Two favorite white wines for summer (and the ultimate sushi wine?)

August 13, 2010

Above: Tracie P and I have been enjoying a lot of my number-two white wine of the summer of 2010, the Clos Roche Blanche 2008 Sauvignon Blanche No. 2 (does anyone know why it’s called “numéro 2″?).

Chez Parzen, we’ve been enjoying a lot of great wine this summer but two white wines have really stood out. And when I say “favorite white wines for summer,” I mean wines that we keep coming back to over and over again.

Alice first turned me on to the wines of Clos Roche Blanche five years ago in NYC and I was immediately hooked on Cot.

BrooklynGuy is also a fan of the Sauvignon Blanc: check out this tough-love post he did last year around this time.

Here in Texas, we’re still drinking the 2008 and it’s showing great, so fresh, such pure white fruit (pear and apple) in it, great acidity, low alcohol, and under $20 at The Austin Wine Merchant. Summer time means a lot of salad and canned tuna in olive oil, pasta al pomodoro, and fresh cheeses. I just love drinking this wine, as we did last night, with tomato sauce.

Just looking at the color, above, makes me wanna slurp it up!

Above: The 2008 Santorini from Boutari, made from 100% Assyrtiko grapes, has a slightly oxidative thing going on. I think the gods made this wine just for me and Tracie P.

Anyone who’s been following Do Bianchi this year knows that I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the wines of Santorini. (Check out the thread here.)

I was hired this year to create content for the Boutari Social Media Project and one of the best things about the gig is how much great wine I’ve got to try for the first time: I’ve been loving Santorini by Sigalas and Gaia (both available in this country but not yet in Texas, although Sigalas is coming). But the wine Tracie P and I keep coming back to over and over again is the Boutari 2008 Santorini (also available for under $20 at The Austin Wine Merchant).

Tracie P put it best when she said it’s so mineral that “it’s like drinking seawater.” It’s salty and has a rich mouthfeel, a grainy texture that I can’t get enough of, the alcohol is well balanced in the wine, and it has that slightly oxidative note that we dig (and might even have aphrodisiacal properties where familiar matters are concerned).

Boutari’s Santorini and Santorini in general may very well be the perfect sushi wine. Remember when Aldo paired Gaia Santorini Thalassitis with raw sea urchin for me at Le Bernardin?

Santorini is such a fascinating appellation: drastically difficult grape-growing conditions, all pre-phylloxera rootstock (because the little bugs can’t jump from one Santorini’s tiny grains of volcanic sand to another), vines 80-100 years old, the whole connection to Venice and Venetian merchants in the Renaissance. Santorini, when it’s good, is just one of those wines that thrills and surprises me, stimulates my intellect, and transports me to another place.

Isn’t that what great wines are all about?

I hope everyone’s having a great summer with something great in your glass! Thanks for reading…


I Am Love (I Am Cinema) and good things we eat and drink

July 27, 2010

Above: Over the weekend, Tracie P made cabbage leaves stuffed with shredded pork and rice and then braised in puréed tomato. Delicious…

The same way some of my favorite wine bloggers share my passion for music, like McDuff and Eric the Red, many of my blogging colleagues share my passion for cinema, like Lyle and Tom. (They tell me I know a little about cinema and Italian cinema in particular.)

Over the weekend, Tracie P and I finally went to see I am Love, the (relatively) new (to American audiences) movie by director Luca Guadagnino. We both loved it and I highly recommend it (and I thank Comrades A and H for nudging us to see it!).

Above: Summertime means PANZANELLA chez Parzenella… so yummy…

There are plenty of insightful reviews of the movie but I wanted to make one (I feel) important point about it. So many reviewers have made reference to Guadagnino’s homage to Visconti in this work (and there is a Viscontian influence here, no doubt). But there are many other cinéaste and cinephilic references here.

I’m not the first to note that Pasolini’s Teorema is a patent model for this work, where chef Antonio is a parallel to Terrence Stamp’s character in the former.

But I may be the first to point out that Antonioni’s influence is also immensely felt here: the shots of Milan and in particular industrial Milan are clear references to Antonioni’s tetraology, L’Avventura, La Notte, L’Eclisse, and The Red Desert. And even more significantly, the characters’s sense of alienation and the “substitution” of one relationship for another in the search for elusive happiness owe much to Antonioni’s thoughtfully two-dimensional world.

Above: Some southern girls knew how to make fried green tomatoes even before they went Hollywood! Gelatinous on the inside, crispy on the outside.

Most significantly, I Am Love is a film that is aware of being a film and being part of a great cinematic tradition: I am Cinema. The shots of industrial Milan and the textile factories, for example, evoked a genre of Italian nationalist documentary filmmaking that first emerged during fascism and reached its peak during the “economic miracle” of the 1960s. The use of Giacomo Giulio da Milano’s font Neon in the credits and captions was a sort of epicinematic allusion that paid homage to the grand tradition of Italian design at its peak in the 1930s (Neon was forged in 1935 at the Fonderia Nebiolo in Turin). Those same “happy years” of fascism saw the Recchi family expand their influence, power, and wealth (remember the conversation between Edoardo and his colleague?).

Above: The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc by Clos Roche Blanche is probably going to be my white wine of the summer. At under $20 (available at The Austin Wine Merchant, where we got it), this delicious wine paired stunningly (and affordably) well with the pork medallions that Tracie P served with shredded cabbage and homemade pear chutney. Really and truly one of those sublime pairings.

The overarching theme of Gaudagnino’s film and story is one that belongs steadfastly to Italian cinema, especially when viewed in its inherently Marxisant paradigm: the alienation of a sense of humanity through the reification of the body.

And, here, I am confident that Gaudagnino would agree with me: Antonio the proletarian chef, whose craft brings him into contact with an otherwise elitist and esoteric group (after he “beats” Edoardo in the race), becomes a conduit that allows the characters to “return to nature” using a Leopardian and ultimately Rousseauan lexicon.

The food porn sequence (where Emma eats a shrimp, how phallic is that?) and the farm-to-table sex sequence (a symphony of cross pollination) represent the triumph of nature over materialism.

After all, when the chef at some chichi lower Manhattan restaurant regales her/his patrons with tales of the farmhouse where she/he has sourced her/his heirloom cultivars of elderflowers used to infuse her/his coulis, is it not an extravagant (in the etymological sense of the word) attempt to cheat materialism for the sake of a false Mother nature?

I hope that Emma will find what she’s looking for in Antonio, but somehow I don’t think she will…

I am love, I am cinema, and I am a fried green tomato. Thanks for reading…

And buona visione, as they say…


I read the news today o boy: man in the mirror is gone

June 26, 2009

michael_jacksonWhere were you when you heard the news? I was outside San Antonio, at the end of the work day, in a traffic jam and on the phone with Tracie B, who saw the lugubrious headline flash across a feed on her computer screen.

Whatever your feelings about Michael Jackson (or lack thereof), you knew his name, you knew his songs, you knew his image, and you knew how he changed the world. He was one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all time and my generation came of age with him — whether you liked his music or not. I have always loved his music and his songwriting in particular.

Last night, Tracie B and I slowly sipped Clos Roche Blanche Cabernet Franc as we listened to MJ on our Ipod and danced and sang along to all of our favorite songs. Then we watched some of the Larry King conga line freak show.

I once had a job, back when I was a grad student back in the 90s, archiving video footage of Motown artists (for Berry Gordy’s publishing company Jobete). In one interview with the young Michael Jackson, the journalist asked him how he felt about racism he encountered while touring in the South. “Sometimes you go to a movie theater,” he said, “and someone says something mean and it just ruins your whole day.”

It’s amazing to think how the world changed in the arc of Michael Jackson’s lifetime — and ours.

RIP MJ

If they say
Why, why, tell em that is human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way
If they say
Why, why, tell em that is human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way
I like livin this way


Tracie B and Jeremy P au naturel

June 10, 2009

Above: Did I mention the girl can cook? Tracie B’s “Potato, tomato, mozzarella Napoleon.” We paired with Laurent Tribut Chablis 2007.

Tracie B and I have been on a bit of an au naturel bender this week after we attended a highly classified and thoroughly delicious dinner the other night in East Austin at an undisclosed location.

Above: Tracie B’s stuffed braised zucchine. She moved on to a glass of awesome Langhe Nebbiolo 2007 by Produttori del Barbaresco (that I had in my wine bag from a tasting I did earlier in the day in San Antonio) but I thought the Chablis — with its tongue-splitting acidity, as Tracie B likes to say — paired beautifully with this dish as well.

One of the guests at the “underground dinner” we attended over the weekend turned us on to Farm House Delivery, a locally based website that brings a small farmer’s market to your doorstep.

Above: Tracie B returned from work yesterday to find the this crate full of yummy stuff at her doorstep.

We had actually missed the cutoff for ordering this week but Tracie B managed to place an order anyway: seems the ladies who run Farmhouse Delivery are from Beaumont, a stone’s throw from Orange, Texas where Tracie B grew up. “We’re everywhere, aren’t we?” they joked with her.

Above: Miso Risotto, Rhubarb, Bok Choy, and Red Chard at the “anti-restaurant” the other night. I had brought a bottle of 2006 Touraine Cabernet Franc by Clos Roche Blanche to the BYOB event (always such a great value and such a great wine).

I first read about “underground dinners” or “anti-restaurants” last summer in the Times: the vegetarian menu last Saturday night featured locally and organically grown produce (including the excellent dish above). Thanks, again, JP and RdB, for including us! Your secret’s safe with me!

Read Tracie B’s reflections on bread crumbs and the secret to her excellent fried chicken here. Did I mention that the girl can cook?


NPA and NN+ in SF CA

May 8, 2009

Above: A view from the stage. My bandmate Céline Dijon (Verena Wiesendanger, right) was in a super good mood last night at our show at Rickshaw Stop (hint: a fan was buying her Jameson). The show was a blast and we did three encores. Thanks again to Waldo of Rickshaw for letting us rehearse at the club: enjoy the Clos Roche Blanche Cot we gave you!

It was something of a blogger summit and a meeting of virtual friends last night between Terroir Natural Wine Bar and Merchant and Rickshaw Stop in SF.

Among them were my virtual and now real friends Cory Cartwright (author of Saignée) and his delightful wife Emily. We shared a bottle of the enigmatic 2002 Ribolla Gialla by Gravner. One blogger, who prefers to remain anonymous, noted (and I concur) that the Gravner is an “abstract” wine, a wine (in a certain sense) that you cannot drink. There’s no question that Gravner’s wines are fascinating, thought-provoking, and intriguing: as the wine aerated it revealed a remarkable array of fruit aromas — think dried and moldy apricot (but in the mouth, it still felt to me like the wood dominated). Owners Dagan Ministero and Luc Ertoran were on hand as well, and a lively discussion of “orange wine” ensued and they generously tasted us on a number of bottlings (including Ca’ de Noci and Damijan). Virtual friends Slaton Lipscomb and Simona (author of Briciole) were there, too, and Clark Terry of Kermit Lynch blog fame also joined up at the show.

The most interesting and unique wine of the evening was the Natural Process Alliance skin-fermented Chardonnay (above), sold only in reusable stainless-steel containers. (Spume has written about this wine as has Alice.) This wine is as stinky and cloudy as it gets and it is 100% delicious (maybe not for everyone but just right for yours truly). Slaton noted that it tastes slightly different every time because its malolactic fermentation has not completed when it ships. You can only get locally and I highly recommend it.

The crowd was fantastic last night and we did three encores, closing with a rocking version of “Ca Plane Pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand. Tonight we play at an all-ages club in San Jose and I’m just passing time until tomorrow when I get to be reunited with my Tracie B, who’s flying in to visit with her girlfriends and see our show at Spaceland.

Highway run
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go ’round and ’round
You’re on my mind
Restless hearts
Sleep alone tonight
Sendin’ all my love
Along the wire


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