Sunday, August 29, 2021

50 years ago ~ notes from Palermo ~ August, 1971

After booking passage on the ship from Naples, I spotted the bay of Palermo, the Conca d’Oro. My family was supposed to be meeting me at the dock. I felt like Vasco da Gama, or Amerigo Vespucci, in reverse.

My grand aunt and uncle were there with their family, welcoming this young, gawky Americano in jeans, carrying a back pack. I must have been a sight.

They spoke very little English, the younger ones more conversant than the elders. I spoke a smattering of Italian. But we were family! We can do this!

In fact, learning Italian by immersion works. I’m not saying it worked on me then, but I was thrust into a culture and a language and I had to find oxygen. I had to speak Italian.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

By the Bottle: Darrell Corti

Wine lovers on wine and the vinous life.

In my mind, Darrell Corti embodies that often-quoted motto from Joseph Campbell, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” He is one of my heroes. We share California as our native state and Italy as our place of ancestral descent. He knows almost more about anything, food, wine and otherwise, than I or many of us will ever be able to comprehend. Underlying all of that is a kindness and an openness that imprint Darrell as incomparable. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me to have him on our series, and in our world.

What wines do you have standing up right now?

Most of the samples that I have received. During the summer, wines with deposit are really not interesting.

What’s the last great wine you drank?

What do you mean by great? Expensive? There are not many really great wines around, but a lot of expensive ones!

Are there any classic wines that you only recently had for the first time?

Again, what do you mean by “classic?” I can imagine what you mean, but perhaps there are not so many “classic” wines around. Classic to me, may not be “classic” to someone else.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

50 years ago ~ Postcard from Naples ~ August 22, 1971

From the archives
Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, I'm in Italy. I finally made it to Rome. The last week has been warm. Hotter than where I came from. Rome was miserable. And empty, save for a few Americans who actually had lire. Wartime in America. Nixon devalued the dollar the day I arrived in Rome to get more European countries to buy things from us. We need the money to pay for the war in Vietnam. And it looks like we are going into a recession that could last for years.

I got to Naples from Rome on a train. I have a day before the ferry takes me to Palermo. I have a day to kill.
Now, I'm walking.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

By the Bottle: Eric Asimov

Wine lovers on wine and the vinous life.

  I first met Eric in Napa Valley, California. Since then, we’ve traveled, supped and opened a bottle or two in New York City, Austin, Texas and Sicily. Eric has the distinction of being one of the most influential wine critics today, a position he doesn’t take lightly (nor would he probably admit to it). Nonetheless, it is what it is. He’s riding that tiger. Let’s jump on board with him and take a spin, shall we?

What wines do you have standing up right now?

Most of the time, what I’m planning to drink is a function of what I’m planning to write about. I will keep that private other than to say I’ve just enjoyed some excellent bottles for my Wine School unit on dark rosés.

What’s the last great wine you drank?

I prefer to think of “greatness” in terms of context, expectations and fulfillment rather than on some universal scale in which the great wines are profound examples of historic terroirs or estates. With that in mind I would say a Château de Béru Chablis Montserre 2018 was a great wine. I love Chablis, though I’m not a particularly a fan of the 2018 vintage. Nonetheless, this wine was beautiful, intense in the way of the vintage yet full of characteristic Chablis minerality rather than fruitiness, pure and unmediated. I loved it.

Are there any classic wines that you only recently had for the first time?

I can’t think of any sorts of wine, though I can think of plenty of legendary bottles that I’ve never had, and probably never will. Cheval Blanc 1947, for one.  

Sunday, August 15, 2021

My 50 year anniversary, or Nozze d'Oro, with Italy

It was on this day, August 15th, in 1971, that I first landed in Italy. It was a 20th birthday gift, with a little help from my friends. The plane flight from Los Angeles International airport to Aeroporto Internazionale di Roma–Fiumicino "Leonardo da Vinci" cost $900.00 (about $6,0000.00 today). No small sum for a college student then. But I wanted to visit the birthplace of my grandparents, and see the country where it all started for this young student, budding photographer and eventually, an Italian wine lover.

Once I landed, I decided to walk to Rome. Not thinking it that far away, and trying to conserve my money, in addition to the fact that I didn’t have many lire on me, I headed outside.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

By the bottle: Anthony D'Anna

Wine lovers on wine and the vinous life.

Anthony and I met in Italy and fast became pals. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, he and his family have made wine, and especially Italian wine, a priority in their corner of the world. Endowed with a youthful vigor and a curious mind, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Anthony, and I hope the rest of you will also take pleasure in his insights, his impeccable taste and his exuberant joy about wine and life.


What wines do you have standing up right now?

One of the few benefits of lock-down in Oz has been a lot more time at home. That has meant I have had the opportunity to drink wines that have been cellared for 10-15 years and are now ready to be drunk. Over the last few weeks I have had a good look at 2006 Barolo with the highlights being Borgogno Barolo Classico 2006 and Piero Benevelli Ravera di Monforte Barolo 2006. These 2006 are in a great spot right now.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

On photography, personal passion and a significant occurrence

his past week I’ve been out of pocket at a photography workshop retreat in northern Wisconsin bordering Lake Superior. The weather was cooler than it was in Texas, but warmer than normal (for Wisconsin). But I wasn’t there for the climate.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

By the Bottle: Joanie Bonfiglio

Wine lovers on wine and the vinous life.

Joanie Bonfiglio is the epitome of hope wrapped inside a bundle of energy that could power the city of Las Vegas. I’ve tasted, supped and enjoyed wines with her in Italy and California, and am always overjoyed at the questions she asks, the wines that show up at the table and her enduring effort to polish that giant chunk of marble we call life. Joanie is young, female and undaunted – perfect for the 21st century wine trade. We need more Joanie’s in this world, but for now I am overjoyed we have her in our midst, taking us into the future. I can't wait for our next dinner together. [all photos by Joanie – she is also an accomplished shooter!]


What wines do you have standing up right now?

There are so many wines to open right now. I just started a new role as a national sales manager (in the West) for Kermit Lynch, so I have been happily working my way through the portfolio trying to get a feel for all the producers.  Leaning about and tasting all the new wines has the be the most fun part about a new job in this industry.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Gone Shootin'

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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