Thursday, March 27, 2014

What's New? What's Compelling? What Are You Looking For?

Sitting at a table earlier this week with a handful of new wines to taste, I started to think “What’s new about these wines?” I really was thinking “What is compelling” about them. But in our race to find the latest, greatest and rush it to market, I’ve started looking at the Italian wine market a little differently.

Maybe “What’s new?” isn’t the best way to frame the conversation. We go from Frascati, to Verdicchio to Galestro. Galestro? Who even thinks about that wine anymore? But once upon a time it was billed as the next best thing. And then Pinot Grigio came along.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Week That Was: Resuming the Hunt for La Cucina Italiana

Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo

This past week it seemed I had been trapped in a time warp. I’m sure the deaths our family experienced in the past two weeks had something to do with it. One spends time with relatives going over the good times, telling stories, recounting this event or that episode. It takes a lot out of one to go back and look at all those things.

The death of our family friend Mario really signaled the end of a chapter in all of our lives. Friend to my father, the man who gave me a start when I stepped into a new city with nothing, along the way finding something that would occupy my time and passion for years, Italian wine. It wasn’t about wine, though. The overarching theme centered on elevating la Cucina Italiana to a place one takes for granted in Italy. But in America, it was rarely found.

I saw it, experienced it, was indoctrinated in the school of la Cucina Italiana. I saw it grow up in my adopted town, saw the rest of the country embrace it, take it run with it. It has been a great time to witness this moment, a golden age for Italian cooking in America.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My "other" Italy ~ sans tourists, sans checklist

This week, while doing a wine dinner for a private group, the subject of where I liked to go in Italy was asked. I hesitated for a moment, thinking to myself “Do I really want to tell all these strangers about my special place in Italy where no one goes? Do I want this loud room of revelers to invade my beach, my mountains, my serenity?”

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Great Fast-Track Resources to Learn More About Italian Wine

Sara Maule of Nino Negri at Caracol in Houston w/wine director Sean Beck
In the past week, while on the road with Sara Maule of Nino Negri, we encountered many questions about Valtellina wine and Italian wine in general. Sommeliers, wine lovers, retail store managers, the list goes on. People ask me, all the time, what they can do to get a clearer picture on Italian wines. Here are some ideas

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Life of a Great Italian, in 12 bottles

In Memory of Mario Messina 1916-2014

We have finally arrived. I started with eleven others, wrapped ever so carefully in soft, white tissue. Laid ever so gently in the wooden box and covered on top.

The voyage from our place of birth to my new world took a long time. First we traveled on a cart, drawn by horses. Then we were set inside a dark, cool store room, to wait for the warm months to subside. Then, finally we were put on a great ship to cross the ocean.

The great lull of the water, back and forth, like being held as a child by one’s mother, rocking, back, forth, gently. It was a peaceful voyage; the first Great War was over. Peace reigned over the sea and the land.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Why Young Wine is as Good as Puppy Love

Born to be Delectable

There are so many wines available in today’s world that just weren’t around 10 or 20 years ago. In our flatter world, access to good, dependable wine is greater than it has ever been. And Italy has contributed some excellent examples: wines that are tasty, friendly and good values. And wines you can have often. Most of these wines come to the stores and the restaurants relatively young. And they are built to go, not for show, or to stow. These are casual wines, flings, if you will. This is as good as puppy love. But, while you wait for your true love to mature, in the cellar or the wine vault, what is one to do? Live life as an ascetic? Abstain? Wait? Absolutely not.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Looking for La Morra in All the Wrong Places

A Cautionary Tale from the Langa

Mariondino was beginning to feel the winter thaw in his loins. He longed to jump into one of his Cars and steer his little Pira past his Pora to visit his dear Bernadot.

“It’s been ages since I saw her sweet little Muncagota,” he pronounced. “What I wouldn’t give for a Ronchi in her Montefico.” It had been too long since his Ornato had been in anyone’s Vallegrande. “I’m too young to hang on, I need some Cannubi!” The Ovello seemed in a lot of pain.

So down the Via Nuova he steered, rolling many past lovers, now still slumbering. “Gallina, she was one of my first. How calm she was with me, I much younger than her, so patient she was as she caressed my Balluri.”

Real Time Analytics