Sunday, October 29, 2023

Bidding Adieu to a Longtime Friend

Lately, on the blog and IRL I’ve been opening up elderly bottles from the wine closet. Part of that stems from an analysis I did of the wines in the closet, and found that 25% of the wines in there were over 25 years old. While that might be magical words for some wine collectors, to me it caused a sense of dread on two fronts. Firstly, that old wines tend to get even older if not opened. And as we see from elderly humans, not all get old in the same way. Secondly some of those wines 25 years or older (especially from the 1990's) I remember putting them in there on release and wondering when and if they’d ever be ready.

Well, did I get a wake-up call on that! Seems that a majority of red wines 25 years and older are either ready, sick or dying. Or already dead. And it happened faster than I thought it would. So much for my glorious wine collecting aspirations from youth. These bottles are like tattoos. Some of them worked and some of them didn’t. But all of them were an oblique reference to an earlier me and my state of mind. Fortunately, an off bottle of Barolo is easier to dispose of than a faulty tattoo of Jerry Garcia.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Interviewing Italian Wine - The Moment When Everything Changed

Italian culture is a timeless and ongoing revolution. Wine has been swept up in that benevolent maelstrom. Thus, it seems like a good time to revisit our old friend, Italian Wine, and interview them. Over several long lunches and a myriad of bottles opened, young and old, this interview has been streamlined for today’s attention span deficient society. However, this process has been going on for hundreds of years. Glad for you to dip in.


Q: Ciao, and thank you for joining us.

IW: Niente, you’re most welcome.

Q: Let’s jump right in. Did you notice an inflection point, a moment of illumination, internal/external, when your awareness changed (when you awoke to the meaning/ direction in your process), was there an event that changed or was there something that took place, internally, that happened?

IW: Wow, a long question with not a short answer. But I will try and explain. As you know, we’ve been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, in some form or another. But realistically, it wasn’t until the 20th century that wine, in general, took on a more rapid evolution. It seems to have coincided with the technological changes the world was undergoing. But there was also a new energy coming from the earth, a novel expression of life, that was being captured in the vines. It was as if the earth was awakening from a long sleep. And Italy is more than blessed to be an epicenter of the world’s energy, or so the Italians like to think. And maybe that is so. In any case, the momentum right after World War II gave impetus to the most rapid set of changes in Italian (and I daresay the world) wine creation. Technology, rebuilding a world that was destroyed by war, economic investment, more rapid and efficient forms of communication and transportation, and the desire to get back to life and living, by the humans, gave us hope in the ground. The long sleep was over and a new dawn was upon us.  So, I hope that begins to answer our question, although there could be a book written about that subject.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Battle for Wine – Symbolic vs. Economic Value

“When, and under what emotional pressure, does a memory shift from being a reliable account of something to a story that we tell ourselves about what we wish had occurred?
– Anthony Lane reviewing the film, “Anatomy of a Fall” 

As with almost anything on planet Earth these days, wine is also experiencing conflict. Mostly from dueling perspectives and accounts about what wine is. Throw in a dollop of virtuousness, a sprinkle of inexperience, a teaspoon of youthful confidence and a cup of the shifting of cultures, and right before your eyes all the tried and true, the mainstays, the fundamental market movers, shift in their relevance.

A young writer friend who I admire put it this way: “I sometimes feel like there’s the actual wine market and what moves it, and then there’s the tiny bubble that a small number of cool kids in NYC and LA think is cool. Which has symbolic value, but actual economic value? Not so much, I guess!”

Sunday, October 08, 2023

What I learned about wine writing from a Black female science-fiction author

When I graduated from college I moved back to the town where I was born, Altadena, California. Unbeknownst to me, one of my neighbors was a budding science-fiction writer. She lived one street above us, and she was on her way to becoming one of the greatest science-fiction novelists of our time.

I was working various jobs. In the morning I would head up the hill to work making custom furniture. After lunch, at our home workshop I would work on custom frames. And in the evening, I would drive to Pasadena or Hollywood where I worked as a waiter. We were starting a family, we were broke, the economy sucked, and I still entertained visions of becoming a great photographer. I had a full plate in my 20’s. So did my sci-fi neighbor, as she was also in her 20’s and no one had any idea the greatness she could achieve. Except for her. She was on a mission. Her name was Octavia Butler. And she changed my world.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

A Remembrance ~ Anisetta in Palermo

revised from the archives... 
I remember that sinuous ceramic floor, on top of the building on Via Roma. Of all things, why that floor? Perhaps the floor was the safe, the repository for all the memories stored up on the roof overlooking Palermo. All the long dinners, late lunches, cups of coffee in the early morning looking out over the water, watching the ships pull into the harbor. Looking at Monte Pellegrino in the afternoon, in the aperitivo moment. For whatever reason, that odd squiggly tile floor pulls me into the shots. Most of these people are family in some way, most of them are now gone. But here it is, Memorial Day, and one of their kin is remembering them, channeling them, looking back into the past peering into the magic mirror of images my grandfather brought back.
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