Together again, naturally


Above: Nothing to Breg about, to borrow Alfonso’s pun. Last night, he, Tracie P, and I shared a bowl of her slow-cooker cannellini beans and escarole in our home in Austin. Decanted and with a few hours of aeration, the 2000 Breg by Gravner bowled me over, in every sense of the word. Thanks, Alfonso!

Natural wine has been on my mind (again) lately. In part because of a recent appeal posted on the Slowine website (and brought to my attention by Italy’s top wine blogger, Mr. Franco Ziliani) calling for Italy’s “natural wine” fairs (namely, Vini Veri and VinNatur) to be incorporated into the annual Italian wine industry mega-fair Vinitaly. I stayed home this year and didn’t attend but when I posted event details for Vini Veri, a number of folks — including some high-profile industry types — weighed in on the side of consolidation.


Above: There’s just no other way to put this. Tracie P’s legumes were divine last night. Every bean was perfectly whole but then melted in the mouth. Did I mention that the beautiful lady behind the lens also has a natural gift for photography? She snapped the above.

Natural wine has also been on my mind because I’ve been following Alice’s truly excellent posts on the nature — semantic, metaphysical, and sensorial — of natural wine, the winemakers and movement(s) that support and profess it, and the new space it occupies in the language and the perceptions of the mainstream. The latest post, entitled “What is Natural Wine?”, may be the best, but I highly recommend the previous two posts (here and here) and the Washington Post article that prompted the series, “Natural Isn’t Perfect” by Dave McIntyre.


Above: Not only did Alfonso bring the Gravner last night, he also brought some awesome bacon from Robertson’s in Salado, Texas. @BrooklynGuy, you would love this stuff.

In other natural wine news, the excellent Italian wine blog Intravino posted a profile of natural wine trailblazer Joe Dressner and the blog devoted to his truly heroic battle with brain cancer (also brought to my attention by Mr. Ziliani and btw here’s a link to Joe’s blog).

In an email I received yesterday from Étienne de Montille, the famous winemaker wrote that “I should have left for Tokyo Sunday but… Nature has decided otherwise.”

Volcano or no volcano, the transatlantic dialogue moves forward as “natural wine,” however it is conceived or perceived, indelibly enters into the collective vinous consciousness. Only good can come of it.

8 thoughts on “Together again, naturally

  1. I enjoy reading your posts and really like the photo of the cannellini beans & escarole. Would Tracie P. mind sharing the recipe?

  2. Ah, when Gravner is on it, wow, huh?

    I have a 2000 purchased 5 years ago. Maybe it’s time. I have six other vintages of Breg, too.

    I drank my second of two bottles of 1997 Breg – I think it’s the first orange vintage – two weeks ago and it showed very well. More elegant than the other Breg’s I’ve had.

  3. Angelo beat to me the post.
    I was going to ask the same and suggest that you might want to post your recipes in your blog My Life Italian. You guys can blog over espresso together.

  4. @King Krak I remember tasting that wine back in 2005 and 06, when I was working in NYC. It was SUPER tight back then. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Gravner but I must say that the 2000 showed stupendously the other night. I do think that the few hours of aeration allowed the wine’s aggressive tannin to mellow and the fruit to emerge… Man, I’m available, whenever you’re ready to pop the 97!

    @Anne and Angelo to borrow Charles Scicolone’s phrase, “I am blessed!” :-) thanks for stopping by Do Bianchi… I know Tracie P’s planning to post a recipe soon…

  5. ok, totally forgot to do this! i started the beans using michele scicolone’s slow-cooker method. soak beans overnight, drain, place in a crock-pot with a bay leaf and cover with about 2 inches of water. cook on low for 6-7 hours.

    now you have your beans. in another pot, place the beans (draining most of the cooking liquid) in enough chicken broth to satisfy the amount of soupiness you want in your end-dish. salt to taste and let them simmer while you prepare the greens. (remember, the beans are completely unsalted so a good 15 minute simmer in flavored liquid will do the trick.)

    after washing and soaking the escarole (the only pain about this particular green, it’s so dirty!), heat up a generous pour of olive oil in a deep pan. take 2 or three semi-smashed garlic cloves and let them gently bubble in the oil. The trick here is to tilt the pan so the cloves are submerged. do this until they area blonde color. throw in the scarola and cover quickly, as the pot will be ready to explode from the hot oil+water excitement. let it do this for a minute or two, uncover when safe, and add salt. stir it all around and continue for another few minutes. turn the heat down, and let it cook on med or med-low until cooked. I like to cook almost all of the water out of the scarola so that it fries just a bit at the end. this method is good for any greens…

    once the scarola is done, take some tongs and dose the beans with as much greens as you like, stir around for a minute then plate. drizzle with olive oil and a little cracked pepper. That’s it!

    sorry for the long comment, 2B :)

  6. and…

    you can absolutely cook the beans stovetop, but making them in the crock pot gives them SUCH a creamy texture that i’m not sure that i can ever go back.

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