Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo is here! (and my band circa 1993)

Above: Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo is the Prosecco that I tasted back in the early 1990s when I was living in the Veneto. Bottle fermented, lees aged, unfiltered, salty, crunchy Prosecco made from 100% Glera. That’s the traditional glass, btw, for real Prosecco. No flutes please!

The story of how Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo got to the U.S. stretches back to the early 1990s when I was the band leader of a cover band touring the Veneto during my summers off from graduate school.

Above, from left: me, Shawn Amos, and Charlie George circa 1993 in the village of Pedavena (Feltre).

After I found success doing a piano bar act in the many pubs and beer houses that line the Piave river, the owner of one of the venues, Renato Dal Piva (who later became one of my best friends in Italy), asked me if I’d be interested in doing a summer residency at the historic Pedavena beer garden just outside of Feltre.

Above, from left: My super good friend and amazing guitar player and all-around musician Gabriele “Elvis” Inglesi and the rest of us at the façade of the Siena duomo. We also played a one-night stand in Montalcino in the village of Bagno Vignoni, a night of fried wild-boar liver and Sangiovese.

That was an amazing and unforgettable time in my life. I was in my twenties, studying Italian philology and cinema, living on the many scholarships I won (including a Fulbright), and playing in a cover band at beer festivals (many of them celebrating unpasteurized beer) throughout the Veneto during the summers.

Above: I believe that this article was published in Il Mattino di Padova. If you really want to read it (in Italian), click the image for a PDF (very large file!).

Fast forward to 2010: I get a Facebook message from Riccardo Zanotto who used to come every summer to see us play and drink many, many beers with us.

In early 2011, on the occasion of my trip to Italy with Tracie P, he organizes a tasting of a small group of brave young producers who are making REAL Prosecco, the wines that I used to drink during my years there in an era before the consumerist hegemony of yeasted, banana-candy large-vat fermented Prosecco (you know the brands).

Here’s the link to our tasting notes.

Riccardo’s Prosecco Col Fondo is bottle fermented, lees aged, unfiltered, and unsulfured.

It’s being brought to California by a Los Angeles importer: I’m making it available for sale retail through my wine club and we’re doing a public tasting of the wine in San Francisco at Ceri Smith’s excellent shop Biondivino on Friday, August 17, 6-8 p.m.

I couldn’t be more thrilled… if only because we love these wines and we want to drink them!

And some story, huh? See, mom? All those years of rock ‘n’ roll actually delivered some great rewards… and they just keep on giving…

Thanks for reading, yall!

Up in smoke in Austin…

apple juice

Above: Josh used apple juice to baste the pork shoulder.

Folks in Texas like to smoke. No, no, no… It’s not what your thinking. They like to smoke their food.


Above: Smoked pork shoulder was the main attraction.

In other places where I’ve lived, lots of folks like to break out the hibachi or Weber when summer arrives. But, in Austin, a lot of our friends will stoke up the smoker, sometimes the night before.


Above: Josh’s dad gave Seana and him this new smoker as a housewarming gift. They just moved in together and last night’s was a house-warming party. Congrats Seana and Josh!

Last night, Tracie B and me went to a “smoker” party at our friends’s, Seana and Josh.

stuffed jalapeno

Above: Bacon-wrapped jalapeños stuffed with Philadelphia cream cheese.

Josh smoked up whole apples, whole cloves of garlic, a pork shoulder, steaks, bacon-wrapped jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese, and bratwurst.

deviled eggs

Above: Seana’s deviled eggs. All I can say is HELL YEAH! They’re almost as good as Tracie B’s Mee Maw’s. ;-)

We had a blast at the party, listening to Michael Jackson and arguing over the finer points of his career, remembering all those moments from high school when you heard a song for the first time or how many times you played it over and over on cassette tapes. (Check my friend Shawn Amos’s moving and funny remembrance of Michael Jackson.)

Congrats, Seana and Josh on y’all’s new place!

In other news: flash back 1978…

Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke was released in 1978.

The Jacksons released their first self-produced album, Destiny and their single “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” hit number 7 on the Billboard charts.

The minimum wage was $2.65 and Vietnam invaded Cambodia.

I turned 11 and my whole life changed in 1978.