Do Bianchi Christmas Six-Pack 2014: happy holidays yall!

Taste Bele Casel Prosecco Colfòndo with me on Weds. Dec. 17 in San Francisco at Biondivino, one of my favorite wine shops in the U.S. Please click here for details.

best rosato italyAbove: sometimes we forget that one of the coolest things about wine is how beautiful it is. That gorgeous hue is just one of the reasons why I love to serve my friend Paolo Cantele’s Negroamaro rosé at Christmas.

Do Bianchi Christmas Six-Pack 2014

Belisario 2012 Verdicchio di Matelica Vigneti
Laimburg 2013 Riesling
Cantele 2013 Negroamaro Rosato
Il Falchetto 2011 Barbera d’Asti Scorrone
Produttori del Barbaresco 2012 Langhe Nebbiolo
Marenco 2013 Moscato d Asti Strev

$116 plus tax, shipping & handling
($19 average bottle price)

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Wines will ship via FedEx on Monday of next week
in plenty of time for delivery before the holiday.

California residents only.

I regret that I no longer accept AMEX.
But you can pay by Visa, MC, check or Chase QuickPay.

One of the things that people don’t realize about my wine club is that I hope I don’t sell out the wines: I want to drink some, too!

Seriously, the wines that I include in my six-packs are wines that Tracie P and I drink at home. We prize wholesomeness and food-friendliness in our wines and especially with Tracie still nursing, it’s so important to us that the wines we drink at home are not just good but also good for us.

As with previous offers, the wines are ordered in the way I will serve them at Christmas (and believe me: this is what we will be drinking in Orange, Texas, on the Louisiana border, at my in-laws Rev. and Mrs. B’s house — unless of course the wine sells out!).

Belisario 2012 Verdicchio di Matelica Vigneti

Verdicchio is one of the sexiest categories of Italian wine right now. In the last six-pack, we did an older Verdicchio from Jesi, near the Adriatic coast. This one is from Matelica, a valley that lies inland in the mountains. With higher elevation and cooler summer evenings, Matelica delivers wines with more nuanced floral notes than Jesi, where fruit tends to dominate. Belisario is an organic grower and this wine is as wholesome as it is delicious.
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Just the right Ruché di Castagnole di Monferrato

crivelli ruche castagnole monferratoThe memory is so clear in my mind: a spring day in 2000 in New York when I woke to read Howard Goldberg’s note in the New York Times on “the obscure, rustic… Ruché di Castagnole di Monferrato.”

Babbo had just hit its full stride and September 11 was yet to bring dark days to the city.

I was living in Brooklyn and it felt like a revolution in Italian wine was happening: every day, it seemed, a new indigenous Italian grape variety was being introduced to Americans.

I was reminded of Goldberg’s “Wine Under $20” column last night when Tracie P and I opened a stupendous bottle of 2012 Ruché by Crivelli, one of my favorite Piedmont producers.

It had been sent to me by the California importer, a client of mine.

Some people like to say a wine is “alive in the glass.”

This wine was electric in the glass, with zinging acidity and gorgeous, juicy, bright red fruit. It paired wonderfully with a inch-thick porterhouse pork chop that I served in its jus after deglazing the pan with white wine.

This is a really special wine, folks.

I tasted with Marco Crivelli (below) some years ago in Piedmont. He’s a nutty and brilliant guy. I love that he’s used a self-portrait as Bacchus on the label of his Ruché.

marco crivelli

One of the more remarkable things I saw in Italy: the Villa Collazzi

pietro porcinai architettoAbove: the pool at the Villa Collazzi designed by Pietro Porcinai, a pioneering landscape architect, active in Italy from the 1930s through the 1960s.

Enogastronomy has become my professional focus over the last fifteen years or so.

But every time I return to Italy, I am reminded by what first drew me there: the Italians’ rich cultural and artistic legacy and the country’s many extraordinary works of art and immense natural beauty.

During my November trip, I took a break from the wine and food trail to visit the remarkable Villa Collazzi just outside of Florence.

villa collazzi florentine rentalAbove: a shot of the pool with the villa in the background. Note how the villa façade is reflected with perfect symmetry in the body of water.

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Jon Stewart’s “race sommeliers” & America’s sommelier saturation

Csaba Chubby OvegesAbove: Little Nell sommelier Csaba “Chubby” Oveges, who has achieved “advanced” standing in the Court of Master Sommeliers, was one of the wine professionals who volunteered to pour at the Boulder Burgundy Festival last month.

About five minutes into his monologue on Monday night, Jon Stewart was riffing on claims by certain talking heads that the current unrest in Ferguson, Missouri had been incited by “racial arsonists.”

You have your “your race grifters, your race counterfeiters, your race financial advisors,” he told his audience, and then quipped: “your race sommeliers. What’s wrong with a nice white?”

(Here’s the clip. The joke comes about five minutes in.)

Tracie P and I couldn’t help but reflect on how the term sommelier and the notion of fine wine service have become interwoven in the fabric of pop culture today (we’re fans of the show).

jay fletcher master sommelierAbove: Volnay producer Guillaume d’Angerville (left) and Master Sommelier Jay Fletcher, who was recently profiled by Aspen Peak magazine. Many current and aspiring Master Sommeliers cite Jay as a mentor.

One of the things that impressed me the most at the Boulder Burgundy Festival last month was a comment by Master Sommelier Jay Fletcher, who spoke at the event’s “Old and Rare” tasting, which featured wines from the cellar of the Guild of Sommeliers.

“This year,” he said, “the Court of Master Sommeliers has more than 600 applicants” who want to join its ranks. “We simply can’t handle the number of applications.”

Five years ago, he told me, the number of applicants was around 150.

I was reminded of this yesterday when a reader of my blog wrote me to say that she was sorry that she’d be missing a tasting in San Francisco where I’m pouring in a few weeks.

“I’ll be at the Montage in Laguna,” she wrote, “for [my] Court Certification test.”

Her message, I’m sure, was intended as much to express her regret as it was to update me on her progress in obtaining a coveted post-nominal.

Six years ago, when I moved to Texas, few could have envisioned the pervasive nature of this new fine wine culture and the saturation — as Jay observed — of wine professionals in our country.

Yes, the 2012 film “Somm” played a significant role in disseminating the archetype in American pop culture. But the wine professional tsunami was already in motion when it inspired the movie.

The fact that Stewart could so readily use the term sommelier and elicit a hardy laugh is a gauge of just how familiar the term — and concept — has become among Americans.

Now, whether or not Stewart’s joke was in good taste is another question — a question of taste for the sommeliers to decide.

Yesterday, I posted notes from the extraordinary D’Angerville seminar on the Boulder Burgundy Festival blog.

Taste with me Dec. 17 in San Francisco at one of my favorite wine shops @Biondivino

jeremy parzen hotdogAbove: no, we won’t be tasting any Chicago chardogs on December 17 in San Francisco but Biondivino owner Ceri Smith has a wonderful surprise pairing to go with the Bele Casel Prosecco Colfòndo that I’ll be pouring.

I’m thrilled to share the news that on Wednesday, December 17, I will be pouring Bele Casel Prosecco Colfòndo at one of my favorite wineshops in America, Ceri Smith’s Biondivino in San Francisco’s Fillmore District (Green at Polk).

I’ve known and admired Ceri for many years now: she’s one of our country’s leading experts on Italian wine and I have loved and enjoyed her selection of mostly Italians since we first met back in 2008.

She’s been a fan of one our favorite wineries and my client, Bele Casel, since it first came to this country. Bele Casel’s Prosecco Colfòndo — an undisgorged, metodo ancestrale, old-school Prosecco — is a wine that we pour by the glass at Sotto in Los Angeles (where I co-author the wine list), a wine that I regularly offer to my wine club, and a wine that Tracie P and I drink gladly in our home.

It’s salty and crunchy, wholesome and refreshing, and I’m entirely stoked to be sharing it with San Fransiscans week after next. Details follow… Hope to see you there!

Bele Casel Prosecco Colfòndo Tasting
Wednesday, December 17, 6-8 p.m.
Biondivino
1415 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-2320
Google map

best prosecco san francisco

Scenes from the Boulder Burgundy Festival Grand Tasting

rajat parr burgundy wineAbove: super cool Rajat Parr (right) and his sales manager Natalie Vaclavik (from Texas!) poured Rajat’s Burgundy négociant project Maison L’Orée.

The wines at the Boulder Burgundy Festival Grand Tasting a week ago Sunday were off-the-charts in terms of quality, price, and exclusivity.

But that’s not what impressed me the most about the event.

Check out my post for the festival’s blog here.

I’ll be posting throughout the week on my experience there. Thanks for following!

A very special guest for Thanksgiving 2014 (and possibly the best pairing ever)

thanksgivingIt was a very special Thanksgiving for the Parzen family this year.

We celebrated the holiday in Tracie P’s hometown, Orange, Texas, on the Louisiana border, with all the traditional fixings.

Uncle Tim made the turkey: he added a can of orange juice concentrate to his brine, he told us, and the sweetness of the fruit juice added a nice zest to the meat, which was tender and moist throughout. It was one of the best un-split roast turkeys I’ve ever had (many gourmets will separate the breast from the dark meat to allow for different cooking times, thus ensuring a moist outcome).

barone pizziniFor the wine pairings, I brought along a couple of wines from my clients.

The Barone Pizzini 2008 Franciacorta Satèn was outstanding and I am now convinced that Franciacorta is the perfect wine for the Thanksgiving feast, with the meal’s wide range of aromas, flavors, saltiness, and sweet.

It was the rich fruit in this wine that really won me over as a pairing. As a Franciacorta big wig recently put it, Franciacorta is a wine first and a sparkling wine second. The wine’s “vinous” character just worked so well at the table, delivering white and stone fruit with the savory meat but also zinging acidity that held its own with Tracie P’s homemade cranberry sauce.

The other hit was Cantele’s 2009 big and bold Amativo.

Tracie’s dad Rev. B. loved its dark fruit character and structure and it worked great as a meditative wine to pair with Thanksgiving football (the Cowboys played, of course). Uncle Tim loved it so much that I sent him home with a bottle!

jeremy parzen familyBut the biggest treat this year was a visit from my mom, Grandma Judy.

She’s been out to Texas to spend time with the girls on many occasions. But this was the first time that Georgia P could really “connect” with her.

Georgia, who will be three years old in a few weeks, is chatting up a storm these days and she and her grandma spent some really wonderful time together, talking about favorite books and singing songs (Georgia now sings the entire score to the musical “Annie” — no joke).

Mom, I know all too well what a pain it is to travel these days and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you braving the journey to visit with us.

To hear Georgia P say, “Where are you, grandma? Let’s read a book!”, was sweet music to my ears.

In other news…

Check out Alfonso’s post on Amarone 101: “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fruit-Bomb.”

Great post and great to hear people talking about Amarone.

In other other news…

Did you see that Joe Bastianich has published a new book in Italian, Giuseppino [Little Jospeh], co-written in Italian with one of Italy’s top food bloggers, Sara Porro (who is super cool and talented).

In it, he tells the story of “his return home” to Italy and talks about why he spends more time in Italy these days than in the U.S.

Many here don’t realize what a huge star he is in Italy. His role on the stateside “MasterChef” has made him a national attraction here as well. But in Italy, where “MasterChef” is one of the culinary-minded country’s most popular shows ever, he is a megawatt celebrity.