do know is this: I have met a whole new world of folk in these past five years, and I’m not sure I would have if I hadn’t bled these words and pictures onto this place, all these days, weeks and months. So I am not done. Not yet.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Young Rebel Creamy Soft Porn Wine Marketing = Uncontrollably Juicy Italian

From the "My Way or the (Appian) High Way" dept.

"calling all cornuti"
Just when you thought wine marketers couldn’t find any further contumely avenues, they hand you a lap dance in the middle of the Via Appia. In the current iteration Italy has been ravaged with an eno-anomalism, named “if you see kay.” Cute, eh? Yeah man, the first time I heard it when I was a teenager it really got my attention, way back in, say, ’69.

I thought someone was blowing sunshine and then I scratched a little online and found the potation. Drink in some of the scintillating copy (reproduced below, verbatim, with commentary, from the website), no doubt dreamt up by a marketer who seemed to be otherwise engrossed watching HBO's Taxicab Confessions.

From the website, a prinked procession to push the timeless palliative. Marketing, in the guise of Young Rebel Creamy Soft Porn:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ogni cosa è illuminata

It was like any other day. A little longer than most, perhaps. As I rose at 5:00 AM to drive 200 miles to work in Shreveport, I packed lightly and figured it would be a day filled with appointments into the evening, with the next day day to drive back slowly, no rush.

The drive to Shreveport was uneventful, save for an angry Texas pickup truck driver, somewhere around Marshall, who didn’t like that I was driving in the lane he wanted to come into from the ramp. I wasn’t passing and was in the right place. But he thought differently, waggled his middle finger as he roared around me in a flurry of smoke and rage. An apt farewell from Texas, I reckoned.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Teaching an old DOCG new tricks

Last week in San Francisco I presented a piece to a group at the Society of Wine Educators conference. Called Deconstructing DOCG, it was an effort to offer a path from the past to the present (and possibly leading to the future) regarding the changes that are coming to Italian wine laws as they assimilate into the greater European Union discipline.

Anyone who peruses the pages of On the Wine Trail in Italy know I have been a bit obsessed with noting the changes in Italian wine laws. Here is the text from the talk. It was accompanied by a loosely related PowerPoint presentation (by the way, I am not a fan of PowerPoint, except to offer visual markers that relate to something I am talking about). It was accompanied by a tasting of four of the five original DOCG's awarded back in the 1980's. In any case, the talk seemed to be a success (aided by lubrication from Brunello, Barolo and Co.) and I am including it. Here goes:

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Making the Connection

With all the stuff that is thrown at most of us on a daily basis, it seems to be getting harder to have those singular moments where the outside world isn’t always crashing in. Our digital diet has become super-sized, what with the access to information on the internet and all the daily doses of blogs, social media, email, and work that keeps us staring at these little screens. Our monkey brain is in control, churning out words and thoughts and desires and needs. Those darn needs.

Meanwhile our Italian counterparts, many of them, have unplugged and are at the beach. I envy them this time of the year, with long slow mornings, a leisurely caffe, a sun and a swim and then maybe a roll around town or the island. Then lunch and maybe a nap, followed by maybe another sun and swim working up the appetite for dinner. But dinner is hours away, no need to rush it. After all, it’s August, this is the time to log-off and recharge. Time to re-connect.

You don’t need an island or even a beach, although it is much easier and pleasurable. What one really needs is the ability to quiet the mind, stop the chatter and let the inessential crap float away.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Sanctuary for the Soul

Twelve years ago at this time, life was a living hell. The summer was unrelentingly hot; my wife’s disease was entering its final stages and the two major wineries I was representing were incontrovertibly out of touch with the market. There was little or no respite, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. No retreat, no sanctuary. The fury of hell, with heat, disease and ignorance. A perfect trifecta for misery.

Twelve years later, that hell is not as acute, but the days are not without their challenges. Still we are enduring triple digit temperatures. There are challenges in my family orbit regarding health issues, and my dear Italians are giving us a break for the time. It is after all, the beginning of August. So for the next month, we are unencumbered, free as a bird. As long as we don’t fly too close to the sun.

In a moment of diversion, I came upon a lovely photo project, “Into the Silence”, by the Sicilian, Carlo Bevilacqua. In some of the more remote corners of the world, and especially Italy, Bevilacqua has lived and photographed folks who choose to live a simpler life of solitude.
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