Stunning Pallagrello Nero from Nanni Copè

A thrilling, brilliant day and evening yesterday at Sotto in Los Angeles — my first day back on the job after paternity leave — with all the wine [sales] reps coming in to taste us on new wines for our spring 2012 list.

Wine captain Rory Harrington (below) and I tasted an exhilarating flight of wines (and the occasional clunker from an old fart who always manages to weasel his way in). So many great wines come from southern Italy right now, especially from Campania and Sicily.

But the wine that sticks out in my mind this morning is the 2008 Nanni Copè created by revered “taster” Giovanni Ascione from Caserta (Campania).

The wine — as I learned reading this excellent post by colleague Monica Piscitelli — is named after Giovanni’s preferred appellation as a youngster: Nanni (diminutive of his Christian name) and Copè (an infantile corruption of his mother’s maiden name, Cioppa).

It’s made primarily from Pallagrello Nero, with smaller amounts of Aglianico and Casavecchia, raised on 2.5 hectares of semi-pergola-trained (yes!), meticulously curated vines in Caserta.

Tongue-splitting acidity, fresh bright red fruit, and earth, earth, earth… Gorgeous black earth…

We tasted a lot of great wines yesterday but this one — its first vintage on the market — stands out in my memory this morning as an original wine, a wine that surprised me and taught me something new about the grape variety.

I’ve got a very busy dance card today with my regular blogging duties and a show tonight in San Diego with my band Nous Non Plus.

But I wanted to give a big shout out to my friend and colleague Rory Harrington (above, left, with my high school friend Mike Andrews, photo by my bandmate Dan Crane).

I’m the curator of the wine list at Sotto but Rory is the guy who makes it hum and sing. We taste all the wines together and then decide what’s going to make the cut. I greatly admire his palate and cherish his friendship. If you ever visit Sotto, please check in with him and ask him what’s drinking well… he’ll never steer you wrong. His aim is true and his heart is pure…

Ok, gotta go make some rock ‘n’ roll! As we say, in French, wish me merde! (Yes, I just had to talk about poop…)