Understanding EU restrictions on internet marketing for wine & FIVI’s call for civil disobedience

monforte alba barolo langhe piemonteAbove: Monforte d’Alba is a village in the “Barolo” appellation. It lies in the “Langhe” hills of the “Piemonte” region. EU regulations restrict a Monforte-based producer of Barolo from mentioning “Langhe” or “Piemonte” in online and other marketing materials because of a perceived conflict with the “Langhe” and “Piemonte” appellations.

This morning, a client asked me to post on the brewing controversy in Italy over the EU’s restrictive regulation of regional references in internet marketing and other promotional media.

The story’s not exactly news: it first came to light in early October when FIVI, the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers, called for civil disobedience in the face of the restrictions.

But when Slow Food founder and activist Carlo Petrini published an online op-ed on the controversy on Friday, the story was picked up by English-language media.

Read my report here.

Op-Ed: the Venice roller suitcase ban & why it makes sense

best hotel venice grand canalWriting in a hurry this morning as I head out of Boulder on my way back to Texas.

But I did find time to post my op-ed about the Venice roller suitcase ban and why it makes sense over on the Bele Casel blog.

It’s been an incredible weekend here at the Boulder Burgundy Festival. I’ll be posting more images and notes after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanks for being here and please stay tuned…

O dem crazy sommeliers: a quick recap of yesterday’s lunch at Flagtaff House, Boulder #BBF14

better scallopIt’s been quite a ride and it ain’t over yet.

The dish above was the pairing for the Chardonnay that was poured so liberally yesterday at the amazing Flagstaff House.

I’m on my way to the “Chablis Brunch” at the über-hip Kitchen in Boulder. But I still managed to get a post up on the Boulder Burgundy Festival blog, despite a late night with the festival’s volunteer sommeliers at Pizzeria Local.

How many Master Sommeliers are here? I’ve lost count.

Check out my post today on yesterday’s “Paulée-inspired” lunch at Flagstaff House (incredible!) and stay tuned for more.

Notes from the @GuildSomm “Old & Rare” tasting, Boulder Burgundy Festival

master sommelier boulder coloradoHere are my personal highlight wines that were poured at the phenomenal “Old & Rare” tasting by the Guild of Sommeliers yesterday:

Domaine Jean Collet 2004 Chablis Valmur Grand Cru
Domaine Paul Pernot 1998 Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru
Louis Jadot 1990 Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru

I’ve just posted notes from the tasting over on the Boulder Burgundy Festival blog.

I’m about to head out for the “Paulée-inspired lunch” at the Flagstaff House.

Holy shit, right?

Stay tuned…

Boulder Burgundy Festival has begun! #BBF14

master sommeliers boulderWhat a thrill for me to get to sit in on the Guild of Sommeliers “Old and Rare” Burgundy tasting this morning, the first event of the Boulder Burgundy Festival, where I’m earning my keep as the event’s official blogger.

I’ve only had time to post a few photos and notes on the festival blog.

Check them out here… and stay tuned, more notes and images to follow tomorrow and throughout the weekend.

The first day alone has been entirely awesome, between the above-my-pay-grade wines and the lovely people I’ve met. More to follow tomorrow.

On my way to Burgundy via Boulder

robert bohr sommelierAbove: yep, I’ll be hanging with Robert Bohr and Raj Parr this weekend, drinking ridiculous Burgundy and munching on pizza at Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Patterson’s Pizzeria Locale in Boulder this weekend.

It’s a tough job but someone has to do it… tomorrow I’ll be heading to Boulder, Colorado where I’ll be attending the fourth annual Boulder Burgundy Festival.

Back story: in spring 2014, Master Sommelier and owner of Boulder Wine Merchant Brett Zimmerman (one of the nicest people in the trade) asked me to blog for his shop and for the festival.

Italy is my signora but Burgundy is my mistress. While I’m often invited to taste rare Italy, I’m rarely asked to join in tastings of upper-tier Burgundy. So you can imagine how exciting this is for me.

Here’s the schedule of events/tastings.

But the thing I’m most looking forward to is getting to hang with the amazing cast of wine characters who will be in attendance.

The festival begins tomorrow and I’ll be posting throughout the weekend on the tastings and meals.

Thanks for being here and please stay tuned!

Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 Asili & Tracie P’s ragù for brother Tad

best barbaresco 2005 asiliIt’s not every day that we get to visit with my older brother Tad, who still lives in the same neighborhood in La Jolla, CA where we grew up.

So when we sat down to dinner last night with Tad and cousins Joanne and Marty, I pulled all the stops corks: Bele Casel Prosecco Colfòndo, Camossi Franciacorta rosé, Borgo del Tiglio 2011 Collio (blend), and Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 Barbaresco Asili.

The Asili, which I opened about 20 minutes before serving it (I did not decant), was rich and powerful in the glass, with dark red fruit becoming brighter and brighter as the wine aerated.

best ragu recipe meat sauce pastaThis wine has many years ahead of it but I was pleasantly surprised at how approachable it was after just ten minutes. And even in this warmer vintage for Barbaresco (one of the infamous “American” harvests from the aughts), the acidity in this wine was electric.

It paired beautifully with Tracie P’s ragù (above), which she served over rigatoni.

On a very chilly night in Houston, Asili and the bolognese filled the house with wonderful, cozy aromas.

brother tadThat’s brother Tad with Georgia P this morning after breakfast.

It was such a treat to have him here. He’s on his way to Austin later today and then to southern Texas for work (he’s an education expert and consultant).

And it was such a joy to watch him interact with the girls, who couldn’t quite figure out why he looks so much like their dad!

Thanks again, brother, for being here.

It meant the world to us. Travel safe…

Do Bianchi Thanksgiving Six-Pack 2014

I regret that the Thanksgiving 2014 Six-Pack is entirely sold out. Thanks, everyone, for your support!

If you’d like to join my mailing list for future Do Bianchi six-pack offerings, please click here (I’ll be doing another one mid-December for the Christmas holiday).

My Thanksgiving 2014 Six-Pack is almost sold out but there are still a few left. To order please just click the link below to email me.

Thanks for your support…

E buon weekend, yall!

Above: this year’s six-pack includes the 1999 Bonci Verdicchio, one of the most stunning wines I’ve tasted this year. Old white wine? It’s what makes our world go around at the Parzen household!

Bele Casel NV Prosecco Colfòndo
Bonci 1999 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Le Case Riserva
Ronco del Gelso 2012 Isonzo Bianco Latimis
Caprari NV Lambrusco Reggiano Colcer
Fatalone 2005 Gioia del Colle Primitivo Riserva
Produttori di Carema 2009/2010 Nebbiolo Classico

$125 plus shipping & handling
($21 average bottle price)


Wines will ship via FedEx on Wednesday of next week
in time for delivery before the holiday.

California residents only.

I regret that I no longer accept AMEX.
But you can pay by Visa, MC, check or Chase QuickPay.

Just as in years past, my Do Bianchi Thanksgiving Six-Pack offering is made up of wines that Tracie P and I actually drink ourselves.

I’m particularly excited about this year’s Thanksgiving offering because it includes a couple of wines “with some age on them.”

The 1999 Bonci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, in particular, is one of the most stunning wines I’ve tasted this year and I managed to get it at a low enough price that I could include it here.

And just as in years past, the wines are ordered as I recommend serving them with your Thanksgiving meal. I put the 1999 Verdicchio at the beginning because I feel it should be served early, when palates are still fresh. It’s still youthful in its evolution but it’s also very light and nuanced. Try not to serve it too cold.

Thanks in advance for your support! And happy Thanksgiving! My notes on the wines follow…

Continue reading

Truffles like pennies from heaven paired with 04 Giacosa @TonyVallone

From the department of “nice work if you can get it”…

alba truffles best priceWhen a Texas wine colleague suggested that we have dinner at Tony’s last night, I knew it would be a great experience as always. But I had no idea that Tony — my dear friend and client — would treat us like pashas.

The truffles are so good this year: the rainy, cool summer in Langa (Piedmont) delivered a generous bounty.

When the waiter presented and remove the lid from the rice-lined truffle dome, it was as if a cartoon smoke hand gestured toward me saying, “come hither!”

I’ve had the great fortune over the years to taste Alba truffles on many occasions but this is definitely a stand-out crop, with powerful aromatic character and rich flavor.

Tony served them over a dish of homemade taglierini tossed in Parmigiano Reggiano.

And what better to pair them with than ten-year-old Giacosa Barolo Croera di La Morra (below), a wine from a great vintage when Bruno Giacosa was still working closely with Dante Scaglione. It showed beautifully imho and has many years ahead of it.

Tony, my goodness, thank you! You are too generous! That was one of the best meals of my year… unforgettable! Thank you!

giacosa 2004 white label barolo