Giacosa tasting, clarifications


Photos by Tracie P.

Wow, heartfelt thanks to everyone for all the comments and messages in the wake of the Bruno Giacosa tasting post Friday! It was an unforgettable experience.

Ken Vastola, author of an excellent “bibliography” of Giacosa’s wines, asked me to clarify a few points. So, yesterday, I called Giacosa’s enologist Giorgio Lavagna to get some answers.

Ken wrote:

    Antonio Galloni wrote in his review: “In 2007, the white label Asili is roughly 80% juice from the old ‘Rabaja’ parcel and 20% Asili from the vines Giacosa has always used for his [Barbaresco] Asili.”

    That doesn’t seem to fit with Bruno’s comment in your article about this wine “You can smell Asili in this wine.”

    You wrote “The only difference between the white and red (reserve) labels is the additional cask aging.” Does this imply (seemingly contrary to Antonio’s comment) that all the juice from the 2 parcels was blended, then separated for aging? I have to say this is the type of question that Bruno and the winery have been either coy or forgetful about over the years.


Giorgio confirmed the percentages that Antonio reported in his previously published notes on the wines. As has been widely reported, Giacosa did not bottle his 2006 (because of a hail storm that damaged the vineyards, said Giorgio yesterday [!!!]). 2006 was also the year that certain adjacent rows of Rabajà were reclassified as Asili, including the rows that Giacosa had used historically to make his Barbaresco Rabajà bottling.

The fruit for the 2007 Barbaresco Asili “white label,” said Giorgio, is sourced primarily from the parcel previously called Rabajà, roughly 80%, and roughly 20% from Asili. In the light of this information, Bruno’s comment that “you can smell Asili in this wine” is significant. It seems to suggest that he agrees with the reclassification.

The fruit sourced from the Rabajà parcel and Asili were vinified together in 2007, said Giorgio.

But he was quick to point out that the fruit for the 2007 Barbaresco Asili Riserva (“red label”), which will be released in 2012, was sourced exclusively from the top part of Asili, the sorì as the best parcel is called in the wine parlance and dialect of Langa.


    Is Bruno really making a 2007 Rocche white label? I assumed (or read?) he would make a red label in 07. So far he has not made both a red and white label in the same vintage from Rocche. Though I guess if it’s still in barrel then red or white label is still only a guess. He can change his mind.

Giorgio confirmed that the 2007 Barolo Rocche del Falletto will be a “red label” riserva and that there will be no “white label” 2007 Barolo Rocche del Falletto (and, indeed, as Ken points out rightly, this keeps with tradition at Giacosa: when a red label Barolo Rocche del Falletto is produced, no white label is produced). The 2007 Barolo Rocche del Falletto has not been bottled yet and we tasted a barrel sample (in the unlabeled 375ml bottle above).

    You mention a Bruno Giacosa 2004 Barolo Rocche del Falletto (white label). In 2004, I’m pretty sure he made a white label Falletto and a red label Rocche, but no white label Rocche. Was this from a finished bottle with a label on it or could it be the red label? I have not seen a white label Rocche on the market, only a red label on futures.

We did taste a 2005 “white label” Barolo Rocche del Falletto in the tasting room and we drank a 2004 white label Barolo Falletto at lunch at Enoclub in Alba. In our conversation, Giorgio reiterated that in 2005 no red label Barolo Rocche was bottled as such. He said that he “nearly regretted” this and when we asked him if they had bottled the parcel as white label in response to the economic crisis, he didn’t answer. The bottom line is that 2005 Rocche del Falletto probably could have bottled as red label and that the white label bottling represents all the more value for the price point. The winery did, indeed, produce a 2004 Barolo Rocche del Falletto red label (and consequently no white label for that parcel for that vintage).

N.B.: Historically, Giacosa has made Barolo Falletto (sourced from his Falletto estate in Serralunga d’Alba) and Barolo Rocche del Falletto (sourced from the top parcels on the Falletto estate). In excellent years, Barolo Rocche del Falletto is aged longer in cask and released as “red label” riserva. In superlative years, Barolo Falletto has also been released as a “red label” riserva. 1996 was the last occurrence, according to Ken’s bibliography.

To learn more about the history of Giacosa’s labeling and bottling, be sure to check out Ken’s site.

Thanks, Ken, for such great questions and thanks, everyone, for reading!

Now, ENOUGH with this wine geekery! I promise something sappy and romantic for tomorrow… ;-)

On deck: tasting current releases of G. (Mauro) Mascarello: a man “you cannot help but love.”

The smell of money guides the evolution of taste, part 2


Above: A collection of old large-format bottles at the Bartolo Mascarello winery. I took the photo when I visited and tasted with Maria Teresa Mascarello, Bartolo’s daughter, in April 2008. Those are aging casks in the winery’s cellar, below left.

I received a lot of positive feedback in the wake of my post the other day Bruno Giacosa and Bartolo Mascarello meet for the first time. Thank you to everyone who commented and wrote in for the encouragement and the kind words. And special thanks, again, to Franco, for bringing this wonderful piece of writing to our attention.

One of the most fascinating elements — among many — about the first installment was the note about the weather: 95° at the end of July. How did that heat spike affect the 1964 vintage?

Here’s the second and final installment of the translation of Francarlo Negro’s newsletter, “The Smell of Money Guides the Evolution of Taste.”

Buona lettura!


barolo… The same was true of the Barbaresco [I’ve never heard of a B. Mascarello Barbaresco but evidently he was making Barbaresco at that time; thoughts?]

In the glass, the wine was clear, not dark red, but rather light red with gradations of garnet and an orange-rose rim.

In the mouth, the light flower gave way to the tannic freshness that enveloped the elegance of the wine, an austere but inviting sensation, cleansing the mouth and prompting you to take another sip. The elegance of the nose opened with a velvety impression, dry but never bitter in taste.

The 1961 Barbaresco that Bruno Giacosa had brought for the tasting was more evolved. But it showed characteristics similar to those of the Barolo, although with slightly different tonalities. Light impressions of field flowers, rounder on the palate, definitely more velvety and approachable.

Bruno and Bartolo discussed the fundamental roll of the land, of the surì [i.e., the best rows in top growing sites], the vines, and approaches to growing grapes — without abusing the vine, with asking too much of it.

Quality depended on the harvest. During those years, clear-cut differences were evident between one vintage and another. In more than 40 years since the birth of the Barolo and Barbaresco appellations, the wines have been declassified only once to rosso da tavola [red table wine], and that was no haphazard decision. The year was 1972, when excessive rain and incessant fog caused the grapes to rot.

Thirty years later, the 2002 harvest should have met the same fate. But technology and the interests of the large exporters weren’t about to let that happen. Millions of bottles containing low-quality wines were released on to the market bearing the name Barbaresco and Barolo DOCG.


Above: Historic aging casks for Nebbiolo, no longer in use, at the Fontanfredda winery, one of the original high-volume producers of Barolo, founded in the 19th-century by the first king of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II.

Subordination to “international” tastes clouds the identity of our wine.

The advent of international demand, which began in the early 1980s, has offered a historic opportunity to the great wines of Langa: to reach the tables of the greater western world, from Europe, to America, to Japan.

This demand is guided by American buyers who want Barolo and Barbaresco to change in order to adapt to the tastes and style of the market in that great country — that gluttonous, powerful, ignorant country.

The greater part of winemakers have adapted their cellars, as sales increase and profits soar. For the most part, the historic enologic culture of our land has been snubbed to make way for new technology in grape-growing, vinification, and aging. The score awarded by U.S. magazines determines the success or failure of sales.

A complex network of relationships has been created between large international merchants, consenting journalists, and willing enologists. A new genre of wine has been born. There are a few exceptions but most wineries have chosen to reshape the identity of the great wines of Langa. These changes have not come about through an exchange of ideas between the old and the new but rather between traditional and modern enology: the wines are the result of an irrational adaptation of enological standards, dominated by the major buying groups and by the multi-national network of the wine industry.

Vanilla, fruity Barolo and Barbaresco.

The “ideal” wine destined for export has changed completely. The color must be darker, as darkly colored as blood, the symbol of power, modeled after Cabernet Sauvignon, the benchmark grape variety for the international market.

Vanilla is desirable in the nose, as are extraneous spicy notes, the fruit of aging in small toasted casks, French barriques, used only if rigorously new, so that they will impart their own aromas and tannins as they corrupt the classic, original traits of our wines.

The taste should be marked by “fruitiness,” notes of ripe red fruit, with intense flavors, enticing and coating, sometimes jammy. When the harvest isn’t the best and the natural alcohol content is only 13%, winemakers resort to the Salasso method: when fermentation begins and the skins form the cap, a certain quantity of must is racked off from the bottom of the cask in order to achieve the desired intensity in color and flavor. The technology behind temperature-controlled concentrators allows the winemaker to avoid cooked-fruit flavors as they reduce the water content and increase the sugar content of the wine.

Fermentation and vinification techniques have undergone a transformation under the aegis of enologic innovation. It’s no secret that the consultation of a certain enologist with ties to the new network of international media and commercial interests is a prerequisite for a good score in the wine guides and the subsequently increased facility to sell the wine at a higher price. The end result is an atypical wine, in cahoots with grape varieties considered “international” because they are the preference of Americans and others unfamiliar with the culture of wine. The uniqueness of the monovarietal wine, made from Nebbiolo, has lost its distinct personality.

Certain media have embraced and supported this production-and-marketing operation: for many years the Gambero Rosso/Slow Food Guide to the Wines of Italy has punished traditional producers by denying them recognition among the Tre Bicchieri winners. Giacosa and Bartolo Mascarello are among those who have penalized. Their wines were considered to “rustic.”

—Francarlo Negro


In recent years, regional authorities have allowed growers to plan new vines in growing sites where grape growing [for fine wine production] has never been suitable. Many of these sites have never been deforested nor used for cultivation of any kind since they face northward. These are sites where our elders wouldn’t have even thought of planting hazelnut trees: in 2008, production of Barolo and Barbaresco increased 50% with respect to production levels in 1999.

(translation by Do Bianchi, January, 2010)

Giacosa and Mauro Mascarello spar over 2006

Above: A recent photo of iconic Langa producer Bruno Giacosa.

Over at VinoWire, Franco and I have posted a preview of Franco’s article on Bruno Giacosa’s controversial decision not to bottle his 2006 Barbaresco and Barolo (to appear in the February issue of Decanter Magazine). But you’ll have to click over to VinoWire to get it. It marks the first time that Giacosa has spoken directly to the English-speaking world on the polemic move. You might be surprised by what some of his peers and interlocutors have to say about the vintage.

In other news… from the “just for gastronomic fun” department…

It’s that time of year again when we spacciatori di vino (wine pushers) hit the streets and start showing our wares again. It’s been good to reconnect with a lot of folks I only see when I’m on the road, like my good friend Josh Cross, who always has something fun on the menu at his awesome restaurant Oloroso in San Antonio. Josh and I both worked in the New York restaurant scene during the better part of the last decade and so we have a lot of friends in common.

He’s open for lunch now and so he treated me to one of his lunch specials, a take on “pigs in a blanket” (above): housemade venison sausage, cased in a runza dough kolache bun, served with a fig mustard and piquillo pepper relish.

I really like his sous chef Ernesto Martinez’s take on the German and Czech historical presence in Central Texas. How’s that for fusion?

Today, I’m on my way from Dallas to Houston, where I’ll be speaking at a wine tasting tonight. In less than a week, my beautiful Tracie B and I will be leaving for San Diego and the final preparations for our wedding. I wish ya’ll could see the grin on my face as I write this from a Starbucks in Ennis, Texas! :-)

The story behind La Licenziana vs. Vicenziana Barbaresco

Silvio Giamello 2005 Barbaresco Vicenziana, made from grapes in the Ovello cru of Barbaresco. Vicenziana is a named place (a lieu-dit, in French) in the cru and lies in the northernmost area of this famous growing site. Photo by Tracie B.

We depend so much today on the immediacy of the internet for information and today, more than ever, there is so much information available to consumers on wines, wineries, and wine prices — via blogging, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and subscription archives like WineSearcher and CellarTracker.

I was thoroughly impressed when I tasted the 2005 Barbaresco Vicenziana by Silvio Giamello the other day but deeply disappointed when my Google search for info about the wine proved fruitless. So I figured I’d do things the old-fashioned way: I decided to call Silvio and looked for his number at But this dude’s not even in the phone book!

I finally found another Giamello who owned an azienda agricola (literally a farming estate or farming company) and called him in the hopes that they were relatives (there are a lot of Giamellos in Piedmont!). He didn’t have Silvio’s number but he gave me just enough geographical information to find the winery. Sheesh!

So here’s the story behind this wine…

The estate, Silvio told me, is called La Licenziana. It was planted to Nebbiolo and Dolcetto by Sivlio’s grandfather and it lies in the northernmost part of Barbaresco in Ovello (one of the famed Barbaresco crus), just a few rows in the western part of the cru, with south-eastern exposure. Silvio’s father used to bottle small amounts of the wine but sold most of the fruit to Langa négociants and also made some bulk wine. About ten years ago, Silvio decided to start bottling Barbaresco and when he researched the origins of his family’s growing site, he consulted municipal records and discovered that the name Licenziana was a dialectal corruption of Vicenziana. In antiquity, the estate was owned by a Roman noble named Lolio Vicenziano (I was able to find some info on Lolio but not much and I imagine his Latin name was Lollius, but I’ll have to get to the bottom of that later). According to Silvio, the estate was called Villa Gentiana in antiquity: villa means farmhouse in Latin and my hunch is that the designation gentiana might have been derived from gens, which means race, clan, or house, and often denotes Roman upper-class Roman citizens. In other words, it probably meant noble farmhouse. Somewhere along the way, Villa Gentiana became Vicenziana, according to Silvio.

I liked the wine so much that I bought a bottle and Tracie B and I drank it last night with a little sausage ragù that I made.

This wine was all earth, mushroomy and savory, my favorite style of Barbaresco, what I like to call “rustic.”

Silvio told me that he employs integrated farming practices and vinifies (no surprise here) in a traditional style (large old-oak cask aging).

His maximum production is around 5,000 bottles and he made roughly 3,000 of the 2005.

When I mentioned to him that there is very little info available about his wines on the internet, he said that he likes it that way: “I’m in no hurry to let people know about my wines,” he told me. It reminded of the story that Maria Teresa Mascarello told me about how her father, the legendary Bartolo, didn’t want a phone in their home. When the young Teresa complained, Bartolo finally relented and told her she could have a phone but it had to be registered in her name.

Silvio does have an email address and he promised to send me info on the 2009 harvest… but only when they’re done picking the grapes. I guess I’ll just have to wait!

Great wine, highly recommended for the pricepoint.

Giuseppe (Mauro) Mascarello: the accidental natural winemaker

So many great wines and so little time… Between my April trip to Italy and Slovenia and my recent stays in New York and Los Angeles, I’ve had the chance to taste so much great wine this spring.

One of my most memorable spring 2008 tastings — a truly extraordinary experience — was a vertical dinner at Mozza in Los Angeles hosted by winemaker Mauro Mascarello of the Giuseppe Mascarello winery (Langa, Piedmont), where he poured bottlings spanning back to 1958.

I’ve had the opportunity to taste older Giuseppe Mascarello before but never had I seen such a remarkable collection of his wines. In fact, the tasting itself — open to the public — was a remarkable event: when it comes to “rare” wine (and I’ve attended and even poured at comparable however private tastings), rarely are so many exceptional vintages offered for public consumption. My friend David Rosoff, wine director and general manager at Mozza, orchestrated the dinner and pours with extreme grace and elegance.

The tasting spanned “six decades” and included the following wines:

1958 Barolo, 1961 Barolo Riserva, 1964 Barolo

The Mascarello family bought and moved the Monprivato estate and began making wine labeled simply “Barolo” in 1904. In 1919, Mascarello acquired an ice warehouse in Monchiero, with vaulted ceilings, said Mauro on the eve of the tasting, a storage space that later proved ideal for aging Barolo because of its natural cooling system. In 1922 (the year Mussolini marched on Rome), Mascarello grafted the vines with the Michét (mee-KEHT) Nebbiolo, a less productive but more structured and more age-worthy clone (Mascarello’s website reports 1921 but Mauro said 1922 was the year of the newly grafted vines; I find it interesting that these two milestones — the acquisition of the ice warehouse and the grafting of Michét — occurred between the two world wars, a time of hope, a time when Italians were happy for the end of the Great War and the peace that followed yet unaware of the tragedy that would follow Mussolini’s rise to power). In 1952 Giuseppe Mascarello began experimenting with Slavonian oak. He had served in the Italian military and Slovenia and had discovered that the more compact wood was better for long-term aging of his wines. In 1962, he started to experiment with the Michét clones, selecting those best suited for his vineyards.

This first flight — 1958, 1961, and 1964 — represented the end of the first era of Mascarello’s history and laid the ground work for what many consider one of the most prolific names in Barolo. The 61 and 64 were oxidized unfortunately, but the 1958 — a very good year for Langa — was gorgeous, very much alive with fruit and acidity.

1970 Barolo Monprivato, 1978 Barolo Monprivato, 1982 Barolo Monprivato

The second flight also marked a landmark in the winery’s history: 1970 was Mascarello’s first cru (single-vineyard) bottling of the legendary Monprivato growing site (Mauro Mascarello began making the wine at Mascarello in 1967 and he would later purchase the entire growing site making it a monopole).

Mascarello’s wines are so powerful and are made in such a radically traditional and by-the-way natural style that they often turn off those accustomed to drinking modern-style Nebbiolo. These wines — the 1970, nearly 40 years old — were drinking beautifully and even the modern-leaning guests were blown away. You really need to experience aged traditional Barolo to appreciate what more recent vintages of the wines will become. The 1970 and 1978 were incredibly, nuanced and poetic, with the indescribable lightness that old Nebbiolo takes on as its tannins began to mellow naturally.

The tasting also included: 1985 Barolo Monprivato, 1989 Barolo Monprivato, 1990 Barolo Monprivato, 1996 Barolo Monprivato, 1997 Barolo Ca d’Morissio, 1999 Barolo Monprivato, 2000 Barolo Monprivato, 2001 Barolo Monprivato, 2003 Barolo Monprivato. The 1989, 1999, and 2001 were stunning and the 1997 Barolo Ca’ d’Morrisio, made from select parcels within Monprivato in top vintages, was still just a young, powerful thoroughbred colt, showing no signs of opening up yet (as many less traditional producers’ wines in this hot-summer Wine Spectator-friendly vintage).

The Ca’ d’Morrisio is named after Maurizio Mascarello, Mauro’s grandfather (literally, Maurizio’s house, so called because Maurizio resided there among the vines). One of the things that strikes me about Mauro (above) is that when you hear him talk about winemaking, he talks like a “natural” winemaker. He’s a gentle, reserved, soft-spoken man, extremely humble and painfully modest. Like his wines, he is a traditional man, with a traditional Langa beard, always dressed in toned-down brown, grey, and blue suits it seems. He has none of the flair of the young generation of natural winemakers but to hear him speak is to hear an ardent supporter of natural winemaking — not as a new fad or wave of the future but rather a tradition that he continues to carry forward because it makes for the greatest expression of his land and his fruit.

When I tasted barrel samples of his 2004 Santo Stefano and Villero at Vinitaly this year, I asked him how he manages to maintain such a distinct style in his wines. “Because I let nature do her work,” he told me with his thick Langa accent. “I try to let the earth express itself through the fruit. I try to do as little as possible in the cellar,” said Mauro, accidental natural winemaker. No natural wine manifesto could have said it better.

Italy Day 2 (dinner): felicitiously da Felicin

Above: Da Felicin in Monforte d’Alba is one of Langa’s classic old-school trattorie and it boasts one of the best cellars in the area. The current proprietor and chef, Nino Rocca (pictured below), grandson of Felice (hence the name), makes traditional Piedmontese fare. His colorful wit and spirited one-liners reminded me of the classic tavern-keepers you read about in nineteenth-century Italian novels.

After my meeting with Maria Teresa Mascarello in Barolo, I made a pilgrimage of sorts as I headed to Serralunga d’Alba to visit Fontanafredda, the oldest producer of Barolo: before her grandfather Giulio bought the now historic rows in the vineyards Cannubi, Rocche, San Lorenzo, and Ruè and began to make and bottle his own wine, he worked as a mediatore, a mediator or négociant of grapes for what was and remains the largest producer of Barolo, Fontanafredda.

Together with Ricasoli (Chianti Classico) and Cavour (Piedmont), Fontanafredda was one of the three Risorgimento-era winemakers who shaped the birth of a wine nation: Ricasoli established the primacy of Sangiovese in Tuscany, Cavour obtained nuanced bouquet and created world-class expressions of Nebbiolo in Grinzane, and King Vittorio Emanuele II produced Barolo on a large scale and converted his granaries into wine cellars, gathering together the first great Barolo “library” at his Fontanafredda estate.

The king essentially lost control of Fontanafredda during the Fascist era and the royal family was exiled from Italy after the second world war. But before the war began, Giulio Mascarello negotiated the purchase of fruit for Fontanafredda. According to Maria Teresa, this was one of the reasons he knew the growing sites so well and why he was able to chose so wisely when he decided to purchase select rows in some of Langa’s most coveted vineyards.

More on the “birth of a wine nation” in another post…

Felicin is a favorite gathering place for local and extra-communitarian Barolisti alike. Its cellar is replete with old bottlings of Nebbiolo (as well as a few unfortunate bottles of La Spinetta that Nino thankfully hides away in a corner of his cellar lest brazen thieves attempt to ferry them away in the middle of foggy night).

The asparagus with zabaglione were decadent, worthy of Louis XIV.

Tagliatelle generously dusted with grated black truffles and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.

In Langa, the cheese course is traditionally served with cognà (center), a jelly made from the must of Dolcetto grapes after pressing.

Saving my energy for the first day of Vinitaly (which began the next day in Verona), I treaded lightly with a bottle of 1996 Lazzarito by Fontanafredda to accompany the cheese course. The nearly twelve-year old wine showed nicely.

The wise-cracking and ever-gracious Nino reminded me of an “oste” that you might come across in a Manzoni novel. He speaks multiple languages. One cannot help but have a felicitous experience Da Felicin.

Italy Day 2: Bartolo’s Beret

Above: will Bartolo Mascarello’s real beret please stand up?

Although she was happy to learn that her father has achieved cult status in the über-hipster wine culture of lower Manhattan and she liked the allusion to Che Guevara, Maria Teresa Mascarello (Bartolo’s daughter) told me that the beret pictured in the Terroir wine bar t-shirt below is a photomontage. Maria Teresa didn’t know about the tee until someone printed out a copy of my post Is Mascarello the New Che Guevara? and brought it to her (she doesn’t use the internet). When I got back to NYC, I put in a call to Paul Grieco, owner of Terroir, who sells the tee. But he never called me back. I guess I’ll just have to go buy a t-shirt and send it to Maria Teresa myself.

Maria Teresa and her mother Franca (below, left) concluded that the Terroir t-shirt (below) is a photomontage.

Italy Day 2…

On April 2, I awoke in the guest room of the Castello di Zumelle, the fairy tale serenity of the Piave river valley broken only by the sound of a rooster’s cock-a-doodle-do in the distance. I bid the Dalpiva family farewell and headed south to the A4 autostrada and then west toward Piedmont and the Langhe hills where I had an appointment with Maria Teresa Mascarello of the famed Bartolo Mascarello winery, ardent defender of traditionally made, blended (as opposed to single-vineyard) Barolo.

When I showed Bartolo’s wife Franca and Maria Teresa an image of the Bartolo Mascarello t-shirt, they couldn’t get over the fact that Bartolo’s physiognomy has taken on such an aura in the U.S. They loved it. (In the photo above, they are viewing an image of the t-shirt on my laptop.) They also greatly appreciated the text written on the verso of the tee, “Bartolo Mascarello, my wine revolution…”

Before we went to tour the cellar and taste some wines together, Maria Teresa told me that her father only allowed her to install a phone in their home and adjoining winery in 1989, “after the Berlin wall fell.” He insisted that the phone be listed not under the winery’s name but rather in Maria Teresa’s name, as it remains today.

As we were tasting the 2004 Barolo, the cellar master came up to the tasting room and brought us a taste of the 2005: they had just finished blending the wine in that instant and we were literally the very first to taste it. What a thrill… (I’ll be posting a tasting note together with a profile of the Bartolo Mascarello winery next week on

Above: a collection of old bottles in the Bartolo Mascarello cellar.

In other news…

Tonight is the first night of Passover and I’m very happy to report that I am spending the holiday with my family in La Jolla (something I haven’t done in too many years).

Last night I had dinner at my favorite San Diego restaurant, Jaynes, where I met owner Jayne Battle’s father Frank Battle (above, left with daughter Jayne).

Frank grew up in Liverpool and is the “same age as Paul McCartney.” He knew all the Beatles growing up and he also knew their long-time confidant, the true “fifth Beatle,” Neil Aspinall, who recently passed away. Frank told me that he also met Beatles’ impresario Brian Epstein when he went to buy records at his record shop. How cool is that?

Above: the fresh halibut served over pea tendrils and fingerling potatoes at Jaynes, paired with 2006 Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir. Yes, there are some California wines that I like.

It’s a bloggy blog world (and more on Mascarello).

Before my gig on Saturday night in Alphabet City, I stopped by Terroir on East 12th St. to connect with friend and polemical wine blogger Lyle Fass, author of Rockss and Fruit, for a glass of — yes, you guessed it — Riesling (Eugen Müller Rheinhessen 2005).

The post the other day on Mascarello the new Che generated a lot of feedback and so I snapped the above and below pics of the Terroir Mascarello T.

Terroir’s website is now online. I applaud the owners’ militant spirit but I feel that their “No barrique, no Berlusconi” motto/mantra is misguided. Mascarello’s famous Berlusconi label was released in a particular moment in Italian history and had a historical meaning within the context of contemporary Italian politics (remember: when the wine was released, Berlusconi was prime minister and Italian troops had been deployed in the Bush-legacy war). There’s a lot more to Mascarello’s wines and to the concept of terroir than just “no barrique.” I hope to see Maria Teresa Mascarello when I taste at Vini Veri next week and get her take on it.

Check out these images of the labels on collector Ken Vastola’s site.

Terroir sells the shirts for $25.

That’s Lyle and me in the above pic. Lyle’s one of many friends I’ve made through the blogosphere.

Terry Hughes, author of the controversial blog Mondosapore, is another friend I’ve made through the blogosphere. He and I grabbed a glass of 1989 Clos Baudin Vouvray yesterday evening at the bar at Gramercy Tavern.

One of the most rewarding things about my experience blogging is the interesting and caring people I’ve met along the way (look for more in upcoming posts about blogger/friends). If Snoop Dog had a blog, he would say that it’s a bloggy blog world.

That’s me and Céline Dijon at our show on Saturday night. We debuted our new song “Catastrophe,” about a relationship gone bad but a chance to start anew and make a better life — a reversal of a reversal, to put it in the context of peripeteia.

Our April 10 date in Ljubljana has been confirmed: I can’t reveal the name of the private club where we’ll be playing but if you’d like to attend, email me (jparzen at gmail) with the word “fidelio” in the subject line and I’ll send you the secret password together with the name of the club a few days before the show. As soon as our April 9 date in Gorizia is confirmed, I’ll post the info.

I’m Too Sexy for This Wine

Above: Roman-born Piera Farina makes a line of wines called “Sexy” in Sicily (click the image to read more in Italian).

Does anybody remember the one-hit-wonder Right Said Fred? I’m sure that even Right Said (is that his first name?) wouldn’t be “too sexy” for Barolo… unless it were a Barolo made by a modernist producer like Domenico Clerico, who chimed into the “Barolo is the sexiest wine” debacle a few weeks ago saying, “Of course it’s a sexy wine, because it’s fascinating, just like all things that are hard to attain and conquer.”

Maria Teresa Mascarello, a traditionalist producer (one of my all-time favorites), was a little more even-handed in her comment on the “sexy” that never was: “‘Sexy’ can be an ironic term but I believe that Barolo is more of a intellectual wine. That doesn’t mean it’s any less seductive. I might have used the word ‘intriguing’ [to describe Barolo]. I’d use ‘Sexy’ to define a wine that belongs in a lower category.”

Clerico and Mascarello were quoted in Roberto Fiori’s January 19 article published in La Stampa, “According to Americans, Barolo is the sexiest wine.”

Never mind that Eric Asimov never called Barolo “sexy.”

Here’s my original post on the tidal wave of misunderstanding that followed an Italian news agency’s mistranslation of Eric’s January 16 article on Barolo. (The Agenzia Giornalistica Italiana erroneously claimed that he had called Barolo “the sexiest wine.”)

Italians’ views and attitudes about sex are much more liberal than Americans’ and nudity and sexuality are often incorporated into advertising for food and wine. I find it all the more strange that the “sexy” never written caused such a furor there. Below I’ve collected some “sexy” wine images — Italian in provenance — to put it all into perspective.

Alice e il vino is on of Italy’s most popular wine blogs (click image to read the post).

Even the Gambero Rosso — publisher of Italy’s leading wine guide — isn’t above the fray.

I found these bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon from Emilia-Romagna on Italian Ebay.


I’m too sexy for this blog…

I’m too sexy for my love too sexy for my love
Love’s going to leave me

I’m too sexy for my shirt too sexy for my shirt
So sexy it hurts
And I’m too sexy for Milan too sexy for Milan
New York and Japan

And I’m too sexy for your party
Too sexy for your party
No way I’m disco dancing

I’m a model you know what I mean
And I do my little turn on the catwalk
Yeah on the catwalk on the catwalk yeah
I do my little turn on the catwalk

I’m too sexy for my car too sexy for my car
Too sexy by far
And I’m too sexy for my hat
Too sexy for my hat what do you think about that

I’m a model you know what I mean
And I do my little turn on the catwalk
Yeah on the catwalk on the catwalk yeah
I shake my little touche on the catwalk

I’m too sexy for my too sexy for my too sexy for my

‘Cos I’m a model you know what I mean
And I do my little turn on the catwalk
Yeah on the catwalk on the catwalk yeah
I shake my little touche on the catwalk

I’m too sexy for my cat too sexy for my cat
Poor pussy poor pussy cat
I’m too sexy for my love too sexy for my love
Love’s going to leave me

And I’m too sexy for this song

— Right Said Fred