Sunday, December 14, 2008

You Know It's Italian...

I had this idea when I was driving along a vineyard in California recently. The vineyard had rows of grapes each marked with a different grape: Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto, Sangiovese, and Pinot Noir. Really. Never would you see that in Italy. So it got me to thinking about some things that are uniquely Italian. And in the spirit of the blogosphere, I wrote to several folks asking them what their ideas were.

The sentence I asked folks to finish was:

You know it’s Italian when…

That simple.

It could be something like:

“You know it’s Italian when you drive past a vineyard and they don’t have Pinot Grigio planted right next to Dolcetto and Pinot Noir.”


“You know it’s Italian when the sip of sweet wine is being served to you by a priest, not a sommelier.”

That kind of thing.

And here’s what I heard back. In case there are folks who sent something in and I didn’t post it, let me know, I’ll append. Or if folks just got too durned busy, if’n you want in, send it. Va bene?

Hank Rossi: You know you're Italian if you were 14 before you knew your name wasn't "Testa Dura"

You know it's Italian when the winery has a gas pump like device so it can sell wine to its neighbors in bulk at a good price.

You know it's Italy when every restaurant recommendation is followed by "and they have good prices".

Marco Romano: You know it's Italian when there are strong hints of volcanic acidity in your glass.

You know it's Italian when the pasta with vongole tastes more of the sea after each sip of wine.

Guy Stout: You know it’s Italian when you are craving Pasta in a Bolognese sauce with wide egg noodles and a few bottles Chianti Riserva.

You know it's Italian when it doesn't fit because it’s too tight.

You know it's Italian when you're at a bar in Sant'Angelo Scalo at 7:30 in the morning and you overhear someone saying, "C'ho tanto di quel merlot da raccogliere" (I got a mess of Merlot to pick).

Jeff Siegel: You know it’s Italian when the wine is made with a grape no one has ever heard of, and the wine tastes a lot better than the stuff made with grapes people have heard of.

Tracie Branch: You know it's Italian when an old wine barrel is blocking your driveway.

Thomas Pellechia: You know it's Italian when the drainage tiles in the vineyard are clean enough to serve as dinner plates.

Jon Gerber: You know it's Italian when you can't understand what the winemaker is saying but you understand him perfectly by watching what he says with his hands.

Andrew Barrow : You know it's Italian when it drinks even more beautifully with food

Amy Atwood: You know it's Italian when you can't quite understand what they are saying but that doesn't matter because you know you want more!

Linda Hinton (who works for Louis Latour): You know it's Italian when there are no Tums or Rolaids on the premises, only Amaro and Limoncello.

You know it's Italian when the vineyards have been in the family for a few centuries, not generations.

Anon: You know it’s Italian when your taxes are unpaid and your women are

Antonio Gianola: You know it's Italian when the espresso is always perfect, people who drink wine with lunch are not alcoholics and the men are more concerned about fashion than the women.

Craig Collins: You know it's Italian when you have been sitting at the table for an hour and a half already, you have eaten so much you can not move, you have drank so much you are slurring, the main course finally arrives and it is only lunch.

Nancy and Gary Krabill: You know it's Italian when Vin Santo arrives unbidden to your table and the restaurant owner is too polite to point out that you weren't supposed to drink the whole bottle!

You know it's Italian when you are the last party in a restaurant and notice the waiters have gone to sleep on the tables rather than approach you to offer your check.

Dana Schrick: You know it's Italian when you sip a Brunello and your mind conjures up a picture of John Wayne swaggering over to his horse, mounting up and galloping off into the sunset.

Gianpaolo Paglia: you know it’s Italian when there is no penguin, lizard, or other cute animals on the label.

Carmen Castorina: You know it’s Italian when drinking the wine makes them smile!

Joyce Hobbs: You know it’s Italian when you see a person on a Vespa and their dog is riding with them in the middle.

Filippo de Belardino: You know it’s Italian when the kids at the table are drinking ginger ale with a small amount of wine in their glass.

You know it’s Italian when someone the priest at the mass demands a DOCG sacramental wine.

Susannah Gold: You know it's Italian when there is a strange combination of aromas and flavors that sort of remind you of France, maybe Alsace but then something hits you that seems vaguely Austrian or Hungarian...unsure you race through wine regions and realize it could only be from Friuli.

You know it’s Italian when you sip the wine, get lots of acidity and then it slips into an amazingly integrated mouthful.

You know it's Italian when the grape variety is hard to pronounce but it makes you dream of far away and exciting places.

Thanks everybody!


Robert Pellegrini: You know it's Italian when you pass a home with a perfectly manicured garden and a statue of St. Francis, or La Madonna in front.

Steve Armes: You know it's Italian when the descriptions on the menu don't include words like infused, deconstructed, or anything to do with molecular cooking.

Ceri Smith: You know it's Italian when you care about the wine and not the "points."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Too Much Information

I tried writing this post with a catchy title, woven with news and personal observations. But it just wasn’t quite right. Too many ingredients on my plate. So let’s try again.

The Italian wine trail has taken me to the Hill Country of Texas this week, from Temple to San Antonio, to New Braunfels to Driftwood to Austin. I’m ready to be back home in my own kitchen, in my own town.

After some days in California, where the best food I had was sushi, I found myself in Italian restaurants this week. One was for a dinner meeting with Andrew and Maureen Weissmann, who are opening an Italian place next year in San Antonio. They get it.

Unfortunately the restaurant we were at, the folks in the kitchen were trying to impress him. So they sent out plates that were jammed with too much information. Gnocchi with tomato sauce and fava beans and cheese and, and, and. Like the chef at the table said, “Just keep it fresh, simple and sourced from a quality place.”

And it is that simple. If only folks in the kitchen would get out once in a while and see what the rest of the world is doing.

Italy is constantly being caricaturized, whether it be our food, our wine, our song, our legends. And the Italians who came to America starting 100 years ago, wanting to please their new parent country, bowed and bent and danced their little jig until now what they are presenting as Italian is barely noticeable. We had quite the conversation over a bowl of ragu this week, in the home of a recent-return from living in Italy, one of the best meals I’ve had this month. But our discourse took us over the laundry list of excuses restaurateurs use to explain why they can’t cook like mama did at home.

“Our customers want more food on the plate.”
“They ask for more garlic, we don’t want to use that much.”
“We have to give them a side of spaghetti; they’ve come to expect it over the years.”

And on and on.

Odd, when I talked to chef Weissman ( at the place with the swollen plates), he simply said “ I will do it as I feel it needs to be done. I know I can’t go wrong if I stick to the truth.”

This week we had lunch at a pizzeria napolitana, the owner sat down with us. But before he did we ate. I ordered a pizza with prosciutto and arugula, one of my favorites. As the pie was being set before me I picked up a scent of truffle. From an early experience with white truffles in the 1980’s ( I basically OD’d on the smell of truffles from driving them around in my car for two days, selling them) I have an aversion to them. Or rather, I have a loathing for truffle oil that doesn’t use good quality truffles or oil. And then some kitchen cheerleader bathes a dish in the stuff, making it stink like a Virginia City whore.

My dining partner saw this look on my face. I know he was just a little bit worried. Here we are in an important account, and I'm showing phenolic pain on my face. But then a waft, the angels tail, floats up and whispers in my ear, “give it a try, make sure.” Two wonderful things happened. It was real oil, real truffles, and it was applied with a deft touch. Perfetto.

After, we’re sitting around the table tasting and talking with the owner, Doug Horn. His place, Dough, came out as need for him to deliver a product that in Italy is basic, wonderful and a necessity. And yes, I’m sure from time to time he gets folks coming in looking for a double cheese pizza with extra pepperoni. But then he gets the wandering pilgrims who just want to dip their hand in the holy water, genuflect and get a moment away from the endless missionary work.

His list is 100% Italian wines. He gets it too.

So San Antonio has hope. Austin, in this moment, under the uber-microscope of authentic Italian-ness, let’s say we need a dose of Speranza's to rouse them from their deep freeze. But that was then and times have changed.

Exactly! Times have changed. So why the big plates and the 5 times mark-up on wine and too much garlic and overcooked pasta with too much going on in the bowl? Why are we still settling for salmon and short ribs as something quintessentially Italian?

Let me say this, to anyone who have scanned down this far on the post: If you are in the wine and food business, tear out a page from Andrew Weissman’s play book, “just keep it fresh, simple and sourced from a quality place.” You can’t go wrong if you stick to the truth.

"Ohh, there must be some easier way for me to get my wings."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dark Star

Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes.

Two men looked out from prison bars: One saw mud, one saw stars.

This has been a long week. What started out as a short trip to visit family and then a run up to Napa for a three day seminar at the CIA, on the Terroir of California, well, that all changed. I would have to find my own terroir. I did, along with any number of moments that harkened back to childhood. I was going back to a place where you can never return. I just didn't know that’s why "they" were sending for me.

That place would be the California of my youth. That California no longer exists. Sitting at a wine bar in Hollywood talking among folks, who a few moments before were strangers, they asked me why wouldn’t I come back? I’d had these conversations many times before in Hollywood, in the days when I worked there. Nights in October when the jasmine filled the air with their blossoms and Southern California truly was a magical, intoxicating place. That place now is now valet-parked in the corner of my mind and it probably will never be retrieved. And even if it is discovered, who am I to lay any claim on it now? It didn’t work for Balboa; it surely won’t work for me.

Look, the California of my parent's youth seems as if it was even more treasured. If I were to reinvent California it would be in those days; quieter, less polluted, less crowded and you could get away with a lot more than now.

But that night in Hollywood, we sipped on dry-farmed, native-yeast, full-of-life wines from France, Italy and Austria. So, in effect, I had found my place once again. It wasn’t the murky, muddy backwaters of Southwestern Louisiana, no, that will come later this month, if all goes well. It wasn’t the star spewed and endless horizon place like Marfa. But for one brief moment, on a bar stool in Hollywood, I had found my sisters and brother and we were enjoying some really great wine.

Odd, here I was in what are my tribal-home grounds, LA. And I was the only native Angelino in the bunch. They came from Connecticut, Ohio, New York, and Illinois. And they were asking me why I wasn’t still living here. “I got in on the ground floor. I’m done with it now, except for these brief reunions. It’s all yours, folks.”

Sure the blue fin Toro was like nothing else I've ever had. And the back streets of the hills behind UCLA are a magical place. But I’ve been steering this craft back home all my life. I don’t reckon I’ll make it all the way to Italy. Hell, the Italy I once knew is gone too. Not a problem, the river pathway will be just fine. Somewhere down the Guadalupe’.

I do love the desert, though. Maybe it was all those years sitting on that little rock out in the vacant lot out in front of my house flying kites and staring at the mountain. I see my spirit friends, the hawks, the prairie dogs, the snakes, the lizards; they flash to me from the mountains and hills and tell me they are OK. They’re watching over things. Muchas Gracias hermanos.

Dammit, open the Pod Bay doors, Al!

Funny thing about the way it is vs. the way we want it to be. On the plane coming home yesterday I was trudging a couple of carry-ons and my hands were full. Nothing I couldn’t handle, but on the way to the seat, an older couple was struggling with getting their last carry-on up in the bin. They asked me if I could help them. Normally I am very accommodating to people and I was in this case as well. But not before I told the couple that they shouldn’t try to carry things on that they weren’t prepared to handle, that’s what checking luggage is for. The lady, perturbed that I had the audacity to challenge her good judgment in her old age, quipped back, “Just you wait till, you don’t know what it’s like. Someday you’ll be old.”

“Yes, ma’am, and when that day comes, hopefully more mature than the behavior you are exhibiting.”

As I propped their misshapen luggage into the bin, without as much as a thank you, she simply called out, “You’re an idiot!”

To which the only reply I could muster up was an effortless, “You’re welcome.”

It’s good to be home.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Big Tree

This is a defining moment all across Italy. Men with names like Alfredo, Dino, Antonio and Piero are handing over their life’s work to their sons and daughters. A lifetime, several generations worth of time and work and sweat and tears, and it all leads up to this moment. Handing over the keys of the kingdom to the next generation.

But it isn’t as simple as that. It never is. For these men are Big Trees, and the shadow that they make is daunting for the ones who follow them in succession.

Who has the hardest time of it, the man who has spent 40 or 50 years building an empire, or the daughter or son who has to find a way to grow outside of the shadow of his great effort?

Sometimes it isn’t even the simple transition from a rustic winemaking scenario to one which relies more on science and technology. Sometimes it is more about the character of the person and their presence that is almost indomitable. When that becomes more important than the wine or the land, then the tree can sap the energy of the spirit of wine.

Sometimes it is a vision thing. Whether it is in an established region like Tuscany or an up and coming one like Sicily or Puglia or Abruzzo, the personality that defines the impetus for the wine and the estate can sometimes be the overriding influence.

Then the idea of the wine gets bigger and if it gets bigger than the person that brought it into prominence, there has to be some kind of succession plan in place.

But that is often hard; the Italian child is often trained to be deferential to his parent. Then, a child in their 40’s is still responding as if they were still 8. And the wine, and the family, suffers.

The energy, while it is given its start from one person, draws from a larger wellspring of energy. And it is the difficult responsibility of the generation that follows to take the lead, to be wiser beyond their years, to take on faith where they must steer the estate and the wine into the future.

A couple of things the Big Tree must realize. Because it is large and rooted deep, the big tree cannot move with adroitness. Part of the energy of its greatness comes from making a stand, putting down roots and staking their claim.

The Big Tree casts giant shadows. Makes it hard for the little trees around to find enough sunlight to grow. Not bad in terms of survival and making sure that those who do make it out of the shadows are strong and will endure in the greater world.

Doesn’t quite sound like a walk in the park, does it?

This is nothing new. But in Italy, now, this is tipping point for many estates from Piedmont to Calabria, from Liguria to Molise, in the recalibration of the Italian wine standard. Many of the young from winemaking families have traveled the world, selling wine, making wine and learning about wine. When they come back home and see what a beautifully unique opportunity there is for them to make these one of a kind wines. Do they see it with those eyes? I sure hope so.

We don’t need anymore ill-fitting shoes, with Italian sounding names, from China. And we don’t need anymore Napa Valley Cabernets from Bolgheri.

We still need the Big Tree (and the old vines) to remind us to never disregard our essence. And we need a new generation of Big Trees, young men and women, to rise up out of the vinelands of Italy.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Terre Nere, Black Friday and Squash Blossoms

These two remind me of someone...

I was sitting on my mom’s couch watching the vintage movie Laura, starring the timeless beauty Gene Tierney, and drinking a glass of Etna Bianco, when it seemed like I slipped into one of my alternate universes. After all, here I am in Southern California, doing my National Guard duty for Dr J, who is slowly and happily getting sluiced into the vortex between Texas and Louisiana. It’s the least I could do for one of my fellow Californiano’s.

But something about the Terre Nere Bianco, a blend of Carricante, Inzolia, Grecanico and Cataratto that was such a perfect wine, I found myself gulping it. Mom had made some broccoli rabe with some fresh (and local) garlic we had gotten from the farmers market in Irvine. She also brought out some baby clams, a light meal, not quite the extravagance of last week. But that’s the wonderful thing about the wine trail; it doesn’t have to be a 5.8 on the Richter scale. A simple plate of clams, some greens and a wonderful glass of Sicilian white wine will do quite nicely, even here in So-Cal.

I have opted to shop for wine and vegetable during this Black Friday weekend. That, and catching a little sun and reflection off the Pacific Ocean. One of the perfect days on the West Coast, even while I am planning a late December sortie into Southwestern Louisiana in search of music, hot sauce and boudin. It all relates to the temperament and sensitivity of an Italian born in America from Calabresi and Siciliani.

I took my mom to a farmers market a mere 6 miles from her place. She was lamenting that at 94 she is running out of friends. You wouldn’t have known it as we walked outdoors in the cool sun. Everywhere we went, people talked to her like she was the mayor, a natural extrovert, which she disputes. Fresh squash blossoms and Satsuma oranges, I was walking in the corridors of my DNA’s childhood.

I am having a little quandary with this Sicilian winery, Terre Nere as it is called. I am wondering why I like these wines so much. And, are they spoofilated?

I’m pretty confident that, in the vineyard the grapes for these wines are proprio Siciliani, no homage to wine growing from other parts of the world. Mt Etna has its own matrix working, so that is the theme dominant in those parts.

In the winemaking process, what I am finding is one of two things, for both the white and the red wines. They have either been so deceptively well made according to some secret handshake with the wine devils. Or, they have been left to their own devices to be what they are as the wine gods have intended from day one. I truly hope it is that latter, as I am so stoked about that way these wines interface with my taste buds and seamlessly, without any hesitation, merge with my pleasure center. I am smitten, by the white, by the red, and if there is a rose, I am sure I will fall into its trance as well.

That’s all from Camp California for now. On to Paso!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Wine! New Love! New Era!

An anaphoric traipse

I was itching to open a bottle of the Novello. The first time we received Novello from Italy it must have been 1983. I filled up a truck with the whole lot of it and proceeded to drive around town, vowing not to stop until I had sold all of it. We were in Reagan’s era, interest rates were 16% and there were a lot more poor people than now. But I drove around to all the sorry little Italian spots and wrote out invoices on the spot. Finally I had 10 cases left and no one was buying. I rolled into a French Wine Bar, La Cave and asked Francois if he was interested. He must have taken pity on me. Or maybe he felt just a little pang of guilt for giving me so much grief over the container of 1978 Bordeaux that he pestered me over. I never got a penny of commission and him; well let’s say he did just fine. Anyway. The Frenchman bought more of the Italian Novello than any of the Italian places. C'est la vie.

Yesterday we popped a bottle or two and walked around the place hawking like we were selling the cure-all. Not too bad, very Merlot-esque, very fruity, a label my mother would love. What’s not to like?

Along the way I found some of the new Limoncello from Danny De Vito. By now most folks have heard about the romp De Vito and George Clooney had on The View, where they claimed they stayed up all night and drank Limoncello in preparation for their visit to the program. As it turned out, it might have been a set u p. Some enterprising merchant decided to capitalize on the notoriety and voila, Danny De Vito Limoncello was born.

One complaint. The gift pack has this kitschy ceramic decanter to go along with the product. Now anyone who has gone to the Amalfi coast knows there is a preponderance of mighty fine cermaiche. Vietri is one of the towns along the way. They even have a building for the ceramic industry, designed by none other than the famous Paolo Soleri. So it would only seem likely that some marketing genius would include the decanter as part of the product pull. Unfortunately the “ceramic” decanter is straight out of some factory in China. Mannaggia.

What else? Dr. J has been documenting last week's raiding of the wine closet. More to come? We took him and Ms. B to the Grassy knoll in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the dreadful day in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

As if we haven’t taken every solemn and tragic event and turned it inside out a group pulls up dressed in masks like JFK, Jackie and the Secret Service detail, God knows what their deal was. Straight out of a Borges dream sequence, that’s my take. Bizarre. The young ones were Non Plussed. But hey, they’re still in the fog of love. Stay in the fog, kids. As long as you can.

Before then. what? Back from Austin last week I stopped in Taylor Texas to try the BBQ at the Taylor Café. Not bad, but Louie Mueller will be my next stop in Taylor. Something about a place making BBQ and if the tea tastes like it came out of a mix, makes the whole thing suspect. Like someone might be cutting corners. Anyway, I didn’t care much for the counter talk, very throwback to the era before the one we are stepping into.

I’m not much for derisive jokes about what the new President and the new First Lady are going to do with the Rose Garden, too g.d. cynical for me. I’m a believer. I want the world to be good.

Back in Dallas we took the young ones to the Twisted Root. Dr. J might mommy blog the meal, so I don’t want to take away from that post. But the sign in the men’s bathroom was my takeaway, so I be sharing it with you.

And that leaves me with my last crop in the garden and that would be the Pequins that we harvested over the weekend. The little peppers are hotter than a two-peckered dog in a city pound, as we say in Tejas. And that is my story.

Heading to California soon, to spend some time with my 94 year old mom. We are going to Paso Robles and Palm Desert. I’m also having dinner with my film-studio bud. Forget the book deal; let’s cut straight to the movie rights, eh?

And with my mom in tow, I’m sure I’ll be mustering up the Mother of all mommy blog posts in Old California. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Moths in Search of Their Fame

Vercelli ~ early 1980's

Where have all the great Italian wine experts gone? Over the weekend I have been thinking about who represents the best of expertise in Italian wine. Who is putting the Italian wines out in front? Who isn’t first looking at their margins or how much money or fame they can garner? Who isn’t devising a strategy that includes a book as a vehicle to propel their celebrity before those who still toil in the service of the vines?

Sure there are a lot of self-proclaimed experts who would like you and me to think they have remade Italian wine, and because of their singular efforts, all is well. Well, balderdash. Living large and taking a handsome fee to regale willing participants aboard a cruise ship of their love for Italian wines, I don’t buy it.

This all comes as a result of my procrastinating this afternoon over a shelf cleaning assignment. Instead of doing that and making room for more books I ran across an old Rolodex. A card popped out, and it was as if the person whose name was on that card was trying to reach out from the other side. The card belonged to Lou Iacucci, a crusty fellow from the 1980’s, who was a real expert in Italian wine at the time. He was brash and had a healthy ego, but he also worked the floor of his store and turned many a young person, myself included, on to Italian wine. He didn’t filter me through one of his handlers and then make a 10 minute appearance to regale me with fabricated sorties from his soon to be released best seller and definitive tome on Italian wine.

No, Lou could care less about that kind of crap. He was a noodler; he was always on the lookout to hook another fish on his line. It was through Lou that I was introduced to the wonderful dessert wine Torcolato, from a young Fausto Maculan. He also pressed bottles of Mastroberardino and Hauner upon me.

Toscana ~ Porchetta Stand 1980's

I had just returned from a three month stay in Italy and had worked the harvest. I was ripe for the picking. Lou was patient with me, and he encouraged me to develop my interest in Italian wine. Through Lou I felt that I could someday begin to approach his level of understanding about Italian wines. Yes, he was a shameless self-promoter, but he made space for the rest of us to gather some of the air in the room. Today, east coast or west, there are too many self-nominated authorities who don’t see the possibility of the rest of us wanting to contribute.

Armando de Rham and Luciano Degiacomi

Last spring in San Francisco, I sat next to a young lady, who was so proud that she had been nominated for membership in the Ordine dei Cavalieri del Tartufo e dei Vini di Alba. I mentioned to her how I knew the man who founded the order and gave her my card, suggesting to her that we stay in touch; you know, synergy and all that. She never returned an e-mail.

San Benedetto del Tronto, 1984, with IWG, Toto Rao,
Charles Petronella and Guy Stout, now a Master Sommelier

I met a fellow in New York, an up and coming Italian wine expert. In what has seemed like too many emails to remember, in which he has never responded, I have finally deleted his address from my virtual Rolodex. I hear from Lou Iacucci more often than I do from some of the young lions. They don't realize we were all young lions at one time.

Pietro Berutti of La Spinona in Barbaresco with Armando de Rham

A fellow in L.A., another self-declared master of all things in relation to wines Italian, was so rude the last time after I went into his store. It seems he couldn’t understand how one of “his best customers” would know me. One of his best customers, a film studio head, just “happened” to be a friend of mine from childhood. That’s how it was possible. But these arrogant young brats all want to think that they have the exclusivity on expertise. They don’t want anyone else playing in their sandbox. Ma va'.

New York has a couple more. I get a kick out of the ones who claim they don't remember the handful of times we met, had dinner, or sat on a panel somewhere. I’m not talking about the older ones with short or long term memory issues, but again the young lions who think the trail just started up when they got on it. They self-proclaim they’re a flame when they’re but moths in search of their fame.

I have a pile of books from one of my mentors, who like Lou, has passed on. His stories were like guideposts to me. I treasure those stories, for they truly set me on the course. And while I view all this from a serene eddy in flyover country, it offers me the perspective of one who can see all this from a distance. And that puts it into focus.

All those years Lou took the road from Firenze to Siena, were constant pilgrimages back to the source of the energy. One of those trips the wine gods called him back. He didn’t take one or two trips and write a book. He drove those roads till they wore down with his incessant search for this or that little producer.

Paolo de Rham, IWG and Franceso Guintini of Selvapiana in 1984

He didn’t conspire with importer B or C to prevent restaurateurs from having access to their wines. Sure, he wanted the lions share and he often got it. In those days not many folks clamored for wines like Montevertine or Selvapiana, let alone knew about it. But if they did, he didn’t do his damnedest to prevent others from taking pleasure in them. He didn’t hog the great wines just for the sake of a bunch more money.

So as I continue to roam about the world of wine, whether it be in Italy or America, I see that some of the most important things in my cellar are my relationships with people who will understand that we are not in competition with each other, we are only in competition with that person we can become. And that becoming is in a constant state of change and refinement. But the wines and the friends make the journey so much more rewarding than any pile of money or book deal could ever promise.

Piemonte ~ 1980's

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