Beatles (forever) and Natural wine

Many wonderful and thoughtful gifts came my way this holiday season (including a fantastic new camera from Tracie P) but the one that took it over the top and the one that none of us can stop talking about was Mrs. and Rev. B’s gift of the complete Beatles on ITunes. (!!!)

Listening to the more than 250 tracks on our way back from Orange, Texas on the Sunday after the holiday, I remembered a cartoon I wrote when I was ten years old, “Jeremy vs. the Plastic People.” In it, I imagined myself protecting the world against the “Plastic People,” who had come to earth to cover the world in plastic. My plan of action? I drove the would-be invaders away by singing Beatles songs, poison to their ears.

Over the holiday break I took time out to fix a hole where the rain gets in: I reread “Jeremy vs. the Plastic People” and spent some time thinking about the ethos of the 1960s (I was born in 1967 during the “Summer of Love”) and how many of the values championed by the Beatles and the 60s generation resonate in our passion for “real wine,” “Natural wine” (whatever that term means to you), wines not made with a plastic spirit…

You can download the entire cartoon here (about 9 MB).

Thanks again, Rev. and Mrs. B! I LOVE MY BEATLES on ITunes… Beatles forever!

Italy Day 2: Bartolo’s Beret

Above: will Bartolo Mascarello’s real beret please stand up?

Although she was happy to learn that her father has achieved cult status in the über-hipster wine culture of lower Manhattan and she liked the allusion to Che Guevara, Maria Teresa Mascarello (Bartolo’s daughter) told me that the beret pictured in the Terroir wine bar t-shirt below is a photomontage. Maria Teresa didn’t know about the tee until someone printed out a copy of my post Is Mascarello the New Che Guevara? and brought it to her (she doesn’t use the internet). When I got back to NYC, I put in a call to Paul Grieco, owner of Terroir, who sells the tee. But he never called me back. I guess I’ll just have to go buy a t-shirt and send it to Maria Teresa myself.

Maria Teresa and her mother Franca (below, left) concluded that the Terroir t-shirt (below) is a photomontage.

Italy Day 2…

On April 2, I awoke in the guest room of the Castello di Zumelle, the fairy tale serenity of the Piave river valley broken only by the sound of a rooster’s cock-a-doodle-do in the distance. I bid the Dalpiva family farewell and headed south to the A4 autostrada and then west toward Piedmont and the Langhe hills where I had an appointment with Maria Teresa Mascarello of the famed Bartolo Mascarello winery, ardent defender of traditionally made, blended (as opposed to single-vineyard) Barolo.

When I showed Bartolo’s wife Franca and Maria Teresa an image of the Bartolo Mascarello t-shirt, they couldn’t get over the fact that Bartolo’s physiognomy has taken on such an aura in the U.S. They loved it. (In the photo above, they are viewing an image of the t-shirt on my laptop.) They also greatly appreciated the text written on the verso of the tee, “Bartolo Mascarello, my wine revolution…”

Before we went to tour the cellar and taste some wines together, Maria Teresa told me that her father only allowed her to install a phone in their home and adjoining winery in 1989, “after the Berlin wall fell.” He insisted that the phone be listed not under the winery’s name but rather in Maria Teresa’s name, as it remains today.

As we were tasting the 2004 Barolo, the cellar master came up to the tasting room and brought us a taste of the 2005: they had just finished blending the wine in that instant and we were literally the very first to taste it. What a thrill… (I’ll be posting a tasting note together with a profile of the Bartolo Mascarello winery next week on

Above: a collection of old bottles in the Bartolo Mascarello cellar.

In other news…

Tonight is the first night of Passover and I’m very happy to report that I am spending the holiday with my family in La Jolla (something I haven’t done in too many years).

Last night I had dinner at my favorite San Diego restaurant, Jaynes, where I met owner Jayne Battle’s father Frank Battle (above, left with daughter Jayne).

Frank grew up in Liverpool and is the “same age as Paul McCartney.” He knew all the Beatles growing up and he also knew their long-time confidant, the true “fifth Beatle,” Neil Aspinall, who recently passed away. Frank told me that he also met Beatles’ impresario Brian Epstein when he went to buy records at his record shop. How cool is that?

Above: the fresh halibut served over pea tendrils and fingerling potatoes at Jaynes, paired with 2006 Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir. Yes, there are some California wines that I like.