Georgia P takes her first meeting (and so many great wines this week)

Georgia P took her first meeting at a major studio yesterday. That’s her on the backlot. As her manager (and a budding stage father), I can’t reveal which studio because we’re still in negotiations. But rest assured, her next project is going to be a blockbuster.

In other news…

I’ve tasted so many great wines this week in California and our event with Lou at Sotto last night was a blast (we’re planning to do another “oblong table” in August when I’m back).

I’ll be posting on the wines and the event as soon as I get a chance next week. Emidio Pepe 2003 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was one of the highlights.

Stay tuned…

Montepulciano: Italian grape name and appellation pronunciation project

CLICK HERE FOR ALL EPISODES.

Above: Alfonso’s video camera captured winemaker Stefano Illuminati (of the Dino Illuminati winery, Abruzzo) speaking “Montepulciano” at Vinitaly a few weeks ago.

If Merlot (mehr-LOH) is the easiest European grape name for Anglophone consumers to pronounce (and is consequently America’s favorite variety), then Montepulciano (MOH-te-pool-CHEE’AH-noh) is the most confusing and one of the most challenging.

The last time you were on a date and you wanted to impress your dinner companion, did you impress him/her by ordering the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (VEE-noh NOH-bee-leh dee MOHN-teh-pool-CHEE’AH-noh)? Or perhaps you eloquently illustrated how Montepulciano is at once a place name (the name of a township in Tuscany where Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is produced) and a grape name (the name of a variety grown and vinified primarily in Abruzzo but also elsewhere in Central Italy)?

I know that you didn’t order the Merlot!

Above: Dino Illuminati, Stefano’s father and the winery’s namesake, is one of the wonderful avuncular characters of the Italian wine world — larger than life and always bursting with life and energy. His 1998 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo blew me away when I tasted it a few months ago in Chicago (photo by Alfonso, Verona, April 2011).

The bivalence of the topo- and ampelonym Montepulciano often leads complacent wine directors to include bottlings of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in their “Tuscany” and “Sangiovese” sections. This oversight often tragically eclipses the many wonderful expressions of Montepulciano that come from Abruzzo (anyone who has ever tasted the 1979 Montepulciano by Emidio Pepe knows just how incredible these wines can be!).

Do Bianchi isn’t exactly the blogosphere’s leading resource for dating advice. But, then again, Tracie P probably wouldn’t have given me the time of day if I didn’t know the difference between my Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and my Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!

The Italian Grape Name and Appellation Pronunciation Project got a greatly appreciated shoutout from Eric the Red last week on the Times dining blog. Thanks again, Eric! Remember: friends don’t let friends pronounce Italian grape names and appellations incorrectly! ;-)

If you’re planning your vacation in Italy…

If you’re planning your vacation in Italy this summer, think about Abruzzo…

After breaking away from the phalanx of wine professionals with whom I was traveling on my last day at Vinitaly in April, I had the great fortune to taste with Abruzzo winemakers Sofia and Emidio Pepe. The next morning, the earthquake struck the region in the hours before dawn, taking the lives of nearly 300 people and leaving 28,000 homeless.

You may remember Eric’s post “Aftershocks” which appeared on The Pour in the days that followed the tragedy in L’Aquila. As Eric pointed out, even though the Abruzzo wine industry wasn’t affected directly by the earthquake, the long-term impact will be drastic because 10-50% of the wine produced there is sold and consumed locally.

Above: I have always loved Emidio Pepe’s Montepulicano d’Abruzzo, made in a totally natural style. “Emidio Pepe may be even more of purist than Valentini [another one of Italy’s iconic natural winemakers],” wrote Burton Anderson in his landmark book Vino. “He crushes his grapes by foot” and “possesses not a single piece of modern equipment in his rustic winery.” Drinking these stinky elegant wines is like listening to Thelonious Monk’s “Ugly Beauty.”

Abruzzo is a pristine region of immense natural beauty. Its hills are dotted with wonderful medieval villages where life was never contaminated by the industrial progress forged during fascism.

L’Aquila (where the epicenter hit) was so named (“the eagle”) by 13th-century emperor Frederick II of Swabia who was one of the greatest falconers of his time. Dante condemned Frederick to his Inferno for being an epicurean.

If you’re considering/planning a trip to Italy this summer, think about Abruzzo.

In other news…

You can find info for Nous Non Plus shows in San Francisco (tomorrow), San Jose (Friday), and Los Angeles (Saturday) here. Hope to see you at the shows. Tracie B will be Tracie B there too! (well, just in LA)