Sneaking Saignée de Sorbée into the best little honkytonk in Texas

From the “it sure is good to be back in Texas” department…

ginny's little longhorn

Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon (Austin, Texas) was literally overflowing with bodies yesterday for Chicken Shit Bingo and Dale Watson.

ginny's dogs

Folks were there for the music, the bingo, and of course, the free chili dogs — “Ginny Dogs” as the song goes.

We like to sit out back, where folks gather round in lawn chairs and listen to the music through speakers Ginny’s got out there.

Alfonso and SO Kim were in town and so we snuck the most amazing bottle of Champagne into Ginny’s (given to us for our wedding by one of the nicest people I know in the wine business, Scott. Thanks again, man! You R O C K!): the Saignée de Sorbée by Vouette et Sorbée, “one of the most original wines in all of Champagne,” to borrow a phrase from one of the leading Champagne writers on our planet.

Jeremy Parzen

You’re not supposed to bring wines to Ginny’s but Ginny has a soft spot for Tracie P (it’s not hard to understand why!).

The Saignée de Sorbée may not be for everyone, but, man, it is simply so unbelievably good. So drinkable, so gorgeously fruity (think boysenberry), with alcohol, gentle tannin, and food-friendly acidity singing in four-part harmony like an old-fashioned love song. Please read Peter’s exquisite write-up of this wine. We had the 2006 (“R06”), disgorged in February 2009.

Back at the ranch, Tracie P whipped up some bucatini with tuna bottarga that Alfonso brought back from his recent, amazing trip to Sicily.

Life certainly could be worse… It sure is good to be back in Texas…

Syrahlandia (no matter where you go, there you are)

Above: Yesterday was devoted to a sprucing up of our patio for summer, including the purchase of a grill and the grilling of some pork chops and sausage. Tracie P made her classic penne al pomodoro and an amazing cilantro, avocado, and black-eyed pea salad. Palazzino Chianti Classico — grapey and juicy — paired nicely with all of the above.

When you go to Italy, do you order hamburgers, that quintessential dish of Americana? I know of at least one ex-pat blogger who has probably tried (perhaps inspired by nostalgia?) every hamburger in Rome. At nearly every instance, she emerges bitterly disappointed.

Last week, while working in New York City with some Italian colleagues, I was amazed at one woman’s continued bewilderment at the American convention of tipping. “Why should I tip? Why is it not already included in the bill like in Italy? It said ‘tip’ on the credit card receipt so I thought it was included?” It was a sort of cognitive dissonance: despite my assurance that tipping is a widely embraced convention of the U.S. restaurant industry (where her client hopes to sell its wines one day), she just couldn’t wrap her mind around the thought of leaving a tip.

As St. Augustine once said, in a observation about fasting schedules in Milan as opposed to Rome, when in Rome, order a hamburger.

My bewilderment at her bewilderment came to mind when a friend forwarded me a tweet from a man who needs no introduction here, James Suckling:

    Tasted some wonderful Syrahs! 2007 is a great year for Syrah in Tuscany!!

When in Tuscany, do as the Tuscans do: drink Syrah (???).

Last week I found myself bewildered at a quasi apology that Mr. Suckling offered for a wine he gave 92 points out of 100 (a hefty score in a world driven by score-based sales revenue): “Not a big wine,” he wrote of the wine made from 100% Sangiovese, an indigenous grape of Tuscany, “but balanced and pretty.”

Thinking of my colleague the reluctant tipper and the ex-pat in Rome who orders hamburgers, it occurred to me that — like Plato’s man in the cave — we all see the world as projected by the lens of our previous experiences.

It makes perfect sense that Mr. Suckling would apologize from the lighter-bodied style of Il Poggione’s traditional-style Brunello since he clearly loves the richer, “big” style of (international grape, traditionally grown in the Rhône valley) Syrah grown in Tuscany. (I know for example that he loves the wines made by my and his friend Cinzia Merli at Le Macchiole, where a 100% Syrah is vinified in a opulent, rich style, definitely a “big” wine.)

In Italian you say, paesi che vai, usanze che trovi. In other words, you will find different customs in every village or country where you go.

When in Syrahlandia, do as the Syrahlandians do. Drink Syrah.

Or, in the words of Buckaroo Banzai, Hey, hey, hey, hey-now. Don’t be mean; we don’t have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

Buona domenica, ya’ll!

Piedmontese dialect: a wonderful relic from the early fascist era

I don’t have time to post on my research or findings today but I wanted to share this image of a wonderful book I was able to track down yesterday at the New York Public Library: Dizionario Etimologico del Dialetto Piemontese, by Attilio Levi, printed in 1927 by G.B. Paravia in Turin.

Note the classic fascist-era design of the cover and the motto inscribed in the center: in labore fructus, labor brings fruit, clearly a nod to Piedmont agriculture at the time (I’ll have more to say on this later).

One of the most fascinating things about the book is that it was compiled by a Piedmontese Jew, Attilio Levi, born 1863 according to bibliographic records. (Think of the many famous Jewish Piedmontese writers, intellectuals, and scientists from that period, like Carlo Levi and Primo Levi, to name a few.)

The book was printed in 1927, the fifth year of the fascist regime following Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922, 11 years before Mussolini adopted Hitler’s racial laws in 1938, when Jewish intellectuals were forced to abandon their posts as university professors, publishers, etc. From what I can gather using, Levi was a linguist and philologist, probably based in Turin, and he had even been published in English as early as 1920.

A wonderful find of a forgotten tome yesterday at the New York Public Library.

Thanks for reading! Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

I’d make love to her in a New York minute…

and take my Texas time doing it…

You get the idea ;-)

New York City was a lot of fun, but, man, it’s good to be back in Texas and reunited with that super-fine lady of mine

Now playing chez Tracie and Jeremy P:

Ever since I’ve known ya you’ve belonged to someone else
So we’ve never talked about romance
But I think it’s time I told you the way I’ve always felt
And what I’d do if I got the chance

I’d make love to you in a New York minute
and take my Texas time doing it
I’d do you every way but wrong
I’d make love to you in a New York minute
and take my Texas time doing it
I’d prove to you that in my arms is where you belong

Don’t misunderstand me I wouldn’t steal you from your man
But if he’s ever fool enough to leave
Well you know how to reach me and you know where I am
And you know what I’d do if you were free

I’d make love to you in a New York minute
and take my Texas time doing it
I’d do you every way but wrong
I’d make love to you in a New York minute
and take my Texas time doing it
I’d prove to you that in my arms is where you belong

My guiltiest pleasure: New York libraries

New York Public Library

It’s been a crazy week for me in New York City, rich with food and wine experiences, interesting people (friends new and old), and stimulating conversations, flavors, and aromas. I’m happy to be heading home to my beloved Tracie P but before I go I’m indulging in what is my guiltiest pleasure: New York libraries! I’m posting today from a reading room where I’ve spent many, many joyous hours (first as visiting grad student and then as a New York resident) at the New York Public Library (above).

Earlier in the week, I visited one of my other favorite haunts, the Butler Library at Columbia University (the reference room, above). (Nota bene: while the NYPL is open to the public, readership privileges are required at Butler so be sure to make the appropriate arrangements before visiting; it’s actually very easy and simple to get a day pass, but some legwork is required.)

What does this have to do with (Italian) wine? I’m doing a little research for an upcoming post on vineyard designation names (a few issues I wasn’t able to resolve with my reference library at home).

Aaaaahhhhh, if only I were a wealthy man, I’d spend my days in libraries, poring over old tomes, looking for forgotten words, parsing verses culled from Barbaric odes

I also indulged in another guilty pleasure this week: New York pizza!

Thanks for reading and sharing my guilty pleasures. See you back in Texas!

$1 oysters and zero sulfur Garganega? Hell YEAH!

According to its website, La Biancara’s 100% Garganega “Pico” is 100% sulfur free. And I’m here to tell you that it’s 100% friggin’ delicious. Pair that with $1 oysters during happy hour at The Ten Bells on the Lower East Side and you get the following tasting note: HELL YEAH!

I am so unbelievably slammed this morning that I don’t have time to post my thoughts on why The Ten Bells is the hippest wine bar in the U.S. (and definitely in the top 5 for me).

Hey, wait a minute! Is that Muddy Boots horsing around with Dolcetto producer Anna Bracco at The Ten Bells?

In other news…

I also regret not having time to post about the off-the-charts meal I shared with BrooklynGuy and BrooklynLady at Aliseo in Brooklyn (where else?) last night.

But lest Alfonso think he corners the market on great food photography, here’s a taste of what’s to come…

Eat your heart out, Alfonso!

Three days too many…

Sunday she left New York…

Monday I missed her…

Tuesday I could barely take it…

Here in NYC, I’ve been up since 6 a.m. working on my computer and I have an insane day ahead of me… but my mind and my heart are back in Texas with her… It’s already been three days too many… Man, I miss her…

Two awesome (new world) wines we tasted at Alice’s

Tracie P and I had a short but delightful visit chez Alice on Sunday afternoon and what visit with Alice would be complete without a proper wine tasting?

I was entirely geeked to taste the 2002 Vat 1 Semillon by Tyrell’s and I was blown away by how good the La Clarine Farm’s 2008 was — especially considering how long the wine had been open…

But, more than anything else, I was entirely blown away by the fact that we tasted two new world wines at her house! And they were both delicious… (Note her tasting notes on the label of the La Clarine Farms… Okay, so I admit, I was STAR STRUCK!)

Thanks again, Alice!