Mourvèdre envy (and more on Giacosa)

June 18, 2009

Mourvèdre envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a wine lover during her or his oenological development to the realization that she or he does not have access to old Bandol. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in the development of palate and oenological identity. According to Freud, the parallel reaction in those who have access to old Mourvèdre is the realization that others have access to old Nebbiolo, a condition known as Nebbiolo anxiety.

Above: Tracie B and I drank the current vintage of Tempier Bandol Rosé — made from Mourvèdre — by the glass with our excellent housemade sausage tacos at the Linkery in San Diego. Jay Porter’s farm-to-table menu and his homemade cruvinet are hugely popular. The food is always fun and tasty. Jay was one of the first San Diego restaurateurs to use a blog to market his restaurant.

Tracie B and I have had our share of great Mourvèdre lately: we were blown away by the flight of old Terrebrune Bandol — rosé and red — we got to taste last month in San Francisco at the Kermit Lynch portfolio tasting. As the Italians might say, we’re “Mourvèdre addicted.”

Above: Jayne and Jon serve Terrebrune Bandol Rosé in half-bottles at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego — a great summer aperitif wine and a fantastic pairing with Chef Daniel’s scallop ceviche. I was first hipped to Terrebrune by BrooklynGuy: it shows impressive character and structure and costs a lot less than Tempier.

So you can imagine how I began to salivate like Pavlov’s dog when I read BrooklynGuy’s recent post on a bottle of 1994 Tempier Rouge that he had been saving. Like Produttori del Barbaresco, Tempier represents a great value and the current release of the red is generally available at about $50 retail — the upper end of my price point ceiling. In other words, it’s a wine that even the modest wine collector can invest in with fantastic results. Despite the acute case of Mourvèdre envy that he gave me, I really liked BrooklynGuy’s profile of this “natural wine” producer and his tasting notes.

Nota bene: BrooklynGuy and I are both slated to appear in Saignée’s 31 Days of Natural Wine series. My post is schedule for June 20 and you might be surprised at what I had to say. Thanks again, Cory! I’m thrilled to get to participate with so many fantastic bloggers and writers.

In other news…

Above: That’s my lunch yesterday at Bryce’s Cafeteria in Texarkana on the Texas-Arkansas border. Chicken fried chicken steak and tomato aspic stuffed with mayonnaise. Tracie B is gonna kill me if that gravy doesn’t… They sure are proud of their tomatoes in Arkansas and tomato season has nearly arrived.

So many blogs and so little time… I’m on my way back to Austin from Arkansas (where I’ve been hawking wine) and I wish I had time to translate Franco’s post on Bruno Giacosa’s decision not to bottle his 2006 Barolo and Barbaresco, the infelicitous manner in which the news was announced by the winery, and how the news was subsequently disseminated. Upon reading Decanter’s sloppy cut-and-paste job, one prominent wine blogger tweeted “note to self, don’t buy 2006 Barbaresco.” My plea to all: please know that 2006 is a good if not great vintage in Langa and please, please, please, read betweet the lines…


What would the Iron Baron Ricasoli say if he were alive today?

June 6, 2009

In a 1989 show entitled Le balene restino sedute (Whales, please stay seated), the Bolognese comedian Alessandro Bergonzoni (left) noted that if Sigmund Freud (center) were alive today, he would say: “Well, I sure have lived for a long time.”

Above: The Sala delle Armi or Armory Hall in the Brolio Castle in the township of Gaiole in the heart of Chianti.

Reading Carlo Macchi’s post about yesterday’s conference on the Ricasoli-Studiati Papers, held at the Ricasoli family’s Castello Brolio in Chianti Classico, I couldn’t help but wonder what would the Iron Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880, above right) say if he were alive today? Among other significant entries on Italian unification, Italian national identity, and the importance of agriculture and winemaking in the forging of a new Italian nation, the correspondence between Ricasoli — Italy’s second prime minister, one the architects of its independence, and a champion of Sangiovese — and Pisan professor Cesare Studiati contains the famed letter in which the Baron described his experimentation with “every grape variety” in his vineyards and his conclusion that Sangiovese — or Sangioveto, as it was called in Tuscany then — was the ideal grape to grow in Tuscany. (You can read my translation of the letter here.) Many claim erroneously that the Iron Baron wrote a formula or recipe for Chianti. He did not. But when he tore out international grape varieties from this vineyards and replanted with Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Malvasia, the land holders of Tuscany followed suit. If you read the series of letters between the two men during that period, you will discover that he was trying to create (and he ultimately succeeded in creating) a fine wine that could be shipped abroad. He realized that Italian wine could help to fuel the nascent national economy if and only if it could be shipped abroad. And through his experiments, he discovered that Sangiovese grown on Tuscan soil was ideal for this purpose.

According to Carlo, who attended the event yesterday, the discussion — moderated by megawatt Italian television personality Bruno Vespa — centered around the controversial expansion of the Chianti appellation. Would this have concerned the Iron Baron? Perhaps. But if he were to taste the Chianti produced by the “40 or so winemakers” who attended the celebrity-studded event, what would he say? Would he recognize his beloved Sangiovese in those wines, now dominated by Merlot and Cabernet?

I’ll let you fill in the blank…


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