1980 Vallana Spanna BRILLIANT!

Vallana Spanna

Posting in a hurry this morning but just had to transmit the joy contained in a bottle of 1980 Vallana Spanna shared with me last night by my friend and colleague Rob Forman, a dude who really knows his Italian wine.

1980 was not a great vintage in Piedmont and as a matter of fact, I cannot remember tasting anything from Langa nor Novara from that year (if you have any notes on the vintage, please share!).

Slightly shaken by the trip and somewhat cloudy, this wine was no worse for the wear: it was entirely brilliant, alive and fresh, with bright acidity and delicious wild berry fruit and mud. So unbelievably good.

Vallana Spanna

When time permits, I’ll post about some of the fascinating wines that Rob opened with me and a group of Austin wine professionals (the other Pomino, anyone?).

And I’ll also tell the captivating story of how he came into possession of this amazing bottle.

Vallana Spanna

Click on the photo of the back label to view more closely.

That’s all for now, folks. Me? I’m keeping it between the ditches

Maybe it’s the way she grates her cheese: Tracie P’s rice balls

Maybe it’s the way she grates her cheese…

Above: When Tracie P asked me what I wanted for my Sunday night birthday dinner, I told her I would love her fantastic ragù. It was great as always, but she surprised me with RICE BALLS. Unbelievably good…

Whether its Faicco’s in the City or the Focacceria di Ferdinando in Brooklyn, Tracie P knows that I love me some Sicilian rice balls. On Sunday she made me one of my favorite dishes of hers, her ragù, but she surprised me with fried rice balls: stuffed with Brooklyn-style domestic mozzarella, using some leftover risotto alla parmigiana that I had made with Arborio earlier in the week for supper.

Or just the freckles on her knees…

Above: Did I mention that the GIRL CAN COOK?

She ALSO surprised me with a bottle of 2004 Sagrantino di Montefalco by Paolo Bea. This wine, at once extremely tannic and ethereal in the mouth, achieves that magic balance of simultaneous power and lightness in the mouth. It showed stunningly well last night and was such a great pairing for Tracie P’s stellar ragù alla bolognese (via Marcella Hazan).

Maybe it’s the scallions…

Above: Our favorite dried (pastasciutta) egg tagliatelle are made by Rustichella d’Abruzzo. Isn’t funny how Tracie P and I agree on the important things in life? ;-)

My good friend Charles Scicolone is not the only one “blessed” by his wife’s amazing cooking!

Maybe she’s Italian…

blueberry pie

Above: She also made me a DELICIOUS fresh blueberry crostata, a tradition for my birthday started by mama Judy.

My goodness, Tracie P, what a wonderful birthday week (I’ll have to hope my birthday falls in the middle of the week again next year!). I love you so… :-)

The lady sticks to me like white on rice…. She never cooks the same way twice…*

Above: We’ve been having so much fun with our new Polaroid 300 instant camera.

Rev. and Mrs. B and the B family gave me a power drill for my birthday over the weekend when we visited with them on Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country. We SO NEEDED it for our little home and the new library I’ve been setting up. :-)

Thanks, so much Rev. and Mrs. B and B family!

Birthdays used to be a nagging reminder of all the things I haven’t done yet in life. Now they remind me how lucky I am to be surrounded by wonderful folks who share such rich love and warm joy for living with me. Thanks again, also, to everyone for all the warm birthday wishes this week on Facebook, Twitter, and here at the blog… I’ve got so much to be thankful for this year… The words of support mean so much…

* “Eggplant” 1975 (same vintage as Tracie P!) by Michael Franks (my fellow La Jollan)

In other news…

Everyone in Italy is reading BrooklynGuy’s excellent post on old vintages of Vallana Spanna. Be sure to check out Alfonso’s comments to the post as well.