Coda di Volpe: Italian Grape Name and Appellation Pronunciation Project

With preparation for the arrival of Baby P and work at full speed in the crush of autumn, life’s been a little chaotic lately…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted in the Italian Grape Name and Appellation Pronunciation Series. And so I was thrilled when Wine State of Mind and Pizzeria Biga mentioned on the Twitter that they’ve found the videos useful.

Yesterday I called one of my favorite Campania producers, Paola Mustilli, and asked her if she’d contribute a few videos. Thanks, again, Paola, for the videos! They’re awesome!

Her Coda di Volpe entry is just the first in a series of Campania grape names she sent me and I decided to post it as the first because I’m still thinking about Coda di Volpe after reading Fringe Wine’s excellent post on the variety.

There’ll be others to come before the Christmas holiday. So please stay tuned and thanks again for speaking Italian grapes!

Buon weekend, yall!

Aglianico: Grape Name Pronunciation Project


Since I launched the Italian Grape Name Pronunciation Project one month ago today, the most requested ampelonym has been Aglianico.

The grape name poses a challenge for non-Italophones because of the phoneme gli (in Aglianico).

In Italian, the sound that corresponds to gli is what is called a palatal lateral approximant (click the link for the Wiki page) and is represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet by the following symbol:


For the video, I have rendered the grape name as follows:


Italian speakers will note that Bruno — the nicest dude, one of my favorite growers of Aglianico, and a native of Campania where Aglianico is used to make some of the region’s and Italy’s most noble wines — pronounces gli with a softer inflection than his counterparts in the North of Italy, where a five- as opposed to seven-vowel system makes the i in gli more closed (more nasal).

Thanks for reading and speaking (and drinking) Italian grapes!

Oh yeah, THAT’s what Fiano d’Avellino tastes like!

If only you could have been a fly on the wall in our dining room at the moment that Tracie P drew that first drop of Fratelli Urciuolo 2008 Fiano d’Avellino to her lips last night. “Oh yeah,” she said with a joyous reverence, “THAT’s what Fiano d’Avellino tastes like.”

For all the blessings of our lives, there’s (almost) nothing that makes me happier than bringing home a wine that my super fine lady will enjoy. “This is the Fiano d’Avellino that I remember drinking in Naples and Ischia,” she said, speaking of the nearly five years she lived, worked, and cooked in Campania before returning to Texas.

With bright acidity, great minerality, and a characteristic “toasty” note that you often find in real Fiano d’Avellino (as Tracie P noted), the wine paired beautifully with another flavor system that she brought back with her from Campania: cannellini beans cooked with escarole and chicken stock and ditalini (tube-shaped pasta) — a southern Italian pasta e fagioli. Fanfriggin’ DELICIOUS people!

After being properly nourished, the band retreated once again into the Parzen studio, where we continue to write, record, and hash out the songs for the new album that we will begin “tracking” on Sunday here in Austin.

I’ll spare you the details of my digestive cycle, but the morning after a fantastic meal of real Fiano and Tracie P’s “greens and beans,” as she likes to call the dish, I AM READY TO MAKE MUSIC! :-)

Facebook and oxidized stinky Fiano pair nicely

Above: Fiano d’Avellino grapes on the De Conciliis estate in Cilento (Campania, Italy).

Isn’t Facebook a trip? It gives us a view unto the personal lives and sometimes very intimate details of people whose lives would not ordinarily intersect with ours in the real-time world (as opposed to the virtual world). The vicissitudes we witness in this strange new medium are sometimes moving in ways — perhaps because of the degree of separation yet lack of alientation — unexpected and often welcome.

I had never met him, save for a phone interview I did with winemaker Bruno de Conciliis many years ago. After I tasted his 2004 Antece last year at Bacaro in Los Angeles, I looked for him on Facebook because I wanted to write him and tell him how much I liked this stinky, oxidized expression of Fiano d’Avellino, one of Campania’s most ancient grape varieties and one that has a enjoyed a renaissance in recent decades: it’s macerated with skin contact for 7 days, he wrote me, and, as he put it in a Facebook message, “we try for oxidation.” His approach is to “let what easily oxidizes oxidize. The rest is welcomed.” The resulting unfiltered wine (aged in large old-oak casks) is delightful, rich and aromatic, with some tannic structure. It’s a great example of natural wine. Bruno rightly calls it Antece or the ancients (akin to the Italian, antici; the penultimate syllable is the tonic): gauging from my knowledge of ancient winemaking (as described in Columella and Pliny), I believe that this wine is very similar to the wine produced in antiquity (and probably until the 18th century in Italy). (It reminds me of IWG’s excellent post, Interview with the Ancients.)

Bruno wrote that it’s his favorite wine he’s ever made and he sent me these photos. Facebook and wine seem to pair nicely together, don’t they?

In other news…

When is Brooklynguy gonna get a Facebook? Fugedaboudit.