Spanna 55 or 58? The answer and seals on the beach

July 24, 2009

You may remember a post from more than two years ago on a bottle of Vallana Spanna 1958 that my good buddy, wine writer and WSJ editor, Jeff Grocott and I shared for our fortieth birthdays. The wine was fantastic — fresh, with lively acidity and fruit, a real treat. Last night, I had the great fortune to pour and to taste the 1955 with our good friend and Jaynes Gastropub regular John G, who graciously tasted me, Jayne, and Jon on the wine (as we say in the wine biz, using the dative form of first person singular, for you linguist geeks). Jayne and Jon have some crazy stuff on their reserve list (be sure to ask them or me about it next time you visit) and this beauty showed gloriously. As much as I enjoyed the 58 back in New York with Jeff, I have to say that the 55 showed better (and is generally considered the slightly superior of the two spectacular vintages for Piedmont). Had it been topped off with young wine at some point? I’m sure it had. Was it recorked (and maybe even rebottled) recently? Probably not so recently, given the mold I found under the capsule. Was it a stunningly delicious wine, with vibrant fruit and acidity, and that ineffable lightness that traditional Nebbiolo attains when vinified and aged in a traditional manner? Well, I think you get the picture… If not, see the photo above.

When my shift ended, Jayne and Jon graciously let me pop a bottle of the 2004 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano by Sanguineto I had brought in my wine bag. My pairing? The Jaynes Burger, obviously. Man, I am just so crazy about this wine — a traditional, old-school expression of Sangiovese (in this case, known as Prugnolo Gentile), with smaller amounts of Mammolo and Canaiolo. Classic red fruit flavors, Nadia Comăneci balance between acidity, fruit, and tannin (Benoit, who shared the bottle with me, agreed). I’ve squirreled away another bottle to share with Tracie B (maybe over camaronillas — deep-fried corn tortillas stuffed with Pacific Ocean shrimp — at Bahia Don Bravo, my lovely?) when we come back out in a few weeks for the San Diego Natural Wine Summit at Jaynes August 9. Check out the wines we’ll be pouring here.

Jumping on a plane now to get back to Tracie B in Austin (it’s been two days too long since I’ve seen her) but here’s a quick vid I shot this morning of the seals outside of mama Judy’s place in La Jolla:


Day 2 of 31 Days of Natural Wine: nothing natural about it

June 20, 2009

This post is the second installment of Saignée’s 31 Days of Natural Wine. Click the link below for more…

“Natural wine” is something of a misnomer. Wine is, after all, an act of humankind.

It’s true that wine occurs naturally. Aleš Kristančič of Movia once explained to me how when a grape falls from the vine, it is a natural winemaking vessel: the hole at the top of the berry (where the stem has broken away) is a natural valve that allows yeast on the skin to enter the berry and begin turning the sugar into alcohol.

Wine was a gift from the gods (think Bacchus), or a gift of G-d (think Noah), or an accident (think mother Natura), depending on how you look at it: the magic of grape juice being turned into wine was probably discovered by someone who forgot some grapes in an amphora, only to open the vessel later and find that they had been turned into wine (the original carbonic maceration). But the moment that someone employed this stumbled-upon technology (tehnê, meaning art or craft) a second time, it became an act of humankind…

Click here to read more…

In other news…

Dany the Red is now Dany the Green. Remember this post from East Germany back in September 2008? That’s me stage left, above, rocking out with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who was in the news today and whose “Europe Écologie coalition of European Green parties came in third in French voting for the [European] Parliament, winning 16.28 percent of the vote. It was just behind the squabbling Socialists, who had only 16.48 percent, and ahead of a presumptive presidential candidate, François Bayrou of the centrist Democratic Movement, or Modem.” Check out this article in the Times. I love how the girl in the photo above is wearing a bright red outfit.

By now you should know the identity of the mystery girl to whom I threw the kiss!


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