Bobby Stuckey: “the world’s next Dagueneau will come from Friuli”

bobby stuckey

Yesterday, Cousin Marty (above, right) and I attended what is becoming an annual tradition in the Texas wine community: a pop-up restaurant with Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey (above, left) and chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca in Boulder, CO.

timido

The two are visiting Texas, as they did last year, showing their Scarpetta line of wines.

sauvignon scarpetta friuli

I’m always geeked to taste and chat with Bobby, whose relationship with Italian wine is as much shaped by his boundless passion as by his encyclopedia knowledge and experience.

frico frasca

Among the many nuggets and insights he offered yesterday, he told the crowd of A-list Houston wine professionals that he believes “the world’s next Dagueneau will come from Friuli.”

lachlan patterson frasca

When I asked whether he thought such a wine icon would emerge from the Colli Orientali del Friuli or Collio, he said the Colli Orientali had an advantage inasmuch as its slightly cooler climate more readily delivers higher acidity levels in the wine.

scarpetta barbera

I covered the event, which held at überhip Uchi in Houston, in my post today for the Houston Press.

Brunello consortium sues & expels Soldera

I heart Montalcino

I just received a press release issued by the Brunello consortium informing recipients that the bottlers and growers association “has decided” to file a lawsuit against Gianfranco Soldera accusing him of “defamation.”

(Here’s an English-language translation of the press release issued by the consortium.)

According to its authors, the consortium has also moved to “expel” him. Even with his letter of resignation and his public announcement in late March that he had sent the letter to the body’s president, he would have remained a member until 2015 in any case, write the authors.

The defamation charge is based on an interview with Soldera published on March 26 in the Italian national daily Corriere della Sera in which Soldera alleged that consortium members had encouraged him to commit fraud when they offered to give him wine (in the aftermath of the December 2012 vandalism that purportedly destroyed six vintages of Soldera’s wine).

The charge of defamation is based on Soldera’s statement that [the consortium had] “wanted to donate wine to me. I was supposed to bottle it as if it were mine, without knowing where it came from. [This was] an unacceptable and offensive proposal, a swindling [fraud] of the consumer.”

Consortium president Fabrizio Bindocci is quoted in the press release: “We feel that the lawsuit is a necessary move,” he says, “to safeguard the public image of winemakers, Brunello, and the Montalcino territory. We were deeply offended and hurt by this and other negative claims made by Soldera regarding the Consortium.”

montalcino

A new Italian buyer in Houston @AntonioGianola @HoustonWines a profile @EatingOurWords

antonio gianola

The fact that there’s a new Italian wine buyer at a wine shop in Houston make not seem like big news to some.

But when you consider that the Houston Wine Merchant is the last independently owned wine store in Houston — one of our country’s biggest markets, the fourth largest city in the U.S., and a strong wine market despite the continuing financial crisis — there’s no denying that this is the guy that Italian winemakers are going to want to see when they pass through town.

Last week, I caught up with Antonio Gianola (above), the merchant’s new hire, one of the wine professionals I admire most in Texas.

His knowledge of Italian wine is unimpeachable and his professionalism beyond reproach.

And… he’s super nice guy.

Click here for my post on our chat over at the Houston Press.

I’m entirely geeked to see someone with his talent and experience in Italian wines buying for the Houston Wine Merchant (where I shop when I’m in Houston).

Soldera’s “water into wine” & rumors of his expulsion (& Cotarella’s zero sulfur wine)

giotto marriage at cana

Above: Giotto’s Marriage at Cana.

Italian news junkies were gripped over the weekend with political intrigue, as 87-year-old Giorgio Napolitano was elected to an unprecedented second term as President of the Italian Republic.

Most pundits predict Berlusconi as the winner of the new power balance.

(“[P]olitical turmoil is preventing leaders from taking steps to right the economy, which is struggling to emerge from the longest recession since World War II,” reports the New York Times. “Unemployment is above 11 percent, and the national debt has risen to 130 percent of gross domestic product, the second-highest ratio of debt to G.D.P. in the euro zone after Greece.”)

These developments didn’t entirely drown out the chatter from Montalcino, where — Italy’s leading wine blogger Franco Ziliani reports — there are rumors that the Brunello consortium voted in an April 4 assembly to “expel” producer Gianfranco Soldera from the body. (Here’s the thread on the recent contentious public exchange between the consortium and Soldera, who purportedly sent his letter of resignation to the group in late March.)

According to Ziliani, consortium president Fabrizio Bindocci declined to comment on the rumors but did not deny them when reached over the weekend by telephone.

On March 30, responding to Soldera’s accusations that the consortium had encouraged him to sell fraudulent wine when the body offered to give him wine (following an episode of vandalism in December 2012 that purportedly destroyed six vintages of Soldera’s wine), Bindocci told the Italian national daily Corriere della Sera: “We wanted to give him wine to help him, as is the custom among colleagues in the country. He refused the wine. Now other bottles of his suddenly appear. It would seem that he has performed the Miracle of the Marriage at Cana” (where Jesus turned water into wine).

Bindocci was referring to a press release issued by Soldera at the end of March. In it Soldera reported that he had been able to recover a considerable amount of wine that had previously been reported as destroyed in the vandal’s attack.

And so the world of Italian wine turns…

In other news…

riccardo cotarella

Above: Enologist Riccardo Cotarella, the “wine wizard,” known for his modernist approach to winemaking in Italy and widely considered a leading figure of the Italian wine establishment. Image via Empson USA.

Also via Ziliani’s blog, I have learned today that Italian wine establishment enologist Riccardo Cotarella plans to present “zero sulfur [added]” wines from 26 wineries at tasting to be held in Rome on May 16.

Details and registration info for the tasting have been posted by Bibenda, a media platform widely considered by industry observers to be the mouthpiece of “big wine” in Italy.

The wines are the result of eight years of research by Cotarella and his team of enologists, referred to as the [sic] “Wine Research Team.”

Its method is an “absolutely scientific process through which [the team was able] to identify procedures to be implemented in the vineyards and in winemaking aimed at obtaining the highest quality of wine.”

The labels of each of the wines reports: “The vine and wine accompany man on his journey throughout Civilization. Passion and scientific research help to surpass limits at times unthinkable.”

Here are the wineries listed in the post, all of them Cotarella’s clients:

Allegrini – Castello di Cigognola – Carvinea – Còlpetrone – Coppo – Di Majo Norante – Falesco – Fattoria del Cerro – Fattorie Greco – La Guardiense – La Madeleine – La Murola – Leone De Castris – Poggio Le Volpi – San Patrignano – San Salvatore – Tenuta dell’Arbiola – Tenuta di Frassineto – Tenuta San Polo – Terre Cortesi Moncaro – Terre de la Custodia – Trequanda – Villa Matilde – Villa Medoro – Domaine du Comte de Thun.

As Ziliani notes in his post, “never say never.” To which, I’ll add, stranger things have happened.

Chicken Shit Bingo with Dale Watson, a Parzen family affair

verena wiesendanger

Verena (above, holding Georgia P on her lap) has been in town since Tuesday (we’ve been hanging, cooking, and writing and recording songs together at Baby P studios).

With the weather so beautiful right now in the River City (that’s Austin for all yall who ain’t never been to Texas), we just couldn’t resist a family outing yesterday to Chicken Shit Bingo with Dale Watson at (our favorite honkytonk) Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon.

chicken shit bingo

Dale’s been playing in Austin and touring the world for more than twenty years, but his new album is bringing him into the fold of the mainstream. Check out this NPR interview he did for his new record release.

I’ve loved his music and his shows since Tracie P first turned me on to him the first time I came to Austin (nearly five years ago now!).

chili dog

We hung out in the shade in the parking lot and Georgia P had a blast checking out the chickens in Ginny’s chicken coop (above) and all the little doggies that folks bring (it’s a bring-your-own-lawn-chair and get a tub of beer affair in the parking lot outside).

Here’s a little taste of what you missed if you weren’t able to make it yesterday…

[just a little] girl with a pearl earring

girl with a pearl earring

It’s been a week filled with terrible news.

Boston, the explosion in Texas, and children going hungry in Greece.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all of our sisters and brothers in pain and in grief.

May G-d bless them.

Someday, Georgia P will learn about how hard life can be, how cruel the world.

But this spring morning in central Texas, she’s just a little girl with a pearl earring.

Buona domenica, yall…

Our palates, ourselves: I’m speaking at a California wine dinner next Tues.

palmaz vineyards

It’s become something of a running joke at Tony’s in Houston, where I curate the restaurant’s online presence and speak occasionally at wine dinners: let’s find a California wine that Jeremy will drink…

Usually, Tony (who’s become a good friend) invites me to speak when he wants to open flights of Bartolo Mascarello and Quintarelli for his guests. I’ve even presided over the occasional vertical of Gaja’s Brunello di Montalcino.

But next Tuesday, I’ll be talking about wines like Linn, Pisoni, and Palmaz (above).

My palate, myself: I’m trying to expand my sensorial lexicon, with a little help from my friends.

Here are details and reservation info.

Over the weekend, I’ll be brushing up on my California knowledge by perusing my favorite Napa Vally-centric blog, Vinsanity.

Its author, Vinogirl, took this amazing photo on Wednesday. How’s that for terroir?

red lizard napa

Nascetta CORRECT pronunciation by Valter Fissore

Click here for the complete series of Italian Grape Name and Appellation Pronunciation Project videos.

When it came to the correct pronunciation of the ampelonym (and enonym) Nascetta (nahs-CHET-tah), it seemed only right to turn to the man who has done more than anyone else to revive and respark this once popular grape from Piedmont, Valter Fissore of the Elvio Cogno winery in Novello (Langa).

Click here for a post devoted to Nascetta and Valter and the story behind his work to bring this noble (imho) grape back into the fold of Langa winemaking. In it, he explains the origins of the name (and I reference some historic documents to give context).

Nascetta became a Langhe DOC in 2010, Valter told me. And beginning in 2011, it became possible to designate the wine with the subzone [Nascetta di] Novello (where the grape variety has historic origins). Valter only began using the subzone designation with the 2012 vintage (he ascribed the delay to “technical reasons”).

I have a lot to tell about our visit and tasting at Vinitaly 2013. But for the moment, I’d like to set the record straight on how to pronounce this wonderful, age-worthy white (I have a vertical in my cellar of Valter’s Nascetta going back to 2007).

Note that an Italian speaker not familiar with the grape variety will pronounce it nah-SHEHT-tah. But the correct Langarola pronunciation, as per the above video, is nahs-CHEH-tah. (Because the grape is only cultivated in Langa, I believe that the dialectal name is the correct form to use.)

More to come…

best nascetta cogno

Massacre in Bologna, living with terror since 1980

massacre strage bologna 1980

Image via Fotografando Emily.

My backlog of tasting notes, winemaker profiles, and food photography brims over from our recent trip to Italy.

But all I can think about this morning is Monday’s tragedy in Boston.

Maybe it’s because of the fact that, for the first time, I felt compelled to shield Georgia P from the news. She’s walking and talking up a storm these days. She certainly can’t understand what the newscasters say (and the media outlets have been conscientious about not showing graphic images from the tragedy; something, as parents of a toddler, we appreciate very much). But we felt compelled, nonetheless, to make sure that she wasn’t exposed to the reports.

I can’t help but be reminded of the 1980 Massacre in Bologna, when a terrorist attack killed “killed 85 people and wounded more than 200.” A bomb went off in the crowded Bologna train station, one of the busiest traffic hubs in Italy, and a new era of terror — one that came in the Years of Lead — had dawned.

In 1980, the year I was bar mitzvah, I was hardly aware of Italy or the Bologna Massacre. But when I traveled to Italy in 1987, the tragedy was still very fresh in the minds of the Italian students with whom I lived. The first time I took a train from Padua to Rome, my cohorts urged me to visit the station memorial when I changed trains: a part of the wall destroyed by the bomb is filled with glass instead of brick to remind travelers of how the explosion blast through the station.

The thing that set the event apart was that no one was certain who was behind the attack.

Note the subtitle in the headline above: due iptoesi: attentato o sciagura? (two hypotheses: attack or accident?).

Many in Italy remember the Bologna tragedy as the beginning of the so-called strategy of tension, whereby the anonymity of the architects of terror played into the hands of the terrorists. In other words, it didn’t matter who committed the act of terror. What mattered was that people were terrorized.

I wish speed upon the authorities as they try to uncover the authors of the despicable and cowardly attack of Monday. And may G-d bless the victims and their families. Our prayers and thoughts are with them.

In other news…

shawn amos

Above, from left: Friends Charlie George, Shawn Amos, and Shawn’s wife Marta in Luca’s vineyard a week ago Saturday.

One bright spot yesterday was my friend Shawn Amos’ Huffington Post article about our trip to Italy. I loved his notion of wine as content.

Wine is content. Glass is the vessel. And the message is in the bottle…