A bratty sparkling Barbera for the summer of 09

Above: The inimitable Michael Housewright (right) with his Italian business partner Antonello Losito. Michael’s new wine bar and shop Block 7 in Houston is on the cutting edge of wine sales and marketing and has already proved a success in highly competitive market.

This dude knows what he’s doing. Michael Housewright’s aggressive pricing at the newly opened Block 7 in Houston is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Every bottle on his list can be ordered by the glass (at market price), by the bottle (at a competitive retail price), or by the case (with case discount) in which case you can open a bottle and drink it in the restaurant/wine bar.

Above: 07 Barbera Vivace (i.e., slightly sparkling) by Roagna Igino (not the other Roagna, producer of old-school Nebbiolo) is competing with Bisson Ciliegiolo as my official favorite wine of the summer of 09.

When Tracie B, her childhood friend Talina, and I dined there the other night, Michael turned me on to a vivace (i.e., slightly sparkling) Barbera by Clò di Roagna Igino. The proprietary name birichina means brat in Italian, in other words, someone who is excessively vivace. Served slightly chilled, the acidity and fruit in this wine was awesome with my burger and fries. We also shared a bottle of Produttori del Barbaresco 2005 Barbaresco with another party: the price was too alluring to resist.

In other news…

Budweiser (well actually Shiner Bock) instead of Barbera tomorrow night: I’m playing my first Austin gig tomorrow at the Broken Spoke with this guy. Not exactly the summer of 1969 (more like the summer of 2009) but I’m stoked to break out my Tele at the Spoke.

Showdown with the Best Sommelier in Town

Round these parts, they call me the San Diego Kid. You see, I’m a cowboy… a wine cowboy, and I ride a silver Hyundai with a six pack slung across my back. It’s a tough job keeping the mean dusty streets of these towns safe for Italian wine. But someone’s got to do it.

Last night, me and my lady Tracie B were at the hoe down when Mark Sayre showed up. Some say he’s the “best sommelier in town” and I knew the moment of Nebbiolo truth had arrived.

He drew a 1999 Pajé by Roagna and said “reach for it, mister!” Me? I reached in my holster for my trusty Produttori del Barbaresco… Luckily for me, I happened to have the 2001 Pora on me. Bullets began to fly and charcuterie was served…