Sunday, December 29, 2019

14 Year Anniversary - On the Wine Trail in Italy - The Year-End Review

This year marks 14 years on the wine trail in Italy. 2019 was also the year I transitioned from the hectic wine trade to a more tranquil life. I now write about wine for publications other than this blog, and I devote time to more reflection and am dedicating energy to other aspects of my being. For many in the wine trade, what one does seems to define who one is. I am not a fan of labels, never have been. Everyone is trying to cube us up, put us into a box, so that they can explain who we are by what we do. That’s typical Western Anglo-Saxon American silliness.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Christmas Time Quiz for 2020 for the Italian Wine Trade

Chances are, you are already offline, having already sent out your generic holiday greetings, are not checking your email, and are ensconced somewhere in the mountains, by the seashore, with family, maybe on a beach in the Seychelles or Cuba, and settling in for a long and well-deserved holiday.

The harvest is in, the deed is done and what will be, will be. So, let’s have some fun with a short quiz.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Memo to the Italian Wine Trade: Tell Me “YOUR” Story!

Roberto Bava (L), one of Italy's great wine story tellers,
with his daughter Francesca at Vinitaly
It seems like I’ve written about this in the past. Maybe it’s just déjà vu. But for some reason, my Italian wine trade amici still need to read this. The funny thing is, my French cousins will, because they still read wine blogs. The Italians? Not so much. But I will persevere, try to help them to help themselves, even if they don’t think they need it. So, here goes.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

“喜劇結束了” - The State of Italy - Wine, Culture, All of It - in 2120

“Italian investment of time and resources in importing wine to China will ultimately turn out to be a big mistake. The Chinese will eventually get their production to a level where they can be seen as prestigious as the first growths of Bordeaux (the French are complicit in helping them get there, and along the way, have sold their souls for a buck). And when the state media of China convinces Chinese (or compels them) to be loyal to their homegrown wine, which is better than anywhere else in the world, "La Commedia è finita" [ 喜劇結束了]. Italian wine will have been pared down to miniscule levels, and will be so rare and exclusive as to be the private domain of billionaires and NPC apparatchik. You and I will be dead then.” – Luisa Parker-Ragg in 2020

Assisi - February 14, 2120 A.D.

Where to start? As everyone knows by now, around 2040, things got tough for Italians in these parts. The Chinese population alone in Tuscany was nearing 500,000, displacing many generations of Tuscans who died in the 1st Pandemic of 2020. Along with that, the birth rate declined so extensively that it was hard to keep some of our industries going. Native manufacturing all but disappeared. And farming wouldn’t have survived if not for AI. Vineyards began to shrivel, with no one to work the land. And then, as if overnight, we found out that China owned 58% of Italian land and industry. We had been invaded, overrun and taken over by our own hubris and inertia. Now we are a colony.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Altamont, December 6, 1969 - The end of the '60's or, simply, childhood's end?

Altamont was dubbed “the end of the ‘60’s,” but for some of us it was simply childhood’s end. For this child of the 60’s it was a time when I left the safe confines of my desert village and moved to college, to the city. But it was outside of that city that the urban darkness descended on a typically bright and sunny California day.

What I saw, not heard - for there was a concert providing a soundtrack to all of this - was not just restless youth living in an uncertain time. It was as if the curtain of civility was being pulled back, just a little, much like what a carnival barker does to entice innocent bystanders into his tent. But this onlooker had his camera, so he stepped in and started shooting.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

A late-night dispatch from a tired and wary Italian wine export agent in China

[ Imagine a scenario where Italian wine exporters, winemakers and their agents make their twice (or thrice) yearly pilgrimage to China in search of trade and success. And imagine, if you will, one of those agents sending a note in the middle of the night. It has happened many times, and as such, this one emanated from one of those cold, dark, lonely rooms, overlooking a pop-up city of millions in the middle of the night.]

Dear A,

It’s 3 A.M. and I got into my room two hours ago. I’m writing to you because it’s afternoon where you are, and back home in Italy people have sat down to their Sunday dinner. They have other, more important things on their mind than my travails in the Middle Kingdom.

I’ve just come in from another wine banquet, this time in Zhengzhou. Course after course, some recognizable, some as foreign as the Chinese characters on the signs. And wine, Italian wine. Multiple vintages of this wine or that wine. In my case, it is our Brunello, which goes back many years. How our hosts found the 1955, I’ll never know. We don’t even have it in our cave back home. But that seems to be the way it is in China. One can find things seemingly lost to history. On the other hand, one can find that here the past is shunned, forever lost. At least the truth of history. But that’s what it must be like when you live under the rule of a leader who had himself voted ruler for life. God, what I’d give to have a plate of spaghetti con peperoncino aglio olio right now, to settle my stomach and to rid my palate from the taste of smoked duck and soy.

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