Friday, May 30, 2014

My (Oh, So Superior) Wine vs. Your (So-So) Wine

Three weeks on the road, driving across Texas - Dallas to Houston to San Antonio to Austin to Dallas - there has been time to talk in the car with my travel mates. We go into a city and see clients, and then get in the car and head to another city. In and out. Over time patterns emerge. Here is what I have seen in these days.

Whether the person you are going to see is a seasoned veteran or a new-on-the-scene wine buyer, they all have opinions. If they are older, they often have a punch list of preferences by which they evaluate the Italian wines we are setting in front of them. If they are the new crop, they too have their list. How the two different types fill out their list is quite different.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

7 Questions about Italy, Wine and Passion

A few months ago on Antonio Galloni’s Vinous “Your Say” site, there was some lively conversation when Monica Larner showed up. She peeked in and said hello and some of the folks were off to find their pitchforks and machetes, whereby she ducked back out, never to be heard from again in that chat room. Pity, because I think highly of Monica. But I definitely understand when one is made to feel unwelcome by some of the members. Organizations, families and the like aren’t always comprised of people who play nice. Sometimes they hurt.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Italian White Wines for Collectors – Aging with Honor

Recently, there has been a thread that is developing on these posts. One post, Old Wines for Young Sommeliers, looked into a world the younger generation might consider for their future enjoyment. Another one, White Wine for Red Wine Lovers, focused on white wines from Italy that might be enjoyable to folks with a disposition for red wine. Along the way folks asked me about white wines from Italy that age well. Then another friend sent me a column from Kerin O’Keefe of the Wine Enthusiast, entitle Aging Gracefully, about Italian wines that counter the notion of pronto bevere. It was a short piece, and though the wines written about were definitely age-worthy, the piece wasn’t long enough (probably by design) to get into other specific wines that I find (or want to find) in my wine closet. Let’s talk about some of those wines.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What Do I Need to Learn About Italian Wine?

Wow! How does one answer that one in 1000 words or less? Fortunately I have been asked that question a lot more lately. A new crop of wine salespeople is rushing towards Italian wines. And most of them are women under 30.

I see it all now. The bearded sage is leading hundreds of beautiful, intelligent young women from the summit of Mount Nebo and showing them the path to the river Jordan, where they will pass into the Promised Land.

All of a sudden I get a tap on my shoulder, from a young woman in spandex workout clothes. “Hello? I asked you: What do I need to learn about Italian wines?” Her impatience was implacable.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Resistance Report - The Return of the Wine Snob?

Status quo is a tricky thing. If you fight to get your position to dominate, someone will come up from behind and try to make their position superior. We see it all the time in the rarified wine world. Some folks will make a particular wine or wine style popular. Ten minutes later and 180 degrees in the other direction, another group will make their plea for relevance. Chardonnay, with oak. Chardonnay, without oak. White wine, with acid. White wine, with fruit. Red wine with power. Red wine with buoyancy. And on and on. Everyone is looking to discover something no one has unearthed. We see it all the time in young wine buyers; they want to find it themselves. Problem is, it isn’t lost. It just has not been revealed to them.

With an old-timer yesterday, talking about this. His take was, “These snotty somms, what kind of life experience have they had, compared to you, to me?” I was shoveling in scrambled eggs, trying to fill up the hole in my stomach from the night before, where a lump of undigested onions was still seething. Last thing on my mind was the future as run by the current cadre of millennials.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

From Italy to Argentina to Texas – A Buffalo Gap Sagra

You see it often in Italy. A celebration. Of pasta, of tomatoes, of zucchini flowers. Especially during harvest season, as one drives along the roads of Italy, there are signs of local celebrations, or Sagras, as they are known. Deep in the heart of West Texas, it isn’t harvest season. But our friends from Argentina are in the midst of gathering grapes to make wine. A few of them took a long weekend off to join us in our annual celebration at Perini Ranch, the Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit, in its 10th year.

This post will be short on words and long on images. One of the great festivals in Texas for food and wine, Buffalo Gap has retained its “aw shucks” style of simplicity. Lisa and Tom Perini, are on their way to New York to accept a James Beard Foundation 2014 America’s Classics Award, given to restaurants “that have timeless appeal and are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community.” Our little ‘ol national treasure, just a hop, skip and a jump from Abilene, is bringing home the medallion. But what makes Perini Ranch and the Buffalo Gap Summit great is that everybody hangs out, talks, drinks, eats and even dances together. No long queues, no Madison Avenue hype, just great weather, wine and food. It’s pretty wonderful. Thank you Lisa and Tom, and all the wonderful folks that make it happen.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

White Wine for Red Wine Lovers

and a couple for white wine lovers too

This past trip to Italy, some of my favorite red wine makers showed me their white wines. Italians aren’t as regimented in their allegiance to red wine as we seem to be in America. In America the sign of having arrived as real wine aficionados is to embrace all that is red. Medical news stories hawk the health benefits of resveratrol, never mind that if you drank enough red wine to take advantage of the benefits of resveratrol, you’d probably first die of liver poisoning.

The British wine experts also made red wine a priority. Harry Waugh was reported to have said “The first duty of wine is to be red.” For anyone who wanted to be considered a serious wine person, one had to know their red wine.

Over time, I’ve come to think, like my Italian cousins, that red wine isn’t always the best choice for a meal. Many of the dishes we have require something more delicate. Weather conditions also taken into account, sometimes a beefy Super Tuscan or a high acid, tannic Nebbiolo is just too much for summers in Texas. Or many places in the Northern Hemisphere these days.

The reality is, I love white wine. And many of my wine expert friends do too. It’s not that we don’t love red wine; we just don’t love it exclusively. But walking the aisles of a wine store and asking people what they are looking for, by and large, most of them think they need a red wine. And so it goes.

The following wines are selections I tasted from the last trip. These are wines that red wine lovers can learn to love. And there are a couple of wines just for the white wine fanatics that I call my friends. Here they are.

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