Idol and Bandol

Above: On Tuesday nights, Tracie B and I watch American idol, play armchair critic, and open a good bottle of wine. Last night we splurged (in celebration of my Princeton translation) and opened the 2007 Bandol Rosé by Tempier, which I found at a surprising palatable price at a “local” market. We paired with her excellent nachos.

The counterpoint wasn’t lost on me and Tracie B last night: we watched what may be the apotheosis of the commercialized and reified American dream (where rags-to-riches hopes are dashed or indemnified by the almighty texting hand of the American consumer) and we sipped a rosé made by a small winery in Provence in the south of France, that counts a meager 8 employees and just 30 hectares (that’s about 74 acres, 6 less than 2 X 40 acres and 2 mules!).

Tracie B and I had tasted the rouge a few weeks ago and she had not-so-subtly mentioned how she wanted to taste the winery’s famous rosé. There’s not a lot of this wine in the U.S. and not a lot of it made: according to Domaine Tempier’s site, its total production is 120,000 bottles, of which 29% is the rosé. I really wanted to surprise Tracie B with a bottle and I struck out at a few of my favorite wine stores.

But when I called my colleague, wine specialist Jen Powell, at a little local grocery store called Whole Foods in Austin, she told me that she had a nice allocation — at a great price. Btw, just because I work in the wine trade doesn’t mean I don’t have to buy wine like everyone else (even though the company I work for reps this wine!).

Above: Tracie B’s nachos are awesome. You can read her recipe here. The bright acidity in the rosé was a perfect match for the spicy flavors of the salsa, the wine’s tannin a great complement to the fat of the refried beans and her sautéed ground turkey topping.

One can argue whether or not Tempier’s Bandol Rosé is the best in the world (as a few did in the comments of a recent post), but when you taste this wine, there’s no question that it is a hand-crafted, artisanal wine that truly tastes of place where it is made, Provence — a classic and superior example of a terroir-driven wine, imported by rock star terroiriste Kermit Lynch, who, btw, just launched a new blog.

I can’t help but wonder (on tax day in our great land): is our country interesting because our Coca Cola (official sponsor American Idol) culture reigns supreme or because at our “local” markets we can find the wines of a tiny little winery in Provence in southern France, where slopes are so steep that they must be tended by hand? Or is our country interesting at all? Or does the answer lie in the fact that the two phenomena live side-by-side?

Rock on Bandol, rock on idol.

Banfi manufactures consent

The strangest post found its way to my inbox yesterday. In it, someone who calls her/himself WineCentric reports that last year the Banfi winery “came under fire from Italian authorities who claimed that varietals other than Sangiovese were being blended into Brunello di Montalcino” and she/he claims that the winery “has emerged sagacious and smelling as sweet as the rose petal and raspberry bouquet found in their Rosa Regale sparkler… Lab tests eventually cleared Banfi of any impropriety.”

Sagacious? Smelling sweet as rose petal?

Reports by leading Italian news outlets don’t jive with such claims. According to L’Espresso, for example, wineries like Banfi had to declassify considerable amounts of Brunello in order for their products to be allowed back on the market.

I wrote to Winecentric but received no response.

I’m sorry, Banfi: you still stink… Me? I’m just trying to keep the world safe for Italian wine.

Fight the power…

Anyone who’s ever had sweet potato pie…

Don’t want pumpkin again.

Kinda predictable: I brought a bottle of 2004 Produttori Barbaresco to the B Family Thanksgiving. We also drank a NV Langlois rosé (Cabernet Franc) that showed really well.

I’d never tasted a fresh pecan before. Mrs. B made a sweet potato pie topped with fresh pecans and marshmallows. Anyone who’s ever had a really good sweet potato pie won’t want pumpkin again!

Tracie B made an awesome pecan pie.

Homemade green bean casserole was topped with garlic bread crumbs and carrots braised with cilantro and jalapeños.

Thank you Mrs. and Mr. B for letting me share your Thanksgiving with you!

*****

Sweet Potato Pie
— Al Jarreau

Now it was a hot sticky morning
‘Round the Fourth of July
The breeze was standing still
I’m hanging out by myself
And I’m having a good time
With the folk inside my head
And you know, Lord,
how you did a lovely thing
See, times my head is lighter
than it’s ever been
And anyone who’s ever had
sweet potato pie
Don’t want pumpkin again,
no, they don’t want

‘Cause it don’t taste right, no
Look-a-here city boy with your
silks and braided hair
Don’t you let nobody fool you
with no imitation nothing
Tell ’em, say, unh, unh, buddy,
I been there
Listen mama, when you
finally walk on in
Don’t forget to bring along
your sweet potato tin
‘Cause when you serve him
a slice of your sweet potato sin

girl, he won’t want pumpkin again
no, he won’t want
Now I took a trip down to Sissy’s
She’s a friend of mine
She smiled and asked me in
Well, she drew a box and a big,
fancy question mark
Said, “Brother, which one is you in?”
I told her, “Sister, don’t worry
’bout the mule going blind
You just sit in the wagon and
hold on to the line
‘Cause anyone who’s ever had
sweet potato pie
Don’t want pumpkin again,
really don’t want”

Now I saw the gates
gold and pearl
And I sat right down
in a dream of you, old friend
I’m thinking some milk and
honey and a pot of stew
Might fill that gap again
You know, I’m a thankful
witness to the things I’ve seen

And times my head is lighter
than it’s ever been
And anyone who’s ever had
sweet potato pie
Really don’t want pumpkin again,
no they won’t want

Would you give me some
sweet potato y’all

Q&A: Disgorging Movia Puro

This morning, one of my favorite wine bloggers, Brooklynguy, stopped by Do Bianchi and inquired about Movia’s Puro (yesterday, I posted a photo of Jon Erickson of Jaynes Gastropub disgorging a bottle of the traditional method sparkling wine).

The unusual thing about this wine is that Aleš Kristančič of Movia does not disgorge the wine before release. If handled properly, the wine is stored upside down so that the sediment settles in the neck of the bottle. In order to disgorge it, you place the bottle upside down in a vessel filled with water (ideally a clear punch bowl or similar), you hold the cork in one hand as you gently twist the bottle with the other, and when the sediment is released into the water, you turn the bottle right side up. As long as the sediment has settled entirely in the neck before disgorging, the wine will be clear (not cloudy).

Earlier this year, I found this YouTube video of an Italian sommelier disgorging a bottle (note that he has another bottle positioned upside down in a black cardboard tube that Movia now ships with the wine):

It looks like it’s hard to do and the first time you do it, your instinct is that the bottle is going to “backfire” toward you. But it’s actually really easy and while Nous Non Plus was staying at Movia in April, Aleš had each of us disgorge a bottle (even the girls and the drummer). I know that at least one NYC retailer of Italian wines sends out erroneous instructions about disgorging the wine: despite what the so-called “Italian wine experts” claim, you DO NOT NEED TO FREEZE THE SEDIMENT IN THE NECK of the bottle. You simply need to store the bottle upside down at your preferred serving temperature (I like my Puro at “cellar” temperature, not overly chilled).

He makes it look easy (and it is): Jean-Luc Retard (vox, bass) aka Dan Crane aka Björn Türoque disgorges a bottle of Movia Puro Rosé during a break from our recording session in May. We didn’t have a punch bowl so we used the sink in the studio’s kitchen. Björn is a veteran Air Guitar champ: check out his website.