Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Youth - Not Wasted on the Young - Not This Time

It’s never easy to stare into the barrel of time. That’s a showdown that time always wins. We may make it for 60, 80, even 100 years, but the time comes when we all must give the stage over to the young talent. Fortunately there are always more of us coming. And in the last week, I have been overcome with young Italians coming to America after harvest to spread the word and help make the world safer for Italian wine. We are truly in the Golden Age of wine and these young Italians are working to extend that era.

The Italian youth (all in their 20's and 30's) I have encountered in the last week are inquisitive about America, and not just New York and San Francisco. They are stopping over in flyover country as well, and this bodes well.

Over the weekend, I scurried between Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where a dear friend was getting married. Now there’s a place where you can see the Italian influence. Having worked briefly in Westchester County some time ago, I was reminded of the affinity that New Yorkers have with Italian wine, often because it is part of their cultural roots.

In Texas, however, that is not the case. Wine is not part of our history or our beginnings. Guns are. Meat is. Fierce independence, yep, count on it. But wine, and Italian wine at that, has been a long slog. I know, because the arc of my life is a record of that marathon. “What was Italian white wine like in the 1980’s?” was a question that was asked of me this past week as we tasted though an incredible flight of Friuli whites. Not like it is today - not by a long shot.

But the shining light that Italy keeps shining into my brain with laser-like precision is the currency of their energy. And the fortunate few who are young and connected by family or luck to be in the wine business are traveling with the speed of that light to bring a needed vitality to places like Texas. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Look at the pictures – they say it all – service, above all, is the key. To listen, to pour, to tell their young stories, and to get up every day and do it again and again. Stefano Poggi, who lives in America, is the poster child for this – his indomitable energy and enthusiasm infects all who fall within hearing range. Stefano is the future and in hands like his, I know folks like me can ride off into the sunset knowing that Italian wine in America will only be more integrated into our rapidly changing culture. Thankfully I come from good genes, so maybe I will be able to see some of that in the next 20, 30 (40?) years.

Valeria Losi – I first laid eyes on here when she was two weeks old. Now she is a lovely young woman who speaks a multitude of languages and is engaging, funny and who understands what her uncles and grandfathers and mother and father and brother have had to do to get to the point where she can get on a plane and tell the world all about Querciavalle.

Valentina Bolla – when you watch her work with the family's newish estate in Tuscany, Poggio Verrano, you see the spirit of service with an instinct that she could only have inherited from a master marketer like her grandfather Franco (I’m sure her mother as well had a big part in it). Valentina engages is a way which is so uniquely Bolla-esque, and I mean that in the best way (like her grandfather). We are all descended from tiny drops of spirit matter from our parents and our grandparents, and Valentina will take Italian wine well into a healthy future.

photo montage by Christine Crawford

Luigi Seracca Guerrieri has good instincts. He reminds me of Mariano Rivera, the NY Yankee pitcher. Quiet, unassuming, I remember a client pulled me aside and asked me if Luigi could work the crowd. My answer to him was, “Watch him. He has a few pitches these folks have never seen.” And like Rivera, Luigi, when he is holding a bottle of his Fiano or Negroamaro from Cantine Castello Monaci, he’s preparing to bring it home. Man is he smooth.

Speaking of smooth, Michele Pasqua, the “CEO” of Marco Felluga, is the epitome of smooth. Sporting a custom made double breasted jean suit (yeah, you heard me right) Michele looks like he just finished a marathon, had a shower and a rubdown and is ready for the red carpet. Damn, is he good. And he has to be – wines from Friuli aren’t exactly on everybody’s shopping list (sorry, somm community, the normal folks actually haven’t gotten there like you all have). In any event, the wines of Marco Felluga and Russiz Superiore are a pretty easy sell, and with Michele’s LVMH experience, he packages Sauvignon (sans "magic potion) and Ribolla as if it were Krug. Yeah, we’re in good hands.

While we’re on the subject of being in good hands, to finish the post (which is late) my friend Carlo Pellegrini is one lucky son of a gun. This past weekend, over a handful of Italian wines with a group of friends he has collected over that past 40 years (jugglers, dancers, circus folks, writers, novelists, politicians, you name it) Carlo married his soul mate Hilary. I’m sure the next 30 or 40 years will be nothing but bliss for my dear friend – just look into the eyes of his bride. Let’s wish her all the luck in the world keeping up with him. His hair may be silvering, but he’s got moves. Cent’anni, cugino. Name the first boy after me, will ya?

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you're young at heart.

written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

1 comment:

pw said...

Lovely. Beautiful insights into AND the wine.

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