Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Jaynes bids Jar adieu

Above: Erik (Benoit), Nicholas, and Jon Erickson (co-owner with his lovely wife Jayne), at the bar at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego — my “habitat” for the last 12 months. Benoit wrote me this beautiful “farewell” post at his excellent blog, AntiYelp.

Following my 3-day Dantean solo drive halfway across the country (think Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, George Jones, a little Paul Simon, a lot of Willie, and the obligatory Gram — all set to a desert landscape), I am posting today from Austin, Texas, my new home.

On Friday night, I completed my last shift at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego (although I’ll surely make a cameo appearance or two in 2009).

When I clocked out, a few friends joined and they threw me a lil’ going away party (fyi, all of my friends in music and in San Diego call me “Jar” or “the Jar,” my nickname since junior high days)…

In her quest to get me to love Bordeaux, Robin Stark brought this excellent 95 Angelus. We decanted and tasted about an hour later. I was impressed by the wine’s bright acidity (not what you see in modern-style bored-oh). Thanks, Robin!

My high school friend John Yelenosky brought this 99 Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino, which showed beautifully. (Click here and scroll down to see our high school senior pics.) John and I had a great 2008 playing music, drinking Produttori del Barbaresco, and just hanging out — like in the old days… Gonna miss you, bro!

That’s me with Jayne’s dad, the inimitable Frank Battle. In September, I officiated at his daughter’s wedding to my good friend Jon Erickson. Mr. Battle, you’ve got a lovely daughter.

Jayne and Jon and everyone at Jaynes Gastropub: I’m gonna miss you! Thanks for helping me get my pour and my groove back on in 2008!

Brunello vote, a different perspective, and some blogs I’ve been reading

Above: this photo of me and Gianfranco Soldera of Casse Basse appears in this month’s issue of The Tasting Panel Click the image to read my piece, “The Sun Also Rises, a dispatch from Montalcino” (photo by Ben Shapiro). The sun also rises in Montalcino…

My relief to read that Brunello producers had voted to “let Brunello be Brunello” last week was tempered when I read an editorial post authored by my friend and colleague Franco Ziliani, who pointed out — rightly — that among the “overwhelming majority” who voted not to change the appellation, there were also the same producers who, just days earlier, were calling for a more flexible appellation and “tolerance” for grapes other than Sangiovese.

“With this hypocritical vote,” wrote Franco, “I truly fear that Brunello di Montalcino will continue to have problems. A battle has been won, no doubt, but I fear that the war — even if it is an underground guerrilla war — will continue. Good luck, dear Brunello, I believe you will continue to need it desperately!”

Read my translation of his post at VinoWire.

Some other blogs I’ve been reading…

I’ve always been a fan of Eric’s blog and I really admire how he weaves literature and music into his posts. He and I are both fans of the Camilleri novels and our musical tastes are pretty much in tune, as well. I really liked this recent post on novelist Hillerman and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (I also liked Eric’s excellent notes in the paper of record on his Montepulciano d’Abruzzo tasting).

Susannah is relatively new to the world of Italian wine blogging and I’m glad to see another Italocentric wine blogger jump into the mix. I really like her “Women in Wine” posts. Not enough attention is given to women winemakers in Italy, a country still plagued by chauvinism.

People often ask me why I blog and a lot of folks are curious as to why I do it when it doesn’t pay. Blogging has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my entire life, professionally and personally. As obsessively as I may check my blog stats (although probably considerably less than Strappo), the blog has enriched my life far beyond the immediate narcissistic reward. It is a medium for seeing the world that has transformed my life in truly wondrous ways that I never could have imagined. I really liked this post on wine blogging by Alder, a blogger whom I admire immensely for his work ethic, integrity, and palate. His sound advice should be required reading for any budding wine blogger.

Lastly but not least, proceed with caution: “Priming Stemware = Foreplay” by Benoit over at Anti Yelp.