Monday, June 30, 2014

When a DOCG isn't a DOCG - and when that's not enough

Thursday, June 26, 2014

“We have become accustomed to constant change and instant boredom.”

"The business of wine buying is being handed over to a bunch of fireflies and their life span matches their attention span. It’s no longer about good or even great wines. It’s all about the next wine. Forget about the last wine, even if it was a quixotically unpronounceable and profoundly delicious wine like Txakoli."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sex and the Cittadella

From the "You've come a long way, baby" Dept. of Satirical Prognostication

One of the wonderful aspects about writing about Italian wine, life and culture lies in the Italians ability to stir things up. I might get tired of writing this wine blog (or wine blogs in general) but I never tire of the Italian sense of keeping things interesting.

In this recent case, I was sitting at a dinner table with friends, one who is a winemaker in Tuscany. This person had just gotten an email about a recent promotion for Chianti Classico in a convent in Radda. The accompanying image was in stark contrast to the normally secular interpretation one gives to a religious house. It appears the Chianti Classico Consortium has been involved in the restoration of the (former) convent of Santa Maria al Prato for ten years. The newly named “House of Chianti Classico” will have educational events, cooking courses, art, music and other events in which to showcase the wines of Chianti Classico. I’m good with all of this.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Do Americans love and drink Italian wines more than Italians?

There is a pattern I have noticed lately when talking to Italian winemakers about their production and where they send their wine. That is, the domestic market for selling Italian wine (in Italy) is a mangled mess.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How to bring your Italian wine to the American market

No matter which party is dominant in Washington, no matter if the Dow is 26,000 or 1,600, no matter if we are in an unpopular war somewhere in the world, no matter if it all seems like the earth is a big fat match getting ready to be struck on the side of the matchbox, no matter – people want to sell their Italian wine to America. The dream of America is still alive in Italy. Let’s take a look at some of the routes to market.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

When Wine Experts Aren’t Always Right

I’m sitting at my table with a dear old friend. We’ve traveled around Italy, France, California. You name it, we’ve been there. If you live long enough, it can happen.

Tonight, though, we’re at home. Or rather, I am. He’s still 250 miles from his bed and his pillow and he has a 10PM appointment with a bunch of young sommeliers to talk about and taste Bordeaux wines. Yes, we’re lifers.

So, I talk to him about something that we witnessed last week in California. Long story short- we were judges at the state fair in California and to warm up our palates, our hosts sent us ( all 73 of us) a glass of something and asked us to identify it. No clue as to where it came from. Nothing.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

California Wine Report ~ 1st Rosé of the Season ~ Everything Starts Over @ 100

Celebrating 100 years, before flying to Dallas, with a glass of Provence Rosé
This past week, the wine trail had me in home state of California judging State Fair Wine Competition. When the week ended I flew down to Newport Beach to pick up my mom, who just turned 100, and we headed back to Dallas for another round of celebrations. Wine bloggers have their weaknesses - @HawkWakaWaka has Jr, @Steve! has his Gus and @Hosemaster has his Lo Hai Qu. I have a centenarian mom who walks faster than me and as I write this, I’m trying to figure out how to tire her out so I can take a nap! Good luck with that. Wine blogging might be dead, but wine blogger’s moms, at least this one; she isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

At the airport we had an hour or so, and we shared some of the new rosé of the season, the 2013 Domaines Ott from Provence. I had just found out from a DNA report that my mom is related to Marie Antoinette (and my dad is related to Napoleon Bonaparte!) so we celebrated 100 years with a glass of French wine before we got on the plane to Dallas. Mom says she doesn't remember having rosé wine recently. "Everything starts over @100", I once heard.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

In Praise of Funky Wine

or, 7 ways to keep squirrels from drinking your wine

Sacramento, California – I am sequestered these past two days with 70+ wine experts for the annual California State Fair Wine Competition. My Italian connection has given me wines from California made with Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, along with Zinfandel, red Italian-esque blends (SuperTuscans), Carignan and white Rhone varietal blends.

A couple of things right up front. While I learned to drink wine growing up in California, my palate has migrated towards Italian (and European) wines. That said, I am not against California wines. Far from it. But I believe I do pass wine through the filters of my preconceptions (as we all do, all of us, except maybe Dan Berger).

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Merlot, the most hated grape 10 years running, finds a home in Italy (and in my heart)

It doesn’t seem that long, but in 2004 the movie Sideways was released. In the film, Pinot Noir was lionized, and to this day, the sales of Pinot Noir are still roaring. Merlot, on the other hand, was excoriated. The character Miles had a famous line in which he said, “If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any f***ing Merlot!” Ironically, the last wine he was seen drinking at the end of the movie was a Cheval Blanc 1961, which is a blend, predominantly, of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

I am one of those people who disavowed any allegiance to Merlot. I shunned it; I avoided it at all costs. I refrained from drinking it. I loathed it. Or so I thought.

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