Sunday, January 30, 2022

The Autostrada Interview

"An organism that is too greedy and takes too much without giving anything in return destroys what it needs for life and dies out." - Peter Wohlleben - The Hidden Life of Trees

“Do you mind if I record our conversation?” my fellow traveler asked. “I guess not,” I reluctantly replied. It was going to be a five-hour drive to our next appointment. I really was hoping my companion was more interested in listening to a podcast or an audio book. But Fredo is a chatty fellow, an extrovert to the max. “It’s just that I recently lost a friend. He was only 39. I wish I would have something of him, his words, to remember him as I drive down the lonely corridor of life.”

Why is it extroverts see the corridor of life as lonely? Maybe because they are screaming down the autostrada of life at 180 kph? Just maybe. Regardless, I was strapped in, he had the recorder on, and we weren’t getting out of this car for awhile. So it went.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Is there a Rolex of the wine world?

The world of wine, for those who follow it, can appear to be unpredictable and chaotic, an organized ferment of a sort. In the world of horology (watches) there are similar furors. One element though in the watch world, that I’m searching for in the wine world, is the domination of one brand at the highest (super premium) level. In the world of watches, that brand is Rolex.

With a wide array of styles, shapes, sizes and upscale price ranges, Rolex is considered to be one of the top watches to own and the top watchmaker in the world. Agree or not, this is a recognized matter by watch enthusiasts, as they routinely and regularly emphasize to me. Being a novice in that world, I concur to the opinion of those with more experience and expertise in this matter.

What is interesting to this wine (and watch) lover, though, is how Rolex, which I am told makes about a million watches a year, manages to influence and lead that world. That’s a lot of watches. In the world of wine, when we hear of a winery making a million bottles, they seem to escape that rarefied air which marks them as exclusive. Not so, with Rolex. In fact, try going down to your local jeweler or Rolex dealer and see if you can buy a watch in the store. And good luck with that. They are virtually unobtainable from their primary source. Oh, you can find one in the lively secondary market. And you will pay perhaps a 100-200% or even 300% premium for the privilege of strapping one of those watches on your wrist. If it ever makes it past your safe deposit box.

So, do we have anything like that in the wine world? I’ve been racking my brain, and I’m befuddled to find anything like the phenomenon of Rolex in the wine department.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Italian Wine Expert

I was in my local Italian store yesterday, picking up a few things for the weekend. On the way, there was a light dusting of snow. The brisk breeze swirled the snowflakes across the windshield, but the biggest danger was the drivers around me who drove with abandon. Something about the cold weather in Texas that makes people even more unpredictable than they already are.

Inside the store, it was bustling. Way too many people. I skirted around them and made a path through the wine aisle. There, in front of the Brunello section. were some well-dressed women looking at their cellphones, wines in front of them. Instinctively, I asked them if they needed any help. Yes, they were looking for a particular wine. I found it for them and moved on.

Sunday, January 09, 2022

The man who drank only one wine his whole life

It would be love at first sight. Deliciously dry with a keenness. It wouldn’t take itself too seriously. Vivacious and often mysterious. Ever changing, but constant and certain. And it would go with everything, and in every moment. In other words, it was the perfect mate of a wine. And it was going to be the only wine he would ever need, or ever drink, in his lifetime.

So it was, that I happened to spend an afternoon, at lunchtime, with the man who only drank one wine his whole life.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Advice to the Italian wine trade – don’t come to America now

Well, here we are, another new year. Another new variant in the coronavirus. And with the new year, the wine trade in Italy and America is raring to get back in gear. Oh sure, not until after the Epiphany and La Befana, and the ski trip to Cortina d’Ampezzo or the tropical island trip to the Seychelles. But eventually, someone is going to tell their export director to get back on the road. But I’m warning you – DON’T!

Oh, I know, the p.r. lackeys out there will tell you not to pay any attention to my warning. And because you’ve been holed up all year in Italy, you’re probably itching to go somewhere exciting, and get back to work. Make some money. Get your life back. Get on a plane. Make reservations at a nice hotel in New York or Los Angeles. Sit down at a restaurant that’s pouring your wine. Maybe even set up some wine dinners and work withs with your importer or distributor.

I get it. You’re tired of Covid. You’re bored. Your life needs some deeper meaning than a zoom call or another virtual wine dinner in Cleveland.

So, how are you going to pull the rabbit out of the hat in 2022? What would I do?

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