This woman made me drink Merlot

I profiled Houston wine professional Marcy Jimenez today for the Houston Press. Here’s the link (and the story about the Merlot is true; it was a Merlot and Dolcetto blend by Trinchero, one of my favorite Natural winemakers).

In other news…

So many wines and so little time… I haven’t had a chance to write up my notes from last night’s dinner at Tony’s: 98 and 03 Bartolo Mascarello, 85 Tignanello, and 90 Quintarelli Recioto Riserva. Each one of the wines was fascinating in its own right and I’ll post my impressions early next week.

In the meantime, buon weekend yall!

My photo in Forbes and 90 Quintarelli Recioto Riserva tonight @TonyVallone

Stranger things have happened: last week Forbes contacted me asking if they could use a photo (above) from the blog for the magazine.

Here’s the link to the piece.

The image comes from my of the “most memorable meals” of 2011, a dinner in the restaurant of my friend and client Tony Vallone.

Here’s the link to my post on the repast, wherein 98 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, 98 Quintarelli Amarone, and 90 Quintarelli Bandito (!!!) were all consumed with great joy.

Tonight at Tony’s, we’ll be opening the 90 Quintarelli Recioto Riserva: I’ll be speaking about the wines at a dinner for forty persons.

Stay tuned…

With @LouAmdur @SottoLA next week (and helping Italian earthquake victims)

Tracie P and I cried the day that Lou (above) announced the closing of Lou on Vine earlier this year.

Lou will be joining me (again) on Thursday, July 26 for tasting and conversation at Sotto where I curate the wine list (and Tracie P will be there, too).

Here are the details.

It should be a super fun night.

In other news…

The Non Ci Fermiamo (We’re Not Stopping) project came to my attention via Giovanni’s blog.

Based in the province of Mantua (Lombardy), in one of the areas most severely affected by recent earthquakes, the initiative seeks to connect donors with scores of families left homeless by the catastrophe.

As part of the campaign, the young people of the town Quistello (one of the worst hit) are also selling Mantuan foods like mostarda, local rice cultivars, and torta sbrisolana, the classic (and extremely delicious) almond cake.

Check out the site here.

Clos Cibonne & fried green tomatoes, a sublime pairing (TY @RandallGrahm)

“What would Freud say if he were alive today?” goes the set-up for a joke by one of my favorite Italian comedians, Alessandro Bergonzoni. The punchline: “I sure have lived a long life.”

In my own jejune stab at comedy, I ask: is it a stretch for me to call a pairing of Clos Cibonne oxidative rosé from Tibouren and fried green tomatoes sublime? What would Longinus say if he were alive today? There’s no doubt in my mind that he’d answer: “I sure have lived a Longinus life.”

In many ways, the thought of pairing this fantastic old world wine — made in large, old casks using film-forming yeasts — with a staple of East Texas cooking seems a stretch. But at the same time, no two notions could be more aligned: the sweet and sour flavors of summer (via our CSA and Grandma Georgia’s cast-iron skillet) plucked our palates in perfect harmony with the marine notes of this quintessentially Provençal wine.

The master of paronomasia (“waiting for Godello”) Randall Grahm first turned me on to this wine over lunch in Los Angeles last year and when I saw it in our market here in Austin, I grabbed as many bottles as I could and ran right home to Tracie P (whom, I knew, would love this wine).

When she breads and fries summer tomatoes in Georgia P’s namesake’s cast-iron skillet, the centers of the rounds become gelatinous and when you bite into them, summer wraps around your tongue. The dry flavors of the Tibouren rosé were the perfect counterpoint.

Thank you, again, Randall, and thank you, Longinus, for giving us the sublime!

It is a law of Nature that in all things there are certain constituent parts, coexistent with their substance. It necessarily follows, therefore, that one cause of sublimity is the choice of the most striking circumstances involved in whatever we are describing, and, further, the power of afterwards combining them into one animate whole. The reader is attracted partly by the selection of the incidents, partly by the skill which has welded them together. For instance, Sappho, in dealing with the passionate manifestations attending on the frenzy of lovers, always chooses her strokes from the signs which she has observed to be actually exhibited in such cases. But her peculiar excellence lies in the felicity with which she chooses and unites together the most striking and powerful features.

—[Pseudo-]Longinus, On the Sublime

06 Barolo Garblèt Sué, birthday fiorentina & the aeration condom

This year’s birthday celebration centered around a porterhouse cooked alla fiorentina: the steak is cooked upright so that the T in the t-bone release its flavor and the entire steak heats through without cooking the sirloin and tenderloin. This year, Tracie P bought me the steak three days before my birthday and we dry-aged it in the fridge (you just put it on a plate, uncovered, and let it dry out). It’s the simplest thing but it makes such a big difference in the tenderness and flavor of the beef.

When you see the marrow begin to bubble in the bone, quickly grill the steak on either side at high heat.

We paired with a bottle of 2006 Barolo Garblèt Sué by Brovia, one of my all-time favorite Nebbiolo growers and bottlers.

The Garblèt Sué vineyard is on the Bricco Fiasco and its name comes from the name of the farm that lies below, Garbelletto Superiore. (The dialectal inflection of the toponym, Garblèt Sué, was authorized in new legislation that went into effect in 2010 allowing for added geographical mentions, as they are called in red-tape jargon.)

Honestly, the wine was still very tight, even though I had opened it early in the day to let it aerate. But that didn’t diminish our enjoyment of this classic expression of Barolo from Castiglione Falletto, the township that lies virtually in the center of the appellation and is known for its balance of elegance and fruit (imparted by the more generous Tortonian soils to the west of the Barolo-Alba road) and opulence and tannic structure (delivered by the austere Helvetian soils to the east). Even though this wine wasn’t anywhere near its peak, a Saturday night with a Barolo by Brovia is always an undeniable and unforgettable treat for me (thanks again, Tracie P!). This was the second 2006 by Brovia that I’ve tasted this year and I’ve been impressed with how fresh and bright the vintage is showing from Langa.

Beyond the new flip flops (much needed) and the gorgeous brown agate cufflinks (much appreciated) that Tracie P gave me for my birthday this year, she has given me the greatest gift that anyone ever could: our little Georgia P, whose smile could light an entire city block and whose sweetness can wash away even the bluest blues.

We have so much to be grateful for and this year’s celebration of my birthday (my forty-fifth year!) reminded me of how rich our lives have been in the last year and a half. I love both of them so very much…

In other news…

Over at the Houston Press this morning, I explain why I don’t decant wines like the Garblèt Sué and offered a trick for allowing wine to breath over the course of the entire day: the “aeration condom,” I call it.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all the birthday wishes on the Facebook and the Twitter! :)