Aspen Food & Wine: our celebrity-splashed weekend

rick bayless cooking showWhat a thrill for me to be invited to participate in a panel on Italian wines at the swank Aspen Food & Wine festival this year!

Tracie P and I decided to make it a romantic vacation (our first time away from Georgia P and Lila Jane for more than one night!).

But after Tracie P spotted Rick Bayless (above) at my first panel on Friday morning, she swooned and said, “ok, we can go now… I just saw Rick Bayless!”

That’s Rick taking a shot of the flight of wines poured at our seminars.

jacques pepinAfter the first seminar Friday morning, we headed up to the main tasting tent for some A-list celeb watching.

Tracie P had her heart set on seeing Jacques Pépin and the paparazzi gods delivered right out of the box.

As soon as we entered the tent, there they were (from left, above): Marcus Samuelsson, Eric Ripert, Claudine Pépin, Jacques, and Tom Colicchio.

gaja 1988 san lorenzoOf course, it wouldn’t be a true Aspen experience if we didn’t get invited to some insane party where ridiculous wines were being poured.

My highlight wine, liberally poured in a suite in the Residences at the Little Knell, was the 1988 Gaja Barbaresco San Lorenzo.

So many look to 82 and 85 as great vintages from the decade in Italy. And of course, 1989 was one of the best in Piedmont in the last 30 years.

The 1988 was no 89, but, as Angelo once told me, it was a “good quality” vintage. And man, it showed gorgeously on Friday. A beautiful expression of Nebbiolo…

franciacorta toastBut the biggest thrill for me was pouring and speaking about a Franciacorta wine in the company of bona fide marquee-name Italians like Tignanello and Vajra’s Barolo Bricco delle Viole, among other “big and bold” labels as the seminar’s title promised.

At our first tasting on Friday, I asked the roughly 120 guests if any of them had ever tasted a Franciacorta. Only one person in the audience raised a hand.

We poured a Satèn by one of the appellation’s historic and most respected estates. And by all accounts, it was enjoyed by all present.

My heartfelt thanks go to seminar organizer Shayn Bjornholm, master sommelier and brilliant speaker and educator, for inviting a rock ‘n’ roller me and allowing me to present an “outside-the-box” wine.

Thanks also to fellow panelists Joe Campanale, NYC celeb restaurateur and Food Network star, and master sommelier and Aspen veteran Rob Bigelow. I felt like a nanus gigantum humeris insidens.

Thanks also go to our lovely friend and super wine pro Melanie Kaman who got us on the guest list for the fancy party.

And thanks, most of all, to my beautiful wife Tracie P, for believing in me and my crazy career as an Italian wine scribe. That was one of the most fun weekends of my life, thanks to you, beautiful lady! It was tough to be away from the girls for so long but I’m so glad we did that.

You’ll always be my number-one food celeb…

jeremy parzenw wife

2 thoughts on “Aspen Food & Wine: our celebrity-splashed weekend

  1. so glad i got to tag along! it was so nice to be in such a beautiful place with you :) you did good work for the wine world, spreading the word about Francicorta, 2B.

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