Vino (Vino) and football

January 7, 2010

From the “just for fun” department…

Above: In Texas, they take their football seriously. That’s Tracie B’s cousin Grant at a recent Longhorns game. When he found out we were getting married, his father Terry, my favorite uncle-to-be, called and congratulated me and then politely requested, “but please don’t get married during the playoffs.” UT is playing Alabama in the championship tonight at the Rose Bowl.

I’m not exactly what you’d call a “jock.” Don’t get me wrong: I stay in shape and have long enjoyed the competitive sport otherwise known as “jogging.” All of my brothers were highly accomplished athletes in high school and beyond. But me? I got through my teenage years on good grades and playing guitar. Let’s just put it this way: Tracie B loves me for “my brain,” not my biceps. ;-)

Well, I live in Texas now: as Anne in Oxfordshire pointed out the other day, I “care about where the apostrophe is” but when in Rome…

Tracie B and I will be watching the game tonight at our favorite neighborhood wine bar, Vino Vino: I can’t think of any other city in the world where you could watch a college-football championship game and sip on a slightly sparkling Favorita (blended with a little bit of Moscato) from Piedmont with an alcohol content of around 11.5%. (It’s the Grangia by Tintero, one of our cannot-live-without wines.)

Vino and football! Who’d have ever thunk it?

In other news…

Photo by Benoit.

The squirrels are at it again. Click here to submit your nominations for the Squirrel Wine Blogging awards.


Some best bubbles and life beyond Prosecco…

December 29, 2009

Above: I took this photo earlier this year atop Cartizze, the most prestigious growing site for Prosecco, where the cost of land per acre is higher than in Napa Valley. In 1998, Tom Stevenson wrote that Prosecco is “probably the most overrated sparkling wine grape in the world” (The Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine, reprint 2003).

Xenophobe and racist Italian agriculture minister Luca Zaia has infamously and nationalistically asked Italians to drink only Italian sparkling wine for their New Year’s celebration this year. His campanilistic call comes in part as the result of a backlash from last year’s nationalized television controversy when the announcers of RAI Uno opened Champagne during a televised New Year’s eve event.

Of course, Zaia is also infamous for the favoritism he’s shown for his beloved Prosecco this year. He even created the Prosecco DOCG, placing the humble Prosecco grape in the pantheon of the top classification, before Common Market Organisation reforms took effect this year.

Above: Italy produces such a wonderful variety of sparkling wines, from the humble yet beloved Prosecco to the often regal, zero-dosage Franciacorta. Franco and I tasted an amazing array of sparkling wines last year together at Ca’ del Bosco.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Prosecco. And I love the place where it produced and the people who produce it. Just ask Alfonso: he remembers well how I guided us to Valdobbiadene from Trento earlier this year, without ever looking at a map, my Trevisan cadence getting stronger and stronger as my beloved Piave river and its tributaries came into earshot. You see, many years ago, I made my living traveling along the Piave river, from Padua to Belluno, playing American music for pub crawlers.

Above: One of the best champagne-method wines I’ve tasted in recent memory was this Franciacorta rosé by Camossi. Structure, toasty notes and fresh fruit flavors, bright acidity and fine bubbles, an excellent pairing for all the lake fish, smoked, pickled, and roasted, that Franco, Giovanni, Ben, and I ate one fateful night in Erbusco.

But there are so many wonderful sparkling Italian wines beyond Prosecco (Sommariva and Coste Piane are my two favorite expressions of Prosecco available right now in this country). Franciacorta is the first obvious destination but there are so many other producers of fine sparkling white wines made from indigenous and international grape varieties: champagne-method Erbaluce from Carema in Piedmont (Orsolani), Charmat-method Favorita from Mango in Piedmont (Tintero), champagne-method Pinot Noir from Emilia (Lini), Charmat-method Moscato known as Moscadello di Montalcino from Tuscany (Il Poggione), a rosé blend of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir from Langa in Piedmont (Deltetto)… Those are the first that come to mind but there are many, many others. Sparkling wines are produced in nearly every region of Italy, from the sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Trentino and South Tyrol to sparkling Ribolla of Friuli and the sparkling Verdicchio of the Marches. Once, I even tasted a sparkling Nerello Mascalese from Sicily that had been vinified as a white wine (but I can’t recall the producer… please let me know if you know one).

Above: Hand-riddled magnums of Chardonnay for Ca’ del Bosco’s Franciacorta.

Why do we feel obliged to drink something sparkling on New Year’s eve, anyway? I’m sure the answer lies somewhere between the royal court of Britain, the Czars, Napoleon’s vinous invasion of Russia, and some enterprising Germans who set up shop in Champagne in the 19th century.

Tracie B and I still haven’t decided what we’re going to open on New Year’s but I’m sure it’ll be something good.

On deck for tomorrow…

Best Champagne and other French sparkling values by guest blogger BrooklynGuy.

And in the meantime, please check out Tom’s post today on “classy sparkling wines.”


Nobody said it better: Jayne on natural wine

August 10, 2009

Above: Yesterday, my friends Alex Stuempfig (left) and John Rikkers (right) and I tasted Lunar together — some very orange wine — at the first-ever San Diego Natural Wine Summit at Jaynes Gastropub. Photos by Tracie B.

Tracie B and I had a blast yesterday at the San Diego Natural Wine Summit. A big heartfelt thank you from me to Jayne and Jon (owners of Jaynes) and the staff, to the suppliers who generously poured and spoke, and to all the folks who came out to taste, to trade notes, and to share in our passion for natural wine.

Above: It was super fun to float around the tasting, talking to people and tasting wine. At one point, I jumped behind the Kermit Lynch table. That’s me, riffing on some killer Guy Breton Beaujolais Morgon.

As I floated around the tasting, talking to people, tasting, and comparing notes, I couldn’t help but think about how natural wine is so much more than just a style or philosophy or ideology of winemaking. As I watched and enjoyed the many oohs and ahs of people tasting a vivace (gently sparkling) blend of Cortese, Favorita, and Arneis (the Arcese by Bera, which Tracie B noted was THE wine of the tasting) or the killer Mikulski Aligoté (which has got to be the best Aligoté I’ve ever tasted), it occurred to me that natural wine is also a lifestyle, an attitude about food and wine and what we put in our bodies, and a culture that brings like-minded folks together. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone drank natural wine?

Above: Even Aria loves natural wine. Her daddys are the nicest folks and just another reason why I love natural wine.

Nobody said it better than Jayne: “Whatever it is — food or wine — the things I like the best are the things that are manipulated the least.” Great words to live, eat, and drink by, no?

I’ll be posting more on the tasting here, at the Jaynes blog, and at the 2Bianchi blog as well, so please stay tuned… and thanks to everyone for your support!


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