Who cuts Jim Clendenen’s unruly hair? (and Dr. J in the Statesman)

felice partida

Above: You wouldn’t believe it but rockstar winemaker Jim Clendenen and I have the same hair stylist, the rockin’ Felice Partida. The only difference? Jim has hair…

BrooklynGuy is not the only guy who gets to go to cool tastings this week, during our industry’s fall preview season (although I have to confess I wish I had had a chance to check out the Jenny and François portfolio in New York with him).

Those highfalutin New Yorkers might be surprised by the caliber of wine folk who come out to visit with us down here in central Texas. ;-)

Yesterday, I tasted a lot of great wines, including current releases from some of my favorite Italians from importer Dalla Terra — Selvapiana (07 Chianti Rufina was KILLER), Marchesi di Grésy (05 Barbaresco was stunning), Tenuta Sant’Antonio (05 was great, always one of my favorite expressions of Amarone).

I also enjoyed tasting with Jim Clendenen, whose wines — especially the high-end bottlings — are always fresh, elegant well-balanced expressions of California Pinot Noir. And I couldn’t resist the above photo op moment: Jim and I share the same hair stylist, Felice Partida! She and I met simply because I booked an appointment last year with the first stylist available at Tracie B’s salon, James Allan, in the Rosedale neighborhood of Austin where we both live. Felice is simply the coolest and as it turns out, her big sis’ Susana is also one of the coolest wine brokers in Texas, AND Felice’s boyfriend Ronnie James is one of the town’s hottest bass players (who plays and tours with the likes of Booker T, Gary Clark Jr., and Jimmy Vaughn — not bad eh?). I highly recommend Felice: being her client comes with “fringe” benefits! ;-)

bin 36

Above: Restaurateur and winemaker Brian Duncan is one of our country’s most dynamic food and wine experts. He’s also one of the coolest guys in the biz.

I also got to catch up with rockstar restaurateur and winemaker Brian Duncan from Chicago. I thought his Pinot Noir show beautifully and the packaging alone made it worth the price of admission. The back label reads: Sexy Pinot Noir seeks short term relationship with recipes that include mushrroms, pork, beef, or poultry (No strings attached).

In other news…

Check out Mike Sutter’s excellent article in yesterday’s Austin American-Statesman, “Messages in a bottle: The mystique of the restaurant wine list.” I was thrilled that Mike interviewed me for the piece and was glad to make the point that you shouldn’t “go into a restaurant with the presumption that people are going to try and take advantage of you… When you pay for a glass of wine in a restaurant, you’re not just paying for the wine. You’re paying for the restaurant’s cellaring of the wine. You’re paying for the service of the wine, and you’re also paying for the expertise.” The other wine professionals interviewed for the piece give some great advice about how to decipher a wine list. The bottom line: go out and enjoy restaurants and their wines. That’s what they’re there for! :-)

In other other news…

Above: Tracie B and I tasted 1988 Bertani Amarone with our friends Charles and Michele Scicolone and Frank Butler earlier this year when we were on tour with Nous Non Plus.

Today, Franco published this great interview with our mutual friend (and one of my mentors) Charles Scicolone. It’s in Italian so if you’re not Italophone, check out Charles’s blog. Charles started drinking and collecting fine Italian wine in the late 70s and early 80s, long before the current renaissance of Italian food and wine. His insights into how the Italian wine industry has evolved over the last 40 years are invaluable.

In an unrelated story…

Is Berlusconi’s number finally up? The Italian courts have revoked his immunity.

Buona lettura!

Aspen revisited: it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.

It wasn’t easy and frankly, I’m not sure how I survived the harrowing ordeal: please click here to read my “notes from the road” (PDF), tales from my Aspen trip published this month in The Tasting Panel.

I met restaurateur Brian Duncan in New York last year but I had never heard him speak. He really brought the house down with his “Wines that Love Food” seminar. And 1988 Massolino Barolo Margheria? Simply and awesomely unforgettable…

Colorado Day 5: Aspen Celeb Watch! (or my new career as paparazzo)

paparazzo (1961), the name of the character Paparazzo, a society photographer in F. Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita (1960).

The selection of the name Paparazzo (which occurs as a surname in Italy) for the character in Fellini’s film has been variously explained. According to Fellini himself, the name was taken from an opera libretto; the comment is also attributed to him that the word “suggests a buzzing insect, hovering, darting, stinging”. It is also used as the name of a character by G. Gissing in By the Ionian Sea (1909), which appeared in Italian translation in 1957 and has been cited as an inspiration by E. Flaiano, who contributed to the film’s scenario. (For further possible expressive connotations of the name, it has also been noted that in the Italian dialect of Abruzzi, where Flaiano came from, paparazzo occurs as a word for a clam, which could be taken as suggesting a metaphor for the opening and closing of a camera lens; the Italian suffix -azzo).

Oxford English Dictionary, online edition

Sommelier Carlos “Charlie” Arturaola and celeb Chef José Andrés at the “must be seen at” Wines of Spain party.

Chef Andrés made a pork sausage paella for the overflowing crowd at the party, held this year in a private home (chef Andrés was assisted by chef Terri Cutrino).

Culinary legend Jacques Pepin looked fabulous as always at the Food & Wine Classic welcome party. How do the French do it?

Celeb Chef Tom Colicchio kept a lid on it as he did an interview.

Importer Bartholomew Broadbent and tele producer Josie Peltz (the better half of celeb sommelier and wine writer David Lynch).

American Express head honcho Ed Kelly and my buddy Ray Isle, Deputy Wine Editor at Food & Wine, on the other side of the velvet rope.

Restaurateur and wine world star Brian Duncan and winemaker Danilo Drocco lunched in town yesterday.

Life isn’t treating this paparazzo so bad: I drank a 1990 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande at a private dinner last night.