Posts Filed Under Italian Wine
Following is a guest post from Chicago-born poet and food-and-travel writer Matthew Gavin Frank, who is, by the account of any reasonably sane person, a very interesting guy.
Frank has, at turns, held the following jobs:
- proprietor of an Alaskan breakfast joint
- menu designer for Julia Roberts’s private parties in Taos
- sommelier for Chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand in Chicago
- instructor of creative writing to undergraduates in Phoenixa
- poetry teacher to soldiers and their families near Fort Drum in upstate New York.
I told you he was an interesting character.
If that doesn’t totally sell you, this probably will:
Frank has just released the book Barolo (The University of Nebraska Press, 2010), which, as he described it to me, is “about my illegal work in the Piemontese Italian food and wine industry,” during which he spent six months “living out of a tent in the garden of the local Pittatore farmhouse.”
Frank’s guest post is excerpted (with permission) from Barolo (around $17 at Amazon.com), and describes his first meeting with Piemontese vintner Luciano Sandrone, who sounds like the Italian version of Wolverine. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did, though I suppose that we’re going to have to get the book to find out how what happens next in this intriguing tale…
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Usually I prefer to know when wine samples are coming to my door. For the most part this has to do with the vagaries of logistics (will someone be around to sign for the package?), but just as importantly I prefer to know that the wine has some potential value for 1WineDude.com readers (you folks like that hard-to-find, more interesting juice).
Also, I need to find room in my basement, which is overrun with Styrofoam packing material that needs to be driven down to DE for recycling. Either that, or I’m gonna build a huge Styrofoam wall, and then bust out of it and scare the living shit out of my dog…
Anyway, it’s a really, really nice surprise when an unsolicited sample actually rocks the Kasbah and does have potential value for the 1WD crowd; when that random bottle that just shows up and causes my dog to absolutely freak out beyond all reason at the approach of the UPS truck (if you ever want to know what it’s like to dislocate your shoulder, just walk my dog around my neighborhood during UPS delivery time) is all worth it.
Which is why I recently did a double-head fake after tasting the 2006 Bastianich Tocai Plus – a rare moment when the odd random sample provided true blogging serendipity. I dare say it was even worth all of the mad barking, as this wine offers a nice helping of Friulian ass-kickery…
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It looks like my fears of VINO 2010’s “Blogging on Wine and Social Networking: New Tools in reaching Consumers of Italian Wine ” panel discussion possibly deteriorating into a blogger-bashing session can probably be put to rest.
In an attempt to expand the reach of the event beyond the walls of the Waldorf Astoria, VINO 2010 appointed James Rodewald, former Drinks Editor of Gourmet magazine, as its official blogger representative. James will be tweeting live from the event as well as covering the event on the official blog (which contains a blogroll of the bloggers who are attending VINO 2010) – all steps in the right direction.
What really convinced me, though, are the panelists for the session on Blogging, which include friends of mine who I know for a fact understand the power of blogging in the wine world – namely, Alder Yarrow of Vinography.com and Steve Raye from Brand Action Team.
And what sold me lock, stock, and wine barrel was this: for the panel on social media and blogging, the details will be covered live via the web and James will be taking questions for the panel via twitter:
“On Thursday, February 4th at 10AM – the "VIRTUAL VINO, MILLENNIALS, AND SOCIAL MEDIA DECANTED" panel discussion moderated by Anthony Dias Blue with Alder Yarrow (vinography.com), Dave Cook (Twitter), Steve Raye (Brand Action Team), and Ronn Wiegand. James will be monitoring the Twitter feed and posing questions Tweeted in from throughout the country. The seminar will focus on social media and wine bloggers as the future of consumer wine education, and potentially the wine trade. You and your readers can tune in to the panel discussion at www.italianmade.com/vino2010.”
Now, if the on-line wine community excels at anything, it’s keeping people honest. So I expect a pretty balanced and honest discussion about wine blogging and social media for that panel.
Whew… ok, I feel better now…
When you write about wine, it’s easy to start becoming a little… jaded isn’t the right word… actually, yeah, jaded is the right word but it’s soooo overused… how about effete?… okay, a bit effete regarding wines that are typical of their varietal character and place of origin. When they’re really, really good, you don’t tire of them – at least, I don’t – but when wines are pretty good it’s easy for your tasting eye (I hope I’m the first and last person to ever use that image…) to start to wander, like a bored husband starting to check out the college cheerleaders at an NCAA tournament game.
Boring. That’s the word.
Truth be told (though it’s not like I lie to you on a regular basis), the “regular” stuff can get a little boring sometimes.
Which is why I like to try new things when I get the chance, so I did not turn down Rosa D’Oro when they offered me samples of some of their current releases – they’re a family-run outfit in Lake County, CA, that specialize in making wine from Old World Italian varieties. Now that’s different – and probably not boring, I thought, despite the fact that most CA-transplanted Italian varietal wines I’ve had have more-or-less sucked. They might not turn out to be good, but the experience wouldn’t be boring!
Not that I don’t encourage the spirit of experimentation beyond the norm – I do – but some of those broken eggs in the omelet-making process are kind of rotten.
What was even more intriguing to me than their list of offerings (Refosco? really?!??) was their clear intent on engaging the “new media” of wine – reaching out to wine bloggers, advertising in new trend-busting publications like Mutineer, attending new media-themed events like Wine 2.0, and authoring their own (very well-written) blog.
So, I worked my way through a sampling of Rosa D’Oro Refosco, Sangiovese, and Muscat Canelli – varieties more closely affiliated with Italy than Northern Cali.
And they’re among the best attempts at adapting Old World Italian wine to CA climate that I’ve ever tasted.
The `07 Muscat Canelli was a surprise, starting with dry green grape but taking on more intense citrus aromas a it warmed in the glass; on the palate, it’s bracingly acidic and immediately made me want to summon up a salad with oranges and lump crab.
The reds were just as pleasantly surprising as the Muscat. The Refosco was the more interesting of the two, with a complex nose that covered the gamut from florals to red fruit and even leather. The palate was less complicated but still interesting and very tannic (you’ll want some meat handy for this one). The `07 Sangiovese was eerily close to feeling like it had come from a Chiant satellite region; it lacked the dried orange peel character of the most kickin’ Chiantis, but it certainly had enough red fruit character, tannin, and acidic structure to suggest it would evolve well for another 2-3 years in the bottle.
The really adventurous among you might want to try lining up some Rosa D’Oro selections in a comparison tasting with their Northern and Central Italian counterparts, but I’ve got diapers to change so I don’t have the time to run that conceit through to its logically conclusion (and I’ve tasted enough wines from CA and Italy to tell you that I think I can predict the outcome).
For now, I’ll settle for he knowledge that the concept of “CalItalia” wine is far from a lost cause.
(images: nscpcdn.com), rosadorowines.com)