Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Burgundization of Barolo - An Imminent Sea Change in the Langhe

This past week in New York, I sat down in front of a microphone with Levi Dalton. And talked. And talked. Not so easy for this born-again introvert. In particular, Levi asked me what changes I’ve seen in the Langhe over the last 30 years. That podcast is available here. And while my interview deals more with my Pollyanna version of history, it feels, on the ground in the Langhe, like an impending change is on the horizon.

A week or so before, he asked a similar question to Antonio Galloni (that podcast here), who has been going there since 1997. Antonio expressed concern that the wines and the social climate of Barolo (and Barbaresco) might be shifting towards the more exclusive and limited (and expensive) world of wine in which Burgundy finds itself. Not at all the least because both of these wine producing areas are rather small compared to Bordeaux or Napa Valley. But the tendency for wealthy collectors to gravitate towards the rare and unobtainable is something we probably won’t see going away, unless there is a worldwide pandemic. At which point, who will care about wine of any kind?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Italy declares war against … radical Prosecco

The heart of Europe is marching in Paris today in solidarity against the horrendous atrocities witnessed in the City of Lights this week. Italian politicians are waging their own smaller war – against Prosecco on tap.

And while this might seem minute in comparison to more important events unfolding in Europe, this is our smaller march on the wine trail in Italy today.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

5 Italian Wine Regions to Watch in 2015

Italy with her endless array of wines and wine styles is poised for a resurgence. The wine business is relatively healthy driven by the big movers, Chianti, Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. And the fringe wines are picking up momentum, the col fondo, orange and barrique-free ones.

What does that mean to this crystal ball gazer on the Blackland Prairie? The buffalos have long disappeared, as have the anthropophagic bipeds that once roamed these lands. Replaced by Escalades driven by soccer moms, the envisagement within the murky sphere points to Italy. And this is what I see.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 10 posts for 2014 and direction for 2015 ~ Year 10 of blogging on the Wine Trail in Italy

2014 has been a year in which I have done the least amount of blog posts since I started this blog on this day nine years ago. On the positive side, this has been part of a plan to produce less but to raise the quality of the writing. When I first started this blog (on this day 9 years ago) I sought to write three blog posts a week. About four years ago I made the conscious decision to narrow that down to two posts a week. Now I have taken it down to one a week. Is writing fatigue the problem? Hardly. I am writing in other places (and being compensated for it) and I have taken on more responsibilities in my work.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunrise, Sunset ~ Life and Death on the Wine Trail

How wonderful this world of wine can be, if only in our mind’s eye. Earlier this month I was leaving wine country in California, heading back to the airport. It was early morning, the dew on the vines twinkled like Christmas lights. There was a dense but beautiful fog that isolated figures in the landscape. One of the old majestic eucalyptus trees, a farm house, a fruit stand, a tractor. It was was so deliciously lovely that I almost stopped my car to take some pictures. There was this unforgettable fog caressing the foothills, leaving Yountville and heading south on Hwy 29. I don’t know why I didn’t take the time to stop.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What New World Sommeliers Need to Know About Old World Italian Wine

This came up last week over a bottle of Nebbiolo. I was in discussion with industry folk and the Old World/New World subject came up. With a recent surge of young people into the world of wine and with many of them advancing up the ranks of the business, especially on the floors of restaurants, someone asked me what I thought were the key markers for the new crop and asked for suggestions that they might implement for a happy, healthy and meaningful career in the wine business, especially in the Italian wine list-making department.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Wine After Death

Bibere umanum est, ergo bibamus

He knew her early on. Every year or so they’d meet, usually around a dinner table, sometimes with friends or family. He met her when they were both young and fell for her right then and there. He never considered that she would have others elsewhere who felt the same as he. Poor old Mario, she always made him feel like he was the only one.

That’s what you think when you are full of the imperviousness of youth. Like a new wine; bracing, often rough around the edges, but so full and ready to jump in.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fruit-Bomb

Last month I was communicating half-way across earth to New Zealand with my editor at Wine Searcher. We were going over ideas for a feature. Kicking around a few thoughts on Amarone, she casually suggested that it would be better if to write about something that I liked. I don’t know what it was in my emails that she caught on to, but it must have seemed like “Big Red” wasn’t my favorite Italian wine. I reassured her that I could write about Amarone like I enjoyed it. And then I went to work trying to figure out if I liked Amarone or not.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Our Selfies, Our Wines

Can a wine cellar full of 90+ point wines make your life more meaningful? Will a 30+ year vertical tasting of an iconic wine make you happier? Could any wine make one’s life better? If you believe what you read and see on the eno-blogosphere, you might think that your life isn’t complete if you haven’t had these singular experiences.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Last Parmigiana

Looking out my back window, I see all the plants that were alive last week are now dead or dying. Winter has arrived. Before the brutal but inevitable onslaught arrived, I gathered all the last of the eggplants that were hanging. Some were ready, some were not. They were all harvested; gathered for one last Parmigiana of the season.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pippo, We Hardly Knew Ye: In Memory of Philip di Belardino

The world is a little less safe for Italian wine today. Dear friend Philip di Belardino has left us.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Annus Horribilis - Looking Back On the Toughest Harvest in Years

It must have been back in August. I was looking out over my garden, thinking about how wonderful everything was growing. My prize crop, the Hoja Santa, was poised to be one of the best and largest harvests I’d had in 10 years. Picture perfect. Rain when we needed it. Never enough, but Hoja Santa was used to living in the Southwest.

And then the hail storm hit. It was on a Sunday night in September. I heard a light rain, and then a heavier rain came. By the time I got up, I could hear a light tapping on the roof. Hail. I prayed it wouldn’t last too long. It didn’t. But it lasted long enough to lay waste to my prized crop.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Opposites Attract ~ My Evening with Fettuccine Bolognese, Sous Vide Steak and Mittelmosel Riesling

Silly rules. Someone makes up something about which wine with which food and over time it becomes Gospel.

Last night I was at a dinner, sipping on a white wine. I thought to myself, “This needs a little more acid, a little more peach and a little more lemon for it to be just right.” The wine was a Sauvignon Blanc from Napa. What I really wanted it to be was a Riesling from the Mosel.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Serene Patch of Merlot in a Noisy World of Pinot Noir

His is a world very few of us get to enter. Yet the Count lives, some would say he thrives, in his world. I say it this way not to disparage his world. I know not his world. I only know him through his wine. And his wine is Merlot.

One might say, “Merlot? In these times? How 20th century.” And you might be right. For we live in another time for another wine. Right now it might be the time of Pinot Noir. But when the Count redid his vineyards he didn’t know about Sideways and the effect it would have on American tastes. The Count is a Venetian. He lives in an ancient villa, dines every Friday night at Harry’s. Not the Harry’s we tourists know, but the Harry’s for the Venetian insiders. The Count is definitely a Venetian insider.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

When Wine Isn’t Enough

We all have things that propel us forward. For some it is money, power or fame. Even in our little rarefied world of wine, we all have those reference points that give us meaning. Maybe it is a good vintage. Maybe it is finally making Sangiovese taste like Sangiovese. Maybe it is getting to a point where one’s influence is felt outside of one’s own sphere. Whatever it is, our search for meaning on this orb takes up the better part of our life after we have figured out how to get the basics taken care of. Mind you, these are first world issues. In most of the world, folks are trying to find potable water, a dry place to sleep and maybe enough food to get through the night without feeling the gnaw of hunger.

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