1971 Monsecco (Gattinara) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby G

A couple of my favorite rock stars were over on Friday night, to meet Georgia P and to share a special bottle of a wine.

The 1971 Gattinara Monsecco by Conte Ravizza was vinified the same year that David Garza was born: David (above, center) is one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever had the fortune to work with and he played on our last album “Freudian Slip.” And he’s also just a super cool dude to hang with.

Céline Dijon (right, holding Georgia) currently calls New York (not Paris anymore) her home and she was in town because we’re working on material for our new album. (BTW, our band Nous Non Plus playing in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles this week, Thurs.-Sat.; click here for the show details.)

I had saved the 1971 Monsecco for David. It had been given to me by Brooklyn Guy’s good friend Dan when we visited in Brooklyn in January 2011 (when we tasted a bottle of it together; here are my complete notes together with the research I did on the bottling).

After a Texas summer in my home cellar (the hottest on record), I wasn’t sure how the wine was going to stand up but we were all impressed with how bright the wine was, with healthy acidity and gorgeous fruit — thoroughly delicious paired with Tracie P’s risotto al radicchio veronese served all’onda. It just goes to show that even in tough vintages, great producers can make great wine (I reported Wasserman’s notes on the harvest here).

David was so sweet: he taught me how to play a new lullaby he wrote and he sang it for Georgia… too cute for words…

If you’re in California this week, come see me and Céline at one of the shows!

Here’s another shot from Georgia P’s recent photo shoot (by the amazing Nichols family):

The dream of every Jew…

The dream of every Jew (at least this one)? To write Christmas music, of course!

Every since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of writing Christmas music… just like one of my idols, Irving Berlin, who wrote “White Christmas” and “Happy Holiday,” among others…

And so when we “went into the studio” this year to make Nous Non Plus’s new album, Freudian Slip (Aeronaut 2011), we also recorded some holiday music.

The A-side of our new self-released single, “Holiday,” was inspired by and written for Tracie P (every day with you is a holiday…)…

The B-side is a song inspired by our troops, “(General, Please) Keep My Baby Safe This Christmas Eve”: it’s an anti-war song, sung from the point-of-view of a soldier’s wife or mother… Céline did an awesome job with the video… And the song features an heart-wrenching guitar solo by our friend David Garza, one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever had the chance to work with…

The single is only available on CD (no digital release) and costs $5 (including shipping).

For every CD shipped, Nous Non Plus will donate $1 to Operation Homefront, providing “emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members.”

Even if you don’t want a CD, please consider Operation Homefront (based in San Diego, California, and San Antonio, Texas) for your charitable giving this year…

To order a copy of the disk, please send me an email by clicking here (or leave a comment in the comment section below).

Tracie P and I LOVE Christmas music (Karen Carpenter, anyone?) and we have a strict rule at our house: NO Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving… and then LET THOSE BELLS RING! :)

Happy Holidays, yall! And thanks for listening…

2007 Nebbiolo and Rock ‘n’ Roll: notes from our record release party

As we head into the last trimester of our pregnancy, Tracie P and I decided to have one last house party before Baby P arrives in December. Doesn’t Tracie P look great?

Since I’m going to be in Europe on our new album’s release date (guiding celebrity mixologists to Friuli and speaking at the European Wine Bloggers Conference), the occasion was a listening party for my band Nous Non Plus’s CD Freudian Slip (October 11, Aeronaut Records).

You’ve already heard Bunga Bunga (the first single, released earlier this month). Here’s a preview of Tracie P’s favorite track, a song that Céline and I wrote in Italian for a dear friend of mine who’s going through a tough time in his life (that’s rock star David Garza playing the guitar solo, btw):

I made my guacamole, Tuscan bean salad, and penne tossed with domestic mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. For the main event, Tracie P made her famous potato latkes and in the light of the fact that our band is faux French, I made that supreme classic of French cuisine: le hot dog (Hebrew National weenies and buns grilled on our ridged steak pan and then slathered with Dijon).

We opened a lot of awesome wine with the friends who came out to listen yesterday. But the wine that really thrilled me was the 2007 Barbaresco by Silvio Giamello.

Gauging from the 2007 Nebbiolo I’ve tasted so far, this vintage, already showing extremely well, will only get better. Here’s what Antonio Galloni had to say about 2007 in Langa:

    The year started off with an unusually warm and dry winter, with virtually no precipitation. Flowers and plants went into bloom nearly a full month early. Growers had never seen conditions such as these. The summer was warm, but evenly so, without noticeable heat spikes. Towards the end of the growing season nighttime temperatures lowered, slowing down the maturation of the grapes, and allowing for the development of the perfume that is such an essential component of fine Nebbiolo. The harvest was earlier than normal, but the growing season started so early in the year that the actual length of the vegetative cycle was actually close to normal if not longer than normal by a few days. Overall yields were down an estimated 10-15%.

(Even though he posted this in the subscription-only EBob site, it’s easy to find: just Google “Galloni Piedmont 2007” and the complete text will come up.)

Produttori del Barbaresco still hasn’t shipped its 2007 classic Barbaresco but my bet is that it will be fantastic. And in the meantime, the Giamello is already gorgeous, with a promise for superb evolution. Giamello owns some of the best rows in Ovello, the same cru where Produttori del Barbaresco sources the majority of its fruit for their classic Barbaresco.

The 2008 Mongeard-Mugneret Fixin was also stunning. But the Barbaresco was the wine that really thrilled me yesterday as we listened to the new record.

Burgundy may be my mistress but Langa is my signora

Thanks for reading and listening!

THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support Japan last night!

From the department of “just another day in the Groover’s paradise”…

What a rush to get to play with David Garza last night at Vino Vino to raise money for the American Red Cross fund for victims of the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami!

It’s such a trip to be around David: he breaths music (as Céline Dijon noted when we were recording together last month in Austin). On stage, you never know what wonder-filled notes will stream from his voice and his fingers. My favorite number was a medley of “Electric Avenue” and “Pass the Dutchie” — in a minor key!

Later in the evening, the amazing Suzanna Choffel sat in a for a few numbers and all the while legendary Austin music photographer Todd Wolfson played percussion. A truly and utterly incredible experience for me.

And the 2008 single-vineard Erbaluce Cariola by Luigi Ferrando was awesome at the end of the night: gorgeous popping acidity, bright fruit, and righteous alcohol at 12.5%. Great wine…

We raised more than $1,200 for the American Red Cross fund for victims of the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami (if you’d like to contribute, just click here).

Singing with David Garza for Japan tonight in Austin

The above photo is little bit blurry and it’s hard to make out what’s going on in it. But it’s one of my favorite photos of the year so far: me with one of my musical heroes, David Garza, in the studio recording the new Nous Non Plus record last month, snapped by Tracie P through the control room window.

David is one of the most remarkable singer-songwriters I have ever seen or heard and you can imagine how thrilled I was when he agreed to play on our album (which we started mixing in Los Angeles today, btw). And he’s a super sweet and generous dude…

That’s David wearing Céline Dijon’s hair, with me (Cal d’Hommage) and Jean-Luc Retard (on the right).

David’s going to be singing for Japan tonight at Vino Vino in Austin: there’s no cover and Jeff Courington, who owns and runs this awesome wine bar, is going to be donating 25% of sales to the Red Cross Fund for Victims of the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Please join us if you can (I’ll be sitting in on a song or two and Tracie P will be there, too) and please remember our sisters and brothers in Japan.

Help Japan in Austin and hear me sing some Beatles songs

Word has it that I’ll be emceeing and even sitting in on a few Beatles songs with my friend David on April 25 in Austin… The below is from the Vino Vino blog… I hope you can join us…

“Japan Nuclear Disaster Put on Par With Chernobyl” is the headline in today’s yesterday’s New York Times. Victims of the recent tragedy in Japan need our help. Vino Vino is partnering with Austin music legend David Garza (above, photo by Dan Crane) to lend a helping hand from Austin, Texas.

Vino Vino Benefit for Japan Earthquake Relief
Monday, April 25, 2011
doors 5:30 p.m.
$5 door donation and 25% of sales
will go to the American Red Cross fund for victims
of the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami

Musical host David Garza, plus musical guests to be announced.



Strangers in the Night: slowdancing with Tracie P

Thinking back to that first email, that first date, that first dance, and that first kiss, it’s hard not to marvel at how two “strangers in the night, two lonely people” managed to find each other — the one in Austin, Texas, the other in San Diego, California — in this world and in this lifetime. Thankfully, we did find each other. And now, on this early Sunday morning, as Tracie P slumbers peacefully and the thrill of what our future holds fills me with so much excitement that I cannot sleep, my heart and mind are filled with joy and wonder.

The night we finished recording the rhythm tracks for the band’s new album week before last, we went to hear our producer and friend David Garza perform at the Continental Club (those are David’s paintings on the walls, btw).

With Tracie P as my muse, my songs had begun to come to life that day, just one of the great miracles borne out of a glance exchanged by two lonely bloggers back in the summer of 2008…

Strangers in the night exchanging glances
Wondering in the night
What were the chances we’d be sharing love
Before the night was through.

Something in your eyes was so inviting,
Something in your smile was so exciting,
Something in my heart,
Told me I must have you.

Strangers in the night, two lonely people
We were strangers in the night
Up to the moment
When we said our first hello.
Little did we know
Love was just a glance away,
A warm embracing dance away and –

Ever since that night we’ve been together.
Lovers at first sight, in love forever.
It turned out so right,
For strangers in the night.

Love was just a glance away,
A warm embracing dance away

Ever since that night we’ve been together.
Lovers at first sight, in love forever.
It turned out so right,
For strangers in the night.

I love you, Tracie P. I love you more than words can say. And I will spend the rest of my days trying to find a way to let you know just how much I love and adore you… “It turned out so right for strangers in the night.”

The new DOCG list and a killer Offida Pecorino

Above: The 2008 Offida Pecorino Le Merlettaie by Ciù Ciù is the best Pecorino I’ve ever tasted in the U.S. Really, really dug this wine.

“Official” is a relative qualifier in Italy. And I make that statement with all due respect and sans ironie. In the linear, Protestant thought processes of the Anglo-Saxon mindset, actors tend to see things in “black or white,” “day or night,” “yes or no”… In the non-linear, Catholic all-embracing Romance understanding of the world and the way it works, lines are blurred and absolutes are malleable. (Does anyone remember Bertolucci’s treatment of absolutes and Plato’s cave in Il conformista, 1970?)

Above: Le Merlettaie is named after the famous lacemakers of Offida. The merletto a tombolo (tombolo is the pillow used to make the lace) is one of the great national treasures of Italy. I found this video showing how the lace is made.

In the wake of the publication of Alfonso Cevola’s update DOCG list, contentious emails have been hurled across the internets this morning debating the currency of the “official” number of DOCGs. I guess it depends what your definition of “is” is.

The only thing I know for certain is that Alfonso has done the wine world a service by compiling and diligently updating the list. Whether you’re a Master Sommelier candidate studying for your exam or your a server in a fine-dining establishment who wants to be able to discuss the Italian appellation system intelligently with your patrons, his list is an indispensable tool in deciphering the canon law of Italian wine.

Above: To DOC or DOCG… I say “schlemiel, schlimazel!” Pecorino, when vinified in a traditional manner, is delicious (BTW, the schlemiel spills his soup on the schlimazel.)

I can also confirm that Offida Pecorino will be equally delicious when it attains its new “Terre di Offida” DOCG status. The one that we drank last night showed sturdy acidity and a wonderfully viscous mouthfeel, with nutty and stone fruit notes.

In other news…

Last night, Tracie P made ragù alla bolognese for Nous Non Plus and the utterly inimitable and magical David Garza who came over to listen to our tracks and sprinkle some of his amazing gold dust on us. He brought a beautiful 1964 handmade nylon string guitar and it was amazing to hear him play and noodle on the patio before dinner. He’s performing the last concert of his residency at the Continental Club (gallery) in Austin on Monday night.