@Levi_opens_wine visits Romano Levi distillery

October 28, 2012

levi dalton

Once again, I feel compelled to direct your attention to a superb and extraordinary post by Levi Dalton — the “dude of dudes of wine blogging.”

In it, the Philip Marlowe of the international wine scene visits the Romano Levi distillery in Piedmont.

Buona lettura e buona domenica a tutti!


a superb post on #BartoloMascarello by @Levi_opens_wine

October 8, 2012

from the departement of “ubi maior minor cessat”…

I highly recommend Levi’s truly superb post on his visit to Bartolo Mascarello. I know that you will find it as thrilling and vital as I did…

Chapeau bas, Levi, and thanks for this great post…


A treatise on tannins @EatingOurWords

May 30, 2012

This 1974 Produttori del Barbaresco classic Barbaresco came from the personal cellar of my friend Levi Dalton, one of the sommeliers I admire most.

Have you ever been to a wine tasting or dinner party and heard some blowhard try to befuddle and belittle an enthusiastic however neophyte wine lover by asking can you taste how smooth the tannins are in this [red] wine?

One of the most common misperceptions in the wine world is that you can taste tannin. In fact, tannins are expressed through the mouthfeel of wine. In other words, you perceive tannin through a tactile sensation.

Click here to continue reading my post today for the Houston Press and to learn my trick for teaching wine lovers how to understand what tannins are and how they affect the flavor and mouthfeel of wine…


Alice and I pay a visit to the “Wine Seer” (New York Stories III)

March 23, 2012

@Levi_opens_wine an amazing wine seer, don’t you think, @DoBianchi?” tweeted Alice at the end of the night after we visited with Levi and Brooklyn Guy uptown last Friday night.

In my view, Levi is arguably the coolest sommelier in the U.S. right now and beyond his razor-sharp expertise in Italian wine, he always seems to be just one step ahead of the curve, shaping the discourse and defining the dialectic — a wine “seer,” as Alice put.

It’s not that I didn’t want to see all of my other friends last week in the City. I only had about 48 hours on the ground and they were consumed mostly by meetings with my top client. And Alice, Brooklyn Guy, and Levi were the people I needed to see on this trip.

It was also great to catch up with celebrity sommelier Michael Madrigale, who was working the floor at Boulud Sud that night with Levi.

But it was Levi who had the goods and the dope that I wanted to smoke.

The first wine he opened was the 2005 Overnoy Arbois Pupillin (made from Savagnin), a wine that Levi knows is hard to find beyond the island of Manhattan. An oxidative, tannic, orange wine from the Jura… In many ways this wine represented a synagoga (a coming together) of fascinations that have exited some of us over the last decade. The wine was salty and dense, with its muscle dominating its grace; its delicacy and nuance emerging and revealing itself only as we patiently observed its evolution.

Brooklyn Guy offered that this was an ideal expression of this wine, noting that he had seen a lot of bottle variation in his purchases.

But the pièce de résistance was the Equipos Navaros Bota de Manzanilla Pasada (Sherry).

Brooklyn Guy (aka “the Brook,” as Eric the Red calls him) and Levi have both visited Jerez in the last few years and it was thrilling to hear them hold court on this wine, produced by a generic, commercial winery that holds back certain privileged casks.

“Sherry is a forgotten wine,” said Brooklyn Guy, as Levi expressed his view that the category delivers wines that should be served with food instead of as an aperitif, as do the English and Anglophilic Americans.

I highly recommend checking both of their blogs — Brooklyn Guy and So You Want to be a Sommelier, respectively — and their threads on Sherry and their discoveries.

Is Sherry going to be the next big thing in the U.S.?

@Levi_opens_wine an amazing wine seer, don’t you think, @DoBianchi?


New York Stories 5: 3 Jews, a Scot, a Piedmontese, a Turk, and 2 Swiss walk into a vertical of cult Barolo

November 22, 2010

One Manhattan evening, top New York sommelier (and I mean, king of the hill, top of the heap) Levi Dalton (center, standing, my personal Philip Marlowe of wine) did a true mitzvah: knowing what a wonderful thing it would be for McDuff (left), BrooklynGuy (seated, center), Lyle, and me to get together, he managed to finagle a seat for each of us at vertical tasting and dinner at swank Alto with Peter Weimer, German Swiss cult Barolo producer, owner of Cascina Ebreo (Jew Farm) in Novello (Barolo).

Peter’s importer was also there, Dino, a simpatico German-speaking Turk and New York wine scene character, who also brought of a bottle of Giacomo Conterno 2002 Monfortino (see Lyle’s notes on the Monfortino).

Peter’s Torbido! is an aggressively traditional wine, made with native yeasts and long maceration, unfiltered. I thought 1999 showed beautifully and the 2004, however youthful, promises to be a superb wine. The big hit of the evening was 1998, which I also loved.

It was thoroughly great to see the Jew crüe and speculation as to why the farm is called Cascina Ebreo led to colorful exegesis.

Peter and Dino took many smoke breaks during the event, prompting me to recall an old Italian joke: who smokes more than a Turk? Two Turks!

I was happy to see Dino (whom I’ve known for many years) and to get to chat and taste the wines with Peter.

And wow, whatta mensch, that Levi Dalton, for getting the gang all together…!!! It was, as Lyle put it, a “Mt. Rushmore of wine bloggers,” or, in the words of McDuff, a “meeting of the menches“…


Don’t read my wine blog (and great things I ate in San Diego)

June 22, 2010

Above: Fish tacos at Jaynes Gastropub (served only during happy hour). So good with the Grüner Veltliner by Domäne Wachau by-the-glass.

As my lovely and most definitely better half Tracie P will surely agree: it is a rare occasion that I am left speechless. Today is such an occasion.

I was left entirely FLOORED by Levi Dalton’s piece over at the 32 Days of Natural Wine.

Above: Camaronillas (corn tortillas stuffed with shrimp and then deep-fried) at Bahia Don Bravo in Bird Rock with the crew (SO MUCH fun last night). Bahia Don Bravo 5504 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, (858) 454-8940. (Thanks Salavdor, Roberto, and Dora! YOU’RE THE BEST!)

I highly recommend that you check out and follow the 32 Days and there are so many great posts to come.

Above: And only because Zio Alfonso is so concerned about my cholesterol level, I only ate half of the homemade pork sausage (generously studded with fennel seeds) at Pete’s Quality Meat in Little Italy on my way to the airport. Pete’s Quality Meat, 1742 India Street, San Diego, CA, (619) 234-1684.

I’m so stoked that I got to be part of this epic undertaking and entirely humbled by the caliber and talent of the contributors.

Here’s a useful link to see an overview of all the posts to date.

Buona lettura, as the Italians say!


An INCREDIBLE flight with the Philip Marlowe of wine

June 8, 2010

It was about 8 o’clock in the evening, end of May, with the Manhattan moon rising above midtown and a look of hard wet rain in the distance of New Jersey. I was wearing my pinstripe blue suit, with a light checkered shirt and an orange square tie. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed sommelier ought to be. I was about to pour an 1971 Produttori del Barbaresco.

Words cannot begin to describe the sensations Tracie P and I experienced a few weeks ago in New York, when our dear friend Mary Anne treated us to dinner at Alto in midtown Manhattan, where Levi Dalton — the Philip Marlowe of the New York wine scene — had created a special flight just for us.

There a lot of talented wine professionals in New York but none is sharper than Levi, and man, he’s at the top of his game right now, really and truly in the zone. And I’m sure that anyone who knows Levi will concur: the dude’s dry wit and deftness at wordplay are matched only by the acuity of his palate. Raymond Chandler couldn’t have written a more perfect Philip Marlowe of wine.

I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a wine key and a serviette.

Like a mind-reader, Levi couldn’t have thrilled us more than by opening the flight with this Saignée de Sorbée by Vouette et Sorbée. Incredible freshness, sumptuous aroma, sexy but not overly generous fruit flavor.

Next came the 2005 Arbois Pupillon by Overnoy. I’d only ever tasted this wine in Québec, where it seems to be easier to find. To me, wines like this are the “unbearable lightness of being.” They are so light in body yet so rich in mouthfeel, delicately fragrant on the nose yet muscular in the palate. Perhaps only in Barbaresco do I find that same counter-intuitive, ineffable sensory experience. The same equine metaphors apply.

The whole restaurant turned around to see what the fuss was about when Tracie P and I gasped in delight at the appearance of this wine. 1974 not the greatest vintage for this wine but showing admirably. Little did we know what was about to come…

Dreams do come true. Awesome vintage (older than Tracie P!), beautifully cellared bottle. One of the great wine experiences of my lifetime (up there with 1989 Barbaresco Santo Stefano by Bruno Giacosa).

Angiolino Maule’s wines were a discovery for me on this recent trip to New York. Later in the trip, I tasted his declassified Soave. Fantastic wines. Great acidity even in this recioto di Soave. A true connoisseur’s wine.

And not to be outdone in the brandy department… The above photo needs no caption.

“How do you like your brandy?” asked General Sternwood. “In a glass,” said Marlowe.

From Levi Dalton to Romano Levi… what a night! What an amazing flight of wines.

Thanks again, Mary Anne for treating me and Tracie P to such an unforgettable evening in celebration of our wedding. And thanks, Levi, for being such a great friend (however from afar) and for creating such a special flight of wines just for us. I’ll never forget it.


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