Sunday, February 02, 2014

The Year of the Horse – Starting Off With a Bang

Anyone who reads this blog, they know how I feel about bragging. That said, I do live in Texas, and bragging rights are part of our patrimony. So grin and bear it. 2014 has started off with a bang, what with tastings across the country. Some of them I’ve been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. January, wow, if this is any indication of what 2014 is going to be like, bring it on. Now, let the boasting begin.

Jan 1st began the year with some 1989 Paul Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage. Alongside it was my precious Lambrusco di Sorbara from Cleto Chiarli. We are slinging double, guns and wine, in Texas on Jan 1. Anyone got a problem with it? Too bad.

Around mid-January I headed to New York for the week. Meetings, work related stuff. We worked and tasted during the two days of meetings. Dinner at Red Rooster. Dancing at the Apollo. Tough enough. More pics.

Mind you, this was work.

Are we all clear on that?

Later that week, I met up with a bunch of gents for a Barolo dinner. Before the festivities Mark Scudiery shared a glass of Trebbiano with me. Read his blog. Be very jealous. Very generous of him, priming the pump for the Nebbiolo-fest to come.

Eric Guido organized a dinner at I Trulli, the theme 1989 Barolo. 16 wines, great event, perfectly matched food from the I Trulli kitchen. Eric’s post is the best way to dig in deeper, if you are interested. Ken Vastola, as well, posted his impeccable pictures and thoughts. And if that isnt enough, Gregory dal Piaz also weighed in here. Well done, all! It played into the 1989 theme I started on Jan 1. But this time we were deep in the heart of the Langa.

While in New York, I grabbed a moment to meet up with Levi Dalton. In a pre-birthday (his) happy hour moment, we shared a stunning bottle of 1999 Merlot del Ticino from Rovigo (Swiss) at Frank in the East Village. Levi, I like him. His podcasts help on those long drives to Austin and Houston. He understands irony. And humor.

Later in the week, Michele and Charles Scicolone invited me to their home for dinner. Their long-time friends, Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow joined the party. Five bloggers, food and wine, along with journalistic and academic credentials. To make it even more fun, I was the youngest person at the table, which doesn’t happen too often. The food was fabulous; what Michele does in the kitchen is pure magic. Yes, Charles is very blessed.

Wine wise that night wasn’t too shabby either. We started off with Ayala 2002, followed by a very interesting white from Campania, the Cantine Olivella Lacrimabianco, a Lacrima Christi Del Vesuvio Bianco DOC - 80% Caprettone and 20% Catalanesca. The red was a 1989 Paul Jaboulet (in magnum) Crozes Hermitage Vielle Vignes. I’m having a Paul Jaboulet month, it seems. I’m not complaining. Thank you Charles and Michele ( and Tom and Diane).

Back home, I met up with Giorgio Rivetti and we dined at the new Gemma in Dallas with Stephan Roger’s most comfortable food to accompany the wines from Tuscany and Piedmont, Contratto and La Spinetta. I’d never met Rivetti, but we immediately took a liking to one another. Sweet guy. His wines aren’t what I thought they were. I liked them. They weren’t these alcohol bombs I had read about in the blogosphere. But why am I not surprised? Lots of misinformation on wine blogs these days. Including this one.

One sunny Sunday in Texas we found a spot in Denton for brunch. The place, Hannah’s on the Square, has a very interesting wine list. We tried the 2012 Futurossa, a Monferrato DOC done in a Chiaretto style (rosé) from Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta (The folks that bring us Sassicaia).  Pleasant, perfect with the food and the company. The weather was very helpful to the overall enjoyment, as we were dining “almost” al fresco. Back atcha New York.

Wrapping up the month I spent time in Houston. Preparing for a Sicilian seminar which I was giving to the Houston Sommelier Association, David Keck and Ben Robert’s tasting group. They arranged for an impressive assortment of wines from Sicily. And I was able to talk about them (and Sicily) in front of the young crowd. I was the oldest person in the room that morning, but lately they’ve taken to calling me “The Oldest Millennial” at work. More on that at a later date.

Sicily is another country, my second love to peninsular Italy. Like David Crosby wrote, “Why can't we go on as three?” I think we will. Me. And Italy. And Sicily. Anyone got any problems with that?

Finally I ended up the month at RDG Bar Annie as the guest of Elisa Scavino and Peter Wasserman. An iconic Houston restaurant, all redone and gussied up; quite the fancy pants place. Great wine list. That night we drank Burgundy. Peter ordered.

A 2010 Puligny Montrachet from his stable, Hubert Lamy. Great stories from Peter about Lamy and Les Tremblots.

Followed by a 1964 Corton Bressandes from Camille Giroud. Again great stories. This was Peter’s first ’64 which will be one of many this year, as he is celebrating his birth year. Yes, it’s 1964. The secret is out. He has his AARP card and all.

The wine, after Peter wrestled the bottle from the overzealous server, was very healthy. There was no sign of faltering; this wine was heading to the finish line with great exuberance.

Thanks all, for your generosity of spirit and for opening up some incredible wines in my presence.

Yes, the year of the horse. Get ready for a hell of a year. And try to not let the horse throw you off.


wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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