Check out Avvinare’s post in the “Remember Abruzzo” series. Thank you, Susannah, for participating!
Above: We dined yesterday evening atop Howell Mt. in Napa Valley, looking out on to one of the most beautiful (and most manicured) vineyards I’ve ever seen. Napa Valley take-out isn’t just any old take-out: roast brisket sandwiches, locally grown lettuces, and can’t-be-beat California asparagus.
It’s hard to believe… neither Tracie B nor I have ever been to Napa Valley.
Above: Tracie B looked so beautiful in the early evening light atop the mountain, the lush valley playing backdrop to the golden sunlight on her face.
Frankly, I am embarrassed that I know so little about the winemaking history and tradition of my own country — and my home state, for that matter. As Craig Camp points out rightly, wine professionals — above all — should drink locally.
Above: From left, Tracie B., Dan Redman (the owner of the company I work for), Dan’s lovely wife Melinda, and our friend Elton Slone.
We’ve only been here for a day but it’s been fascinating to see these places — some of them, the most famous growing sites in the world — and try to wrap my mind around what Napa Valley is and what it means.
Above: Our hotel room in downtown Napa looks out on to the Napa river.
I’m posting in a rush this morning as we get ready to go out and taste with some of the wineries the company I work for represents but I’m sure Tracie B and I will both have lots to post about in the days that follow.
Above: From left, the guy I work for, Dan Redman, and winemaker Maynard Keenan look out on Maynard’s top growing site. The limestone-rich vineyards are terraced like the ones I’ve seen in Chianti Classico.
Did I turn on, tune in, and drop out somewhere near Sedona? Have I drunk the Kool-Aid? Did I inadvertently eat the brown acid?
Above: The high desert in Arizona is an awe-inspiring place. I wish my camera could do it justice.
I have to confess that I was skeptical: the thought of finding anything less than entirely spoofilated wine in Arizona seemed chimerical.
But what I discovered instead was honest winemakers trying to make real wine. The wines I tasted and the people I talked to gave me a lot to think about. Terroir, I remembered, is not just about soil, exposure, and climate. It’s also about people and what they believe in. Every tradition (and every cult, as it were) has to begin somewhere.
Above: An almond tree adjacent to one of the vineyards I visited. Maynard practices integrated farming and at one of his sites, he has built a small swamp that he hopes will encourage pollination of the young vineyards.
Dan and I will post more about our visit at the Mosaic blog next week. Right now I’ve got to get my butt back to Phoenix and get on a plane to the Bay Area to meet up with Tracie B.
Above: They told me that Axl Rose and Howard Stern are regulars at the resort where I ate a delicious, spicy bowl of posoles with chicken and pork.
The Latins liked to say that nomina sunt consequentia rerum (names are the consequence of things). If ever there were an irony to that saying, it applies in the case of Alessio Occhiocupo, above, 28 years old, a native of Abruzzo, a photo reporter, based in Madagascar where he’s working on a photo essay of life there. His last name, Occhiocupo, literally means dark eye.
I was recently put in touch with Alessio by Stefano Illuminati of the Dino Illuminati winery, one of Abruzzo’s leading wineamakers (I am a big fan of his Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane Zanna Riserva).
Alessio was kind enough to share some photographs of wine country in Abruzzo, like the one below.
My friends Alfonso, Alessandro, and Mosaic Wine Group have remembered Abruzzo by posting about the region today. If you’d like a photo of Abruzzo to post on your blog, please send me an email and I’ll send you some of Alessio’s beautiful photos (I’m working all day today in Dallas so I’ll send out the photos tomorrow).
Please remember Abruzzo and help the victims of the April earthquake there by drinking Abruzzo wines and visiting Abruzzo on your next trip to Italy.
And so the endless summer came to an end… A special thanks to all my friends and the bloggers and fans who came out to see us play on Thursday in San Francisco, Friday in San Jose, and Saturday in Los Angeles at Spaceland. The date at Spaceland on Saturday marked the last show in a string of performances supporting our current release Ménagerie. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to see everyone in Paris, New York, and California — especially Talina who flew in from Houston to see us in LA and Jon and John who drove up from San Diego with a magnum of Produttori del Barbaresco 2003 in tow.
Thanks also to Aeronaut Records and our manager John Mastro for putting the tour together and our publicist Brooke Black at Big Hassle for her support.
And an extra special thanks to my super fine lady, Tracie B, for sharing the music with me and making me truly feel like the luckiest guy in the world this weekend.
I love playing music and playing music will always be part of my life but now it’s time for the San Diego Kid to swing that 6-pack of wine across his back and hit the road again with his trusty horse Dinamite.
Mosaic Wine Group (the company I work for), Tracie B, and I will be headed to back to California this week for the Kermit Lynch tasting in San Francisco. Stay tuned…
On Sunday evening, following the Texas Hill Country Food and Wine Festival, where Tracie B and I had a blast tasting, schmoozing, and pouring wines, we took our friend Paolo Cantele to our FAVORITE Austin honky tonk, Ginny’s Little Longhorn (above), where we played chicken sh*& bingo.
Check out this fun post I did over at the blog to which I contribute for Mosaic Wine Group.*
* Warning: contains graphic image!
O tempora, o mores, to borrow a phrase from Cicero. Times are tough all around and these days I’m slinging a wine bag on my back and hitting the streets, hawking wine. I’m a traveling salesman like my maternal grandfather Maurice (poppa, we used to call him; my paternal grandfather was a rabbi, our zaidi — Yiddish for grand-père — but that’s another story). But as fate would have it, I consider myself lucky inasmuch I get to sell a lot of wines that I genuinely love (my new gig is with the Austin-based Mosaic Wine Group; check out the new blog we launched here). The other day I got to pour multiple vintages of one of my favorite wines (as anybody who follows my blog knows so well), Produttori del Barbaresco: I led a guided tasting of the 2004 and 2005 Barbaresco and 2006 Langhe Nebbiolo the other night at The Austin Wine Merchant in downtown Austin, Texas.
I didn’t get to participate in the Piedmont edition of Wine Blogger Wednesday, orchestrated smashingly by David McDuff at his excellent blog McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail, and so he graciously honored me with a guest blogger spot writing about Produttori del Barbaresco and my recent tasting notes at his kick-ass web log (one of my daily reads).
To read my tasting notes (including my translation of the winery’s 2006 vintage notes), click here.
In other news…
As my friend and dissertation adviser Luigi Ballerini used to say whenever we ate Japanese: oh tempura, oh soy sauce!