Barbaresco, fried chicken, and keyboards

Morris “Mars” Chevrolet flew in last night with his Nord and Moog and so Tracie P fried up some chicken, mashed some potatoes, and sautéed some broccoli raab and I popped a bottle of 2006 Barbaresco by Produttori del Barbaresco.

You’ve heard me say it before: I am truly blessed to have such a loving and beautiful wife, so generous in spirit, and so supportive of my music. She’s been cooking up a storm, feeding the band, and enjoying the music as we have transformed our little slice of heaven on the corner of Alegria [happiness] and Gro[o]ver into a recording studio. The fried chicken was delicious.

The 06 Produttori del Barbaresco — a wine and vintage much discussed here on the blog — was a little tight last night, even after a few hours of aeration. Seems like it’s closing up a little bit and so maybe it’s time to cellar (following its initial brightness and generosity of fruit).

But the “music is flowing… amazing… and blowing my way”… who knows the song? It’s one of my favs.

Tomrrow’s the big day with the whole outfit in the studio… and so now it’s time to get back to tracking!

Bombe glacé and 2006 Brunello on my mind…

Just had to share this image of an incredible bombe glacé, captured last night at Tony’s in Houston where I had dinner with a colleague, newfound friend and fellow Italophile.

In other news…

Franco’s first impressions from Benvenuto Brunello, fresh off the presses and translated by yours truly…

2006 Produttori del Barbaresco: an important clarification from Aldo Vacca

From the “department of keeping the world safe for Italian wine”…

aldo vacca

Above: I tasted with winemaker Aldo Vacca at Produttori del Barbaresco in March 2010. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am one of the wineries hugest fans.

Reader Ken wrote me a private message recently, asking if I’d seen an email blast from a New York retailer in which the author claimed that there had been two bottlings of Produttori del Barbaresco classic Barbaresco 2006 — one made before the decision not to bottles the 06 crus (and thus not including the single-vineyard juice) and one made after the decision not to bottle the 06 crus (and thus containing the higher-quality single-vineyard juice).

“If there has, in fact, been a second release that now has included the single-vineyard grapes,” he asked plaintively, “how on earth can anyone distinguish the bottles?

“I’ve cut and pasted a recent e-mail from [a highly respected New York retailer] and highlighted the statement about a second release. I’ve collected a ton of the blended 05′s for cellaring and have only a couple of the blended 06s, which got initially reviewed (by fellow Cellar Trackers) as a ‘drink early.’”

    The news, if you haven’t heard it: for the 2006 vintage the Produttori have decided not to bottle any of their single-vineyard Barbaresco Riservas. Aldo Vacca, manager of the Produttori, describes this [SEE THIS POST] as a business decision that was not based on the very high quality of the wines, but instead because there have been so many strong vintages in a row (basically 2004-2009) that they were concerned that there would be too much wine on the market. The wines were vinified and aged separately as per their normal practice; following an initial release of the 2006 Barbaresco (which was a terrific bottle at the time), all of the Riservas have now been blended together to produce just one wine.

Yesterday afternoon I wrote to Aldo, who promptly responded with the following message:

    What happened is that we took the final decision not to produce the 2006 S[ingle]V[ineyard] one year later than usual, in the spring of 2009. At that point the first bottling of 2006 was already done so no SV in the first bottling. However this is the bottling that we release every year in Italy in the early Fall, so it is largely used for domestic market.

    Second bottling was done in July and then a third bottling in the Fall. These two bottlings were a blend of SV juice and standard Barbaresco juice in very similar %. The wine you can buy in the States now is from the 2nd bottling and later this year will be from the 3rd, so very similar indeed.

So the bottom line is that there was indeed two bottlings, one without the crus and one with the crus (the former sold in Italy, the latter available in the U.S.). But if you’re buying the wine in the U.S., you’re getting wines that include the crus.

To this I would add that 2006 is not a forgettable vintage, as some of Ken’s Cellar Tracker buddies might insist. In fact, it was a good-to-great vintage (05 very-good-to-great, 07 FANTASTIC). IMHO 06 is best to drink 2011-2016 and beyond (but keep in mind that I’m a believer that these wines are to be drunk younger than most American fetishizers of old wine would tell you).

Remembering our wedding day at Jaynes

After picking up Tracie P at the airport (on what was a no less than “Top Gun” gorgeous San Diego day), we headed to Jaynes for dinner: we hadn’t been at Jaynes together since our wedding day in January and so it was so fun to remember all the great moments! Tracie P had a Campari and soda to start (possibly her fav cocktail).

We opened some great bottles last night but one of the most fun was this bottle of 2006 Arnaud Ente Bourgogne Blanc, drinking so beautifully right now, a guilty-pleasure wine that Jayne and Jon carry on their menu and that we served, among others, at our wedding reception there. It’s one of those wines that prompts the question: why does new oak seem to work so perfectly in Burgundy when it fails so miserably in other wine-making regions we love? (With its wax seal, deep punt, and heavy glass, this wine has a very “naughty bottle” as Jancis Robinson might say.)

Thanks again, Jayne and Jon: you couldn’t have created a more perfect wedding reception for Tracie P and me.

And thank you Tracie P, for being such a beautiful bride, such a loving wife, and such a gorgeous and generous soul. What a wonderful memory and what an amazing day that was. You couldn’t make this adoptive Texas boy more happy. I love you…

Happy mother’s day, ya’ll!

More on Produttori del Barbaresco’s decision not to bottle their 2006 crus

Thor, a wine writer and blogger whom I greatly admire and an all-around mensch, wrote the other day to winemaker Aldo Vacca (left) inquiring about his decision not to bottle his 2006 crus. Thor was kind enough to share Aldo’s response and Aldo was kind enough to allow me to post it here.

Technical reason: 2006 is a very good vintage, but warm and ripe, lacking a little bit of the finesse and complexity to make a truly great S[ingle]V[ineyard wine] and yet preserve excellent quality in the regular bottling. We think 2005, lighter in body, has more fruit and balance, at least in Barbaresco and at least for Produttori.

Marketing: with the current economy we thought it more appropriate to produce a larger quantity of solid, extremely good 2006 Barbaresco avoiding a flooding of the market with too many SV wines, since 2007, 2008, 2009 will all be produced. Had 2007 or 2008 been bad vintages, we would have released 2006 SV, but since we have so many great ones, we felt we could skip one and stay on the safe side of the fence.

—Aldo Vacca

Drinking great at the G8? No great moment in history without Spumante

tony the tigerYou might remember my post White, Green, and Red All Over: Obama to eat patriotic pasta at G8 from a month ago. The G8 summit began today in L’Aquila in Abruzzo and the Italian press is relishing the Obamas’s every move with great gusto.

As Franco pointed out today at Vino al Vino, there was even a post today at the ANSA (National Italian Press Association Agency) site that includes not only the official schedule for today but also the official bottles of wine and spirits to be given to Italy’s “illustrious” guests. G8 members will receive a “magnum of Amarone Aneri 2003 in a wooden box on which the initials of each of the presidents or prime ministers present has been engraved. All official lunches will begin with a toast with Ferrari spumante, [a wine] which is never missing at great appointments with history [sic; can you believe that?]. As an official gift for the illustrious guests, a highly rare ‘Ferrari Perle’ Nerò has been chosen [sic; the wine is actually called Perlé Nero], together with ‘Solera’ Grappa by the Segnana distillery. 1-3 p.m.: working G8 lunch on global economy.” (The post at ANSA’s English-language site did not include the wines or plugs.)

The American press doesn’t seem to be taking the G8 Summit and Silvio Berlusconi’s carefully choreographed hospitality as seriously as the Italian press corps. “Inexcusably lax planning by the host government, Italy, and the political weakness of many of the leaders attending, leave little room for optimism,” wrote the editors of The New York Times today.

With more humble tone, I was forwarded an email from the Dino Illuminati winery announcing that one of its wines had been chosen as the official wine for the luncheon and another for the closing dinner tomorrow. “We are sure You’ll like to enjoy,” it read, “the very good news with us: Our wine ZANNA Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG 2006 has been choiced as official red wine for the G 8 lunch of Wednesday July, 08. Besides, our wine LORE’ ‘Muffa Nobile’ will be the dessert wine for the G 8 dinner of Thursday July, 09.”

I guess Dino didn’t make the ANSA deadline.

In other news…

Check out our post today at VinoWire: Barbaresco producers speak out on Giacosa’s decision not to bottle his 2006. Giacosa claims that the rains of September ruined the vintage but our post reveals other points of view.

Barbaresco and Barolo producers respond to negative reports in English-speaking press

Please read my translation of a press release issued just moments ago by the Barbaresco and Barolo producers associations.

I’m running out the door to do an Italian wine seminar in San Antonio (why do these things always get scheduled for the morning???!!!) and I will post more on this later — an issue that commands every Nebbiolophile’s attention!

In other news…

Today is Alice’s birthday. Happy birthday, Alice!

It’s also Randy’s birthday. Happy birthday Rev. B! (We all celebrated with him at his church yesterday in Orange). :-)

I had a great time in Orange for 4th of July weekend. Thanks again!

Giacosa responds to Ziliani

Giacosa 2006

Above: Tracie B and I tasted the 2006 Nebbiolo d’Alba and 2006 Barbera d’Alba by Bruno Giacosa the other night with our friend and top Austin sommelier Mark Sayre. We all agreed that the wines showed beautifully. (photo by Tracie B).

Today, on his blog, Franco has posted a message he received from the Giacosa winery, signed by Bruno and Bruna Giacosa. My translation of the letter follows. The message was sent in response to Franco’s recent post on “the events surrounding Dante Scaglione” (see below).

    Dear Mr. Franco Ziliani,

    A few months ago, when it was decided (and certainly not without a heavy heart but after many tastings) that our 2006 vintage of Barolo and Barbaresco would not be bottled, no one thought that such a decision could give rise to so much controversy on behalf of certain persons.

    We believe that it is the full right of a winery to choose its own strategy with complete autonomy and serenity, especially when with the aim of maintaining the high level of quality of the winery’s products.

    In doing so, we had absolutely no intention to denigrate or demonize the 2006 vintage in general. We are sure that many wineries will put excellent products on the market. But in our opinion, the Giacosa winery’s 2006 wines — even though good in quality and entirely respectable — do not reach the excellence in quality to which our clients are accustomed.

    In regard to events surrounding Dante Scaglione, no one has ever dared to question his technical abilities. We all admire him and recognize what he has done as our able collaborator.

    We hope that we have definitively clarified any doubts in this regard because much has been said and much has been written — perhaps too much — often without deep-reaching knowledge of all of the details, especially with regard to the relationship between the winery and its collaborators. It is best for certain details to remain within the confines of “domestic walls.”

    Looking forward to the future, we hope to receive you soon as our guest at the winery to taste the new vintages of Barolo and Barbaresco together. It would be our pleasure.

    Best wishes, Bruno and Bruna Giacosa

Tasted: 2006 Giacosa Nebbiolo d’Alba

bruno giacosa

Above: Tracie B has a deft and steady hand with my little Sony Cyber-Shot camera. She snapped this pic last night as we tasted 06 Barbera and 06 Nebbiolo d’Alba by Bruno Giacosa with Mark Sayre — aka the Houston Coalminer, one of Austin’s top palates — at Trio in Austin.

“Giacosa’s 2006 Barbera d’Alba Superiore Falletto was the best he’s ever made,” friend and collector David Schachter told me when I called him yesterday, asking him to refresh my memory on the wine we had tasted together last year. He and I tasted a lot of Giacosa from his impressive collection last year and he knows the wines intimately.

giacosa

Above: Ex-winemaker and Giacosa protégé Dante Scaglione with daughter Bruna Giacosa and winemaker Bruno Giacosa in 2004. In March 2008, Dante left the winery.

Last night, Tracie B and I tasted the 2006 Barbera d’Alba (the blended Barbera, not the single-vineyard Falletto) and the 2006 Nebbiolo d’Alba by Giacosa with top Austin sommelier Mark Sayre: we agreed that, while the vintage may not have been the best for everyone, Giacosa’s 2006 was outstanding.

bruno giacosa

So, why did Giacosa decide not to bottle his 2006 Barolo and Barbaresco? The plot thickens: read Franco’s editorial at VinoWire.

On deck for tomorrow: the second of 31 Days of Natural Wine at Saignée.

Mourvèdre envy (and more on Giacosa)

Mourvèdre envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a wine lover during her or his oenological development to the realization that she or he does not have access to old Bandol. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in the development of palate and oenological identity. According to Freud, the parallel reaction in those who have access to old Mourvèdre is the realization that others have access to old Nebbiolo, a condition known as Nebbiolo anxiety.

Above: Tracie B and I drank the current vintage of Tempier Bandol Rosé — made from Mourvèdre — by the glass with our excellent housemade sausage tacos at the Linkery in San Diego. Jay Porter’s farm-to-table menu and his homemade cruvinet are hugely popular. The food is always fun and tasty. Jay was one of the first San Diego restaurateurs to use a blog to market his restaurant.

Tracie B and I have had our share of great Mourvèdre lately: we were blown away by the flight of old Terrebrune Bandol — rosé and red — we got to taste last month in San Francisco at the Kermit Lynch portfolio tasting. As the Italians might say, we’re “Mourvèdre addicted.”

Above: Jayne and Jon serve Terrebrune Bandol Rosé in half-bottles at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego — a great summer aperitif wine and a fantastic pairing with Chef Daniel’s scallop ceviche. I was first hipped to Terrebrune by BrooklynGuy: it shows impressive character and structure and costs a lot less than Tempier.

So you can imagine how I began to salivate like Pavlov’s dog when I read BrooklynGuy’s recent post on a bottle of 1994 Tempier Rouge that he had been saving. Like Produttori del Barbaresco, Tempier represents a great value and the current release of the red is generally available at about $50 retail — the upper end of my price point ceiling. In other words, it’s a wine that even the modest wine collector can invest in with fantastic results. Despite the acute case of Mourvèdre envy that he gave me, I really liked BrooklynGuy’s profile of this “natural wine” producer and his tasting notes.

Nota bene: BrooklynGuy and I are both slated to appear in Saignée’s 31 Days of Natural Wine series. My post is schedule for June 20 and you might be surprised at what I had to say. Thanks again, Cory! I’m thrilled to get to participate with so many fantastic bloggers and writers.

In other news…

Above: That’s my lunch yesterday at Bryce’s Cafeteria in Texarkana on the Texas-Arkansas border. Chicken fried chicken steak and tomato aspic stuffed with mayonnaise. Tracie B is gonna kill me if that gravy doesn’t… They sure are proud of their tomatoes in Arkansas and tomato season has nearly arrived.

So many blogs and so little time… I’m on my way back to Austin from Arkansas (where I’ve been hawking wine) and I wish I had time to translate Franco’s post on Bruno Giacosa’s decision not to bottle his 2006 Barolo and Barbaresco, the infelicitous manner in which the news was announced by the winery, and how the news was subsequently disseminated. Upon reading Decanter’s sloppy cut-and-paste job, one prominent wine blogger tweeted “note to self, don’t buy 2006 Barbaresco.” My plea to all: please know that 2006 is a good if not great vintage in Langa and please, please, please, read betweet the lines…