Friday, July 18, 2014

In pursuit of the (Italian) American dream

..and other tales told while riding inside the sommambulance

I keep having this dream over and over again. I’m in a restaurant. Pretty paintings on the wall, Bocelli crooning though the speakers, the lights are low. The waiter comes to seat me. He puts me in a corner and brings me a menu and a basket of hot steamy bread.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Dear John Letter to Moscato

It was bound to happen sooner or later. This was never meant to be forever. It’s 3AM and I don’t even know where to send this, you’re not at home. You haven’t been home in ages. You’re on the constant prowl, looking for new places, new people, new conquests. You don’t need me anymore. And quite frankly, I have moved beyond you, little Miss Moscato.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bursting the Bubble - The Battle for the Luxury Sparkling Wine Market

July. Slow period. Vacations. Nothing much happening. Right?

If you think this is the case, then go right ahead. But right now major campaigns have been launched to capture a share of the lucrative sparkling wine market. I came across two wineries with similar looks to their rebranding efforts. It got me to thinking, “What is going on here?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

John the Apostle Talks with Jesus: on Water, Natural Winemaking and Large Gatherings

One of the most misunderstood winemakers in all of time is Jesus Christ. After his miracle at the marriage feast of Cana, criticisms of his wine style stirred the temple. Jesus, a man born to love, was reviled. But what about his wine? Was it the ultimate supernatural wine?

Jesus’ mercurial behavior, like the time he went ballistic in the marketplace, have contributed to his reputation as a flesh and blood being, only to be balanced with the events at Cana and subsequent actions with Lazarus.

Criticism of Jesus seems to outpace his actions, many of which have changed history. Denial of his importance in the world of wine and natural winemaking, especially, was common throughout the Roman Empire. After winemaking shifted to Italy, it was as if Jesus the winemaker never existed.

Monday, June 30, 2014

When a DOCG isn't a DOCG - and when that's not enough

Thursday, June 26, 2014

“We have become accustomed to constant change and instant boredom.”

"The business of wine buying is being handed over to a bunch of fireflies and their life span matches their attention span. It’s no longer about good or even great wines. It’s all about the next wine. Forget about the last wine, even if it was a quixotically unpronounceable and profoundly delicious wine like Txakoli."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sex and the Cittadella

From the "You've come a long way, baby" Dept. of Satirical Prognostication

One of the wonderful aspects about writing about Italian wine, life and culture lies in the Italians ability to stir things up. I might get tired of writing this wine blog (or wine blogs in general) but I never tire of the Italian sense of keeping things interesting.

In this recent case, I was sitting at a dinner table with friends, one who is a winemaker in Tuscany. This person had just gotten an email about a recent promotion for Chianti Classico in a convent in Radda. The accompanying image was in stark contrast to the normally secular interpretation one gives to a religious house. It appears the Chianti Classico Consortium has been involved in the restoration of the (former) convent of Santa Maria al Prato for ten years. The newly named “House of Chianti Classico” will have educational events, cooking courses, art, music and other events in which to showcase the wines of Chianti Classico. I’m good with all of this.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Do Americans love and drink Italian wines more than Italians?

There is a pattern I have noticed lately when talking to Italian winemakers about their production and where they send their wine. That is, the domestic market for selling Italian wine (in Italy) is a mangled mess.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How to bring your Italian wine to the American market

No matter which party is dominant in Washington, no matter if the Dow is 16,000 or 1,600, no matter if we are in an unpopular war somewhere in the world, no matter if it all seems like the earth is a big fat match getting ready to be struck on the side of the matchbox, no matter – people want to sell their Italian wine to America. The dream of America is still alive in Italy. Let’s take a look at some of the routes to market.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

When Wine Experts Aren’t Always Right

I’m sitting at my table with a dear old friend. We’ve traveled around Italy, France, California. You name it, we’ve been there. If you live long enough, it can happen.

Tonight, though, we’re at home. Or rather, I am. He’s still 250 miles from his bed and his pillow and he has a 10PM appointment with a bunch of young sommeliers to talk about and taste Bordeaux wines. Yes, we’re lifers.

So, I talk to him about something that we witnessed last week in California. Long story short- we were judges at the state fair in California and to warm up our palates, our hosts sent us ( all 73 of us) a glass of something and asked us to identify it. No clue as to where it came from. Nothing.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

California Wine Report ~ 1st Rosé of the Season ~ Everything Starts Over @ 100

Celebrating 100 years, before flying to Dallas, with a glass of Provence Rosé
This past week, the wine trail had me in home state of California judging State Fair Wine Competition. When the week ended I flew down to Newport Beach to pick up my mom, who just turned 100, and we headed back to Dallas for another round of celebrations. Wine bloggers have their weaknesses - @dobianchi has his baby girls, Georgia and Lila Jane and @HawkWakaWaka has Jr, @Steve! has his Gus and @Hosemaster has his Lo Hai Qu. I have a centenarian mom who walks faster than me and as I write this, I’m trying to figure out how to tire her out so I can take a nap! Good luck with that. Wine blogging might be dead, but wine blogger’s moms, at least this one; she isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

At the airport we had an hour or so, and we shared some of the new rosé of the season, the 2013 Domaines Ott from Provence. I had just found out from a DNA report that my mom is related to Marie Antoinette (and my dad is related to Napoleon Bonaparte!) so we celebrated 100 years with a glass of French wine before we got on the plane to Dallas. Mom says she doesn't remember having rosé wine recently. "Everything starts over @100", I once heard.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

In Praise of Funky Wine

or, 7 ways to keep squirrels from drinking your wine

Sacramento, California – I am sequestered these past two days with 70+ wine experts for the annual California State Fair Wine Competition. My Italian connection has given me wines from California made with Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, along with Zinfandel, red Italian-esque blends (SuperTuscans), Carignan and white Rhone varietal blends.

A couple of things right up front. While I learned to drink wine growing up in California, my palate has migrated towards Italian (and European) wines. That said, I am not against California wines. Far from it. But I believe I do pass wine through the filters of my preconceptions (as we all do, all of us, except maybe Dan Berger).

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Merlot, the most hated grape 10 years running, finds a home in Italy (and in my heart)

It doesn’t seem that long, but in 2004 the movie Sideways was released. In the film, Pinot Noir was lionized, and to this day, the sales of Pinot Noir are still roaring. Merlot, on the other hand, was excoriated. The character Miles had a famous line in which he said, “If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any f***ing Merlot!” Ironically, the last wine he was seen drinking at the end of the movie was a Cheval Blanc 1961, which is a blend, predominantly, of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

I am one of those people who disavowed any allegiance to Merlot. I shunned it; I avoided it at all costs. I refrained from drinking it. I loathed it. Or so I thought.

Friday, May 30, 2014

My (Oh, So Superior) Wine vs. Your (So-So) Wine

Three weeks on the road, driving across Texas - Dallas to Houston to San Antonio to Austin to Dallas - there has been time to talk in the car with my travel mates. We go into a city and see clients, and then get in the car and head to another city. In and out. Over time patterns emerge. Here is what I have seen in these days.

Whether the person you are going to see is a seasoned veteran or a new-on-the-scene wine buyer, they all have opinions. If they are older, they often have a punch list of preferences by which they evaluate the Italian wines we are setting in front of them. If they are the new crop, they too have their list. How the two different types fill out their list is quite different.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

7 Questions about Italy, Wine and Passion

A few months ago on Antonio Galloni’s Vinous “Your Say” site, there was some lively conversation when Monica Larner showed up. She peeked in and said hello and some of the folks were off to find their pitchforks and machetes, whereby she ducked back out, never to be heard from again in that chat room. Pity, because I think highly of Monica. But I definitely understand when one is made to feel unwelcome by some of the members. Organizations, families and the like aren’t always comprised of people who play nice. Sometimes they hurt.

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