1970 Sassicaia (no, I didn’t drink it)

Above: One of the very few things I miss about living in New York City is the availability of good smoked fish and New York bagels. We get frozen H&H bagels at our local Central Market. Scrambled eggs and bagels and lox have become a happy Sunday habit.

Kermit is coming to town and I’m prepping today (following our now traditional late-morning breakfast of toasted H&H bagels, cream cheese salmon, thinly sliced tomatoes and red onion, salted capers, brined olives, and eggs scrambled with Parmigiano Reggiano and an onion soffritto, a casa della bellissima Tracie B) for my presentation of the wine-industry great and singer-songwriter tomorrow night at Vino Vino in Austin.

I’ve been rereading his most recent book, Inspiring Thirst, an anthology of his newsletters stretching back to the beginnings of his career in the wine industry in the early 1970s (the first newsletter in the collection is dated 1974). In many ways, the gathering of glosses and notes is an excellent primer on how to sell wine. I don’t think its unfair to say that Kermit essentially invented wine blogging with his “little propaganda pieces,” as he called them.

The corpus of his blurbs is also an amazing historical document with fresh tasting notes and observations on now-nearly-forgotten vintages, like his take on 1970 Sassicaia, penned in 1975:

    1970 Sassicaia

    Unlikely, perhaps, but here we have a very impressive Cabernet Sauvignon made in Italy. It shows a pronounced varietal nose, while the effect upon the palate is akin to Bordeaux, explained by the fact that the winemaker is French and is using Bordeaux barrels. Regardless, the wine is extremely well made; to my taste it compares easily with over-$8 California Cabernets. Highly recommended! $5.50 per bottle $59.40 per case

The first commercially released vintage of Sassicaia was 1968. Darrell Corti told me that he sold it at Corti Brothers in Sacramento for $6.99 (Kermit was selling it for more than 20% less!).

Kermit talks a lot about how the 1970s recession led a lot of importers to “advance” their inventory to him. “Pay me when you sell it,” they would tell him, and he would pass the excellent pricing on to his customers. His description of the economic climate sounds a lot like the situation today and his blueprint for selling (and marketing) wine is good advice for anyone involved in the wine industry today — on any level, be it importing, wholesale, on premise, or retail.

Tomorrow night Kermit, Ricky Fataar (his producer), and I will be talking about Kermit’s new record, Man’s Temptation (and the event is already sold out) but I hope to get a chance to ask him about Sassicaia at $5.50 a bottle. The wines sells for $599.00 a bottle today.

In other news…

The fall weather’s been fantastic here in Texas and the sunsets and the Texan sky are amazing, as always. I took this photo yesterday evening before Tracie B and I headed out for the night. Happy Sunday, ya’ll!

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