Gragnano the wine for “all things warm and gooey”

Fish tacos probably weren’t what G-d had in mind when he created Gragnano (on the eight day?) — one of favorite wines of the summer of 2011. But, man, was the wine delicious last night at Bahia Don Bravo, our number-one taco shack when we’re in San Diego (where the owner allows me to bring in my own wines).

I’d had some decent however mediocre Gragnano before I met Tracie P but it was on a fateful day in New York City on our way to Europe a few years ago that I tasted a wine that put everything into focus. The wine we tasted was actually Lettere — Gragnano’s sister appellation — but I saw the world in a different light from that day onward.

I am happy to report that the excellent Gragnano by Cantine Federiciane has finally made its way to Southern California. (You can taste it by the glass starting tonight at Sotto in Los Angeles where I’ll be pouring wine tonight and tomorrow night; and the wine is also available through my wine club in this month’s Summer Six-Pack offering.)

There’s no one in my world who knows more about Gragnano than Tracie P, who lived in Gragnanoland (Naples and the Amalfi Coast) for nearly five years. Here’s what she had to say this morning about Gragnano:

    I dare you not to like Gragnano (and its sister Lettere). Born in the Sorrentine peninsula, this is an irresistibly spritzy wine made to go with pizza, panuozzi, and all things warm and gooey. Like the self-deprecating comedian, the humility and spontaneity of this wine are its most endearing traits. Just say Sciascinoso and try not to smile.

Btw, Sciasinoso, one of the grapes in Gragnano together with Piedirosso and Aglianico, is pronounced SHAH-shee-NOH-zoh. Are you smiling yet? And do you see why I love her madly?

The mixed seafood cocktail was also fantastic last night at Bahia and if I do say so myself, my pairing with the Ciù Ciù Offida Pecorino was brilliant (it’s also available in the six-pack, btw).

But the highlight at dinner last night was meeting Jayne and Jon’s newborn Romy!

Isn’t she a beauty???!!! We are so thrilled for Jayne and Jon.

That’s all I got today. Gotta get my butt up to LA! Thanks for reading!

The new DOCG list and a killer Offida Pecorino

Above: The 2008 Offida Pecorino Le Merlettaie by Ciù Ciù is the best Pecorino I’ve ever tasted in the U.S. Really, really dug this wine.

“Official” is a relative qualifier in Italy. And I make that statement with all due respect and sans ironie. In the linear, Protestant thought processes of the Anglo-Saxon mindset, actors tend to see things in “black or white,” “day or night,” “yes or no”… In the non-linear, Catholic all-embracing Romance understanding of the world and the way it works, lines are blurred and absolutes are malleable. (Does anyone remember Bertolucci’s treatment of absolutes and Plato’s cave in Il conformista, 1970?)

Above: Le Merlettaie is named after the famous lacemakers of Offida. The merletto a tombolo (tombolo is the pillow used to make the lace) is one of the great national treasures of Italy. I found this video showing how the lace is made.

In the wake of the publication of Alfonso Cevola’s update DOCG list, contentious emails have been hurled across the internets this morning debating the currency of the “official” number of DOCGs. I guess it depends what your definition of “is” is.

The only thing I know for certain is that Alfonso has done the wine world a service by compiling and diligently updating the list. Whether you’re a Master Sommelier candidate studying for your exam or your a server in a fine-dining establishment who wants to be able to discuss the Italian appellation system intelligently with your patrons, his list is an indispensable tool in deciphering the canon law of Italian wine.

Above: To DOC or DOCG… I say “schlemiel, schlimazel!” Pecorino, when vinified in a traditional manner, is delicious (BTW, the schlemiel spills his soup on the schlimazel.)

I can also confirm that Offida Pecorino will be equally delicious when it attains its new “Terre di Offida” DOCG status. The one that we drank last night showed sturdy acidity and a wonderfully viscous mouthfeel, with nutty and stone fruit notes.

In other news…

Last night, Tracie P made ragù alla bolognese for Nous Non Plus and the utterly inimitable and magical David Garza who came over to listen to our tracks and sprinkle some of his amazing gold dust on us. He brought a beautiful 1964 handmade nylon string guitar and it was amazing to hear him play and noodle on the patio before dinner. He’s performing the last concert of his residency at the Continental Club (gallery) in Austin on Monday night.