Carlo Ferrini and me (so many great wines & so little time)

May 17, 2012

Love him or hate him, legendary and often controversial Tuscan enologist Carlo Ferrini and I sat next to each other on the Sparkling Wine panel at the Viva Vino conference yesterday in Los Angeles.

We had a chance to speak for a few minutes before the panel and he was exceedingly forthright in his answers when asked about Montalcino, his association with Casanova di Neri, and what he considers his legacy and contribution to the history of Italian wine over the last few decades.

I don’t have time to post notes from our conversation today but will offer the following nugget.

When I asked how he feels about the fact that so many in Italy and beyond associate him with Merlot (many in the industry call him “Mr. Merlot,” using the English title mockingly), he said, quite frankly, “I don’t understand why people say that of me, when, in fact, it’s Cabernet [Sauvignon] that I like so much.”

I have to say that I admired his friendliness, style, and earnestness and I plan to visit with him this fall when Tracie P, Georgia P, and I head to Tuscany.

In other news…

It was a blast to connect with the newly formed consortium of Oslavia (Collio, Friuli) producers who visited Los Angeles for the conference and trade events (after stopping for two days in Vegas where they partied their asses off).

That’s Max Stefanelli of Terroni (kneeling, left) and his wife Francesca behind him with six of the seven producers from the village (can you guess the single producer who didn’t come? I’m buying a glass of wine tonight at Sotto for anyone who can!).

Here are the wines they poured for me and a handful of industry folks who attended a late night dinner and tasting at Terroni.

In other other news…

I connected yesterday with Lou (who needs no introduction here) and my new BFF Taylor Parsons, wine director at Osteria Mozza and Tuesday night I had dinner with Anthony and David at Mozza, where the conversation spanned an arc of Mel Brooks Hitler humor, the art of mixing (records), Anthony’s father’s incredible musical legacy (“he’s conducting better than ever at 93,” he said), burrata, anchovies, and Verdicchio.

So many great wine and so little time… So much more to tell but I have another slamming day and evening ahead of me here in Los Angeles.

If you happen to be in town, please come and see me at Sotto where I’ll be pouring wine on the floor from 6 until 9 or so…


Sérgio Mendes favorite wine last night (with Sérgio!)

December 14, 2010

From the “I shit you not” department…

It was while Brother Anthony (as he has been duly dubbed by Comrade Howard) and I were doing a little wine bar hopping last night in LA that we bumped into bossa nova, jazz, and funk giants Sérgio Mendes and Gracinha Leporace. We literally saw Sérgio from the street through the window of Osteria Mozza (where we had just left the bar) and he insisted that we come back in and taste his wines (brother Anthony recently recorded with Sérgio, who was having dinner with Gracinha and their agent).

What’s it like to drink Chapoutier 2004 Ermitage [sic] De L’Orée with Sérgio? Unbelievably crunchy and salty and utterly delicious. Sérgio and his entourage were super cool and friendly and fun to hang out with (and he was geeked to see brother Anthony and had high praise for him). I love the white wines of Chapoutier and rarely get to drink them. It was such a thrill to taste such an amazing bottling with Sérgio! Thanks again, Sérgio!

But the wine I can’t stop thinking about this foggy morning in LA (there’s a fog upon LA…) is the 2009 Langhe Bianco by Cavallotto, made from Pinot Nero. Not much of this wine is produced, said my fav LA sommelier and GM at Mozza David Rosoff.

I’ve had some great Langhe Bianco this year, notably from Vajra, Cogno, and Ettore Germano, but this wine simply floored me with its structure and nuance.

In keeping with our tradition of Holocaust humor (one of my all-time favorite posts here at Do Bianchi), I greeted David with a heil myself! I love David and one my new year’s resolutions for 2011 is to spend more time tasting with him. This guy deserves a medal for what he’s doing with Italian wine: his list is the top all-Italian carta dei vini, hands down, in the City of Angels.

Next we headed over to see more Jews at my favorite wine bar in the world, Lou on Vine. Lou is a true rebbe of natural wine and is another one of those folks I just wish Tracie P and I got to see more often.

The squid (above) at the Monday night supper was brilliant.

The rabbit was divine.

I just love everything about Lou on Vine.

How do you like my LA stories? It’s been a long time since I’ve posted in the “de urbe angelorum” category!


A couple of posts worth reading…

October 8, 2008

David Schachter and I had our weekly powwow at Mozza last night, where we also tasted with general manager David Rosoff (above) — top sommelier and Italian wine guy in Los Angeles in my book. Man, I wish I could get my facial hair to look as good as his. He’s also a rocking drummer.

Today finds me simply too busy to keep posting my Brunello debate series and I promise to pick it up again on Friday.

In the meantime, check out this post by winemaker and wine blogger Craig Camp, who sets the record straight with James “Giacomino” Suckling. The 1997 and 2000 vintages in Piedmont (and Tuscany) are among the most overrated and misunderstood in this country (I mean, come on: is there such thing as a 100-point vintage?). Suckling should be commended, however, for keeping prices of 1999 and 2001 down. And Piedmont 1998? Drinking great right now.

Schachter brought a bottle of Il Cantante white, impossible to find in this country, and I have to say, one of the most impressive Sicilian whites I’ve ever tasted (made from Carricante, Minnella, Grecanico, and Moscato). Don’t let the rockstar label fool you: this is serious stuff.

I also liked Lyle Fass’ report “U.S. to bailout wine retailers.” Note his take on the 2000 Barolo and 2003 Brunello (both warm, atypical vintages).

We also drank a Conterno Cicala 1996 from Schachter’s cellar. I tasted this wine twice on release — once in NYC and later at the winery. I have to say that it did not show as well as I would have expected and the wood still dominated the wine unfortunately. This wine was touted by some — and they know who they are — to be one of the greatest releases of the decade. I’ve always enjoyed Aldo Conterno’s wines but at the end of the day, I think that traditionalism invariably trumps modernism, however muted that modernism may be (call me a passéist). But this post is about others’ rants, not mine! More on the Brunello debate on Friday…


Mixing Bollinger?

July 19, 2008

Above: Jean-Luc Retard (aka Dan Crane) and Céline Dijon (aka Verena Wiesendanger) relax after mixing the first track from our new album.

Nous Non Plus celebrated the mix of the first track from our new album (work-in-progress title Ménagerie), “Bollinger,” with a bottle of the eponymously named Bollinger (NV, Special Cuvée) that I had picked up earlier in the day at my favorite Southland wine store, Wine House (great Italian selection, a really cool enomatic tasting room, and an excellent cheese monger as well).

We’re such fans of Bollinger that we were inspired to write a song (about some lovers who love the wine). Bollinger will also make another appearance in one of our more sexy tracks (but you’ll have to wait until we disgorge the album to hear it…).

Above: It’s quite a scene at Colorado Wine Company’s Friday night tastings in Eagle Rock.

After we finished tweaking the track and listening with our friend, engineer, and fellow wine lover Bryan Cook at Juice Monster studios in Eagle Rock, we headed over to Colorado Wine Company for their Friday night wine tasting. When I asked the dude at the register what the theme was, he said “After a while, we just ran out of ideas so there really is no theme” to the flight of wines they serve. This week’s tasting was dubbed “Under the Covers” because “we’re playing only cover songs” on the house stereo, he told me. It’s quite a scene (read “singles”) over there at Colorado Wine Company and for $15 you get 5 generous pours — nothing to write home about but it helps to “break the ice.”

My night ended with mezze lune ravioli stuffed with eggplant and scamorza over at what’s become my LA late-night hangout, Mozza, where I believe they serve until about 10 or so. GM David turned me on to a wine I’ve never tasted before (and imported to the U.S. for the first time only recently), 2006 Sella Coste della Sesia DOC Rosato “Majoli,” 100% Nebbiolo rosé, fresh and bright with a perfect touch of tannic structure, a great pairing for the flavors of my ravioli.

Life could be worse…


Mel Brooks: “It’s all good [at Mozza].”

July 5, 2008

mel_brooks

Leave it to Mel Brooks to give a new spin to the Hollywood cliché “It’s all good.” General manager and wine director David Rosoff was kind enough to let me snap a pic of this check presenter comments card the other night at Mozza in Los Angeles, signed by no other than the man himself, Adolf “Elizabeth” Hitler, otherwise known as Mel Brooks (Some of you will undoubtedly know the “Elizabeth” punchline: “he came from a long line of queens.”) Evidently, after dining with his longtime collaborator Carl Reiner in the osteria one night, Mel couldn’t help himself from making yet another Hitler joke. There are so many good ones by Mel but my favorite remains “Heil myself” (right up there with “Say Heil – Heil – siegety Heil”).

Who’d have ever thought I’d actually be able to use “Adolf Hitler” as a tag?


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