You can take foxes outta the country but…

From the “just for fun” department…

Johnny OtisLife’s been a little stressful lately and there’s so much negativity going around right now in the world of wine that I thought it was time for some “just for fun.”

It had been a while since Tracie B and me popped any Movia. So Sunday night, we invited our friend and fellow natural wine freak Josh Loving over for Tracie B’s famous fried chicken and mashed potatoes and a bottle of Puro, which Josh — the consummate wine professional — ably disgorged (check out the video I shot below).

Dinner was served accompanied by one of my favorite records: Cold Shot! by the Johnny Otis Show. I love every track on that disk and “The Signifyin’ Monkey” is probably the most famous. But my favorite favorite track is “Country Girl.” Toward the end of the song, Johnny Otis doubles the following aphoristic chiasmus with his guitar: You can take foxes outta the country, but you can’t get the country outta foxes. It’s one of the mysteries of life but that line just kills me every time. Check it out, as Josh disgorges the wine:

You’ve probably seen Puro disgorged at Do Bianchi before but in case you haven’t, it’s really easy to do (as in the vid above). Winemaker Aleš Kristančič makes the wine using the méthode champenoise but he leaves the lees and sediment in the wine (i.e., he doesn’t disgorge before release). You store the wine upside down in your fridge (using a cardboard cylinder that comes with the wine) and then you disgorge it upside down in a basin of water. The wine will be totally clear (as in the photo below).

Although Bollinger remains the indisputable official wine of my band Nous Non Plus, we have been known to disgorge a bottle of Puro… or two.

Life could be worse…

In other news…

Today, “the absolutely fabulous Alice Feiring,” as Tracie B likes to call her, is up to bat at 31 Days of Natural Wine. Alice is a dear friend, a great lady, a mentor, and one of the few things — besides Katz’s pastrami and Barney Greengrass whitefish salad — that we miss about New York City. I love the wine she talks about and I can confirm what Cory writes in his intro, that “very Alice Feiring” has become a canonical wine descriptor. How cool is that?

The amazingly talented Mr. Lou on Vine

Above: he has my vote. No, that’s not Lou. That’s my comrade and co-conspirator in tasting Howard Rodman at Lou on Vine, my all-time favorite wine bar in the world — yes, in the whole wide world. Howard was just nominated for a Spirit Award for best screenplay (Savage Grace, 2007). Congratulations, Howard!

My travels are taking me away from Austin and back to California, where I’m going to work some holiday parties with my friends at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego (I’ll be pouring on the floor there on Friday and Saturday nights, btw). During the week, I’ll head to LA to take care of some business and surely stop in to taste at my all-time favorite wine bar, Lou on Vine (at the corner of Melrose and Vine in Hollywood).

Above: Lou Amdur, nez extraordinaire and proprietor of the eponymously named Lou on Vine.

Lou’s menu features farm-to-table materia prima and his extensive by-the-glass list never fails to surprise and thrill me, whether with a biodynamic Pecorino from Abruzzo, a stinky Gamay from Beaujolais (Rachel Ray’s favorite, Lou claims wryly), or a grape that I’d never tasted, like Zierfandler from the Thermenregion.

Before I headed out to Austin a few weeks ago, Lou graciously let Howard and me pull the cork on Howard’s 1998 Cascina Francia by Giacomo Conterno, which showed beautifully. I’ve recently tasted the 97 (at Jaynes courtesy John Greer) and the 99 (courtesy David Schacter): while the 99 was still way too tight and the 97 began to open up nicely only after extended aeration, the 98 was simply singing in my opinion.


got a pocket full of nickles
a pocket full of dimes
going back to Watts
drink a little wine
come on
baby don’t you want to go
going back to LA
sweetest place I know

— Johnny Otis Show