My Problem with Pinot Noir

There’s an unspoken protocol around the water cooler at work. Whenever someone starts extolling the glories of another Pinot Noir..

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My Problem with Pinot Noir

07/31/2014 23:59:00 PM

There’s an unspoken protocol around the water cooler at work. Whenever someone starts extolling the glories of another Pinot Noir, they look around to see if I am near and whisper in hushed tones, “Don’t ever talk to him about Pinot Noir, espec

Oh, The People You’ll Meet! (wanting help with winery visits in Italy)

07/27/2014 17:17:00 PM

For the last few months I have gotten a barrage of notes from folks who are heading to Italy for visits. Most of the time they are asking for places to visit. After all these years, I have begun to notice patterns. Without making too much fun of them

A Midsummer Night’s Scream

07/25/2014 06:30:00 AM

“You’re either going up or you’re going down,” an old political saying goes. And while it was meant for worlds larger than ours, here we are in the middle of summer and where are we going? I don’t really know. Perhaps this is where two week

In pursuit of the (Italian) American dream

07/18/2014 04:09:00 AM

..and other tales told while riding inside the sommambulanceI keep having this dream over and over again. It’s a reoccurring theme. I’m in a restaurant. Pretty paintings on the wall, Bocelli crooning though the speakers, the lights are low. The w

My Dear John Letter to Moscato

07/13/2014 11:29:00 AM

It was bound to happen sooner or later. This was never meant to be forever. It’s 3AM and I don’t even know where to send this, you’re not at home. You haven’t been home in ages. You’re on the constant prowl, looking for new places, new peop

Bursting the Bubble - The Battle for the Luxury Sparkling Wine Market

07/10/2014 07:16:00 AM

July. Slow period. Vacations. Nothing much happening. Right?If you think this is the case, then go right ahead. But right now major campaigns have been launched to capture a share of the lucrative sparkling wine market. I came across two wineries wit

John the Apostle Talks with Jesus: on Water, Natural Winemaking and Large Gatherings

07/03/2014 21:51:00 PM

One of the most misunderstood winemakers in all of time is Jesus Christ. After his miracle at the marriage feast of Cana, criticisms of his wine style stirred the temple. Jesus, a man born to love, was reviled. But what about his wine? Was it the ul

When a DOCG isn't a DOCG - and when that's not enough

06/30/2014 04:47:00 AM

Ahh, Italy, the multifaceted mystery, the oblique seductress, the carefully measured labyrinth. After a day of working in the garden, staring at the ceiling, too tired to sleep, this is the little hamster running on the wheel that was keeping me from

“We have become accustomed to constant change and instant boredom.”

06/26/2014 23:59:00 PM

"The business of wine buying is being handed over to a bunch of fireflies and their life span matches their attention span. It’s no longer about good or even great wines. It’s all about the next wine. Forget about the last wine, even if it was a

Sex and the Cittadella

06/22/2014 12:29:00 PM

From the "You've come a long way, baby" Dept. of Satirical PrognosticationOne of the wonderful aspects about writing about Italian wine, life and culture lies in the Italians ability to stir things up. I might get tired of writing this wine blog (or

Do Americans love and drink Italian wines more than Italians?

06/19/2014 23:59:00 PM

There is a pattern I have noticed lately when talking to Italian winemakers about their production and where they send their wine. That is, the domestic market for selling Italian wine (in Italy) is a mangled mess. Part of this is good news in that t

How to bring your Italian wine to the American market

06/15/2014 18:56:00 PM

No matter which party is dominant in Washington, no matter if the Dow is 16,000 or 1,600, no matter if we are in an unpopular war somewhere in the world, no matter if it all seems like the earth is a big fat match getting ready to be struck on the si

When Wine Experts Aren’t Always Right

06/12/2014 22:22:00 PM

I’m sitting at my table with a dear old friend. We’ve traveled around Italy, France, California. You name it, we’ve been there. If you live long enough, it can happen. Tonight, though, we’re at home. Or rather, I am. He’s still 250 miles fr

California Report ~ 1st Rosé of the Season ~ Everything Starts Over @ 100

06/08/2014 16:07:00 PM

Celebrating 100 years, before flying to Dallas, with a glass of Provence RoséThis past week, the wine trail had me in home state of California judging State Fair Wine Competition. When the week ended I flew down to Newport Beach to pick up my mom, w

In Praise of Funk

06/05/2014 23:55:00 PM

or, 7 ways to keep squirrels from drinking your wineSacramento, California – I am sequestered these past two days with 70+ wine experts for the annual California State Fair Wine Competition. My Italian connection has given me wines from California

Merlot, the most hated grape 10 years running, finds a home in Italy (and in my heart)

06/01/2014 16:20:00 PM

It doesn’t seem that long, but in 2004 the movie Sideways was released. In the film, Pinot Noir was lionized, and to this day, the sales of Pinot Noir are still roaring. Merlot, on the other hand, was excoriated. The character Miles had a famous li

My Wine vs. Your Wine

05/30/2014 06:40:00 AM

Three weeks on the road, driving across Texas - Dallas to Houston to San Antonio to Austin to Dallas - there has been time to talk in the car with my travel mates. We go into a city and see clients, and then get in the car and head to another city. I

7 Questions about Italy, Wine and Passion

05/25/2014 17:03:00 PM

A few months ago on Antonio Galloni’s Vinous “Your Say” site, there was some lively conversation when Monica Larner showed up. She peeked in and said hello and some of the folks were off to find their pitchforks and machetes, whereby she ducked

Italian White Wines for Collectors – Aging with Honor

05/18/2014 10:32:00 AM

Recently, there has been a thread that is developing on these posts. One post, Old Wines for Young Sommeliers, looked into a world the younger generation might consider for their future enjoyment. Another one, White Wine for Red Wine Lovers, focused

What Do I Need to Learn About Italian Wine?

05/11/2014 14:49:00 PM

Wow! How does one answer that one in 1000 words or less? Fortunately I have been asked that question a lot more lately. A new crop of wine salespeople is rushing towards Italian wines. And most of them are women under 30. I see it all now. The beard

The Resistance Report

05/08/2014 16:24:00 PM

Status quo is a tricky thing. If you fight to get your position to dominate, someone will come up from behind and try to make their position superior. We see it all the time in the rarified wine world. Some folks will make a particular wine or wine s

From Italy to Argentina to Texas – A Buffalo Gap Sagra

05/04/2014 09:26:00 AM

You see it often in Italy. A celebration. Of pasta, of tomatoes, of zucchini flowers. Especially during harvest season, as one drives along the roads of Italy, there are signs of local celebrations, or Sagras, as they are known. Deep in the heart of

White Wine for Red Wine Lovers

05/01/2014 06:30:00 AM

and a couple for white wine lovers tooThis past trip to Italy, some of my favorite red wine makers showed me their white wines. Italians aren’t as regimented in their allegiance to red wine as we seem to be in America. In America the sign of having

Old Wines for Young Sommeliers

04/27/2014 17:01:00 PM

From the “what would I put away?” dept.There’s some chatter lately about the young and the old in the wine world. Not having totally destroyed all my memory cells from earlier days, I’d like to share some thoughts about which wines I would bu

Why We Root for Godzilla

04/23/2014 07:45:00 AM

Human beings fear the monster. But we also love the monster. The monster, personified by Godzilla, has an enduring magnetism for many of us. Why do we love the monster so?In between tastings of Lamole Chianti Classico and Bonny Doon’s Vin Gris de C

The Resurrection of Italian Wine

04/20/2014 00:57:00 AM

It is truly a miracle to consider what we humans do to the land and the resilience that land exhibits. We pour chemicals on it, stir them up and grind them in. Then we put more poisons on the plants that grew up from that chemical baptism. When the l

The World’s First Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

04/15/2014 06:32:00 AM

Pietro Losi's 2007 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

#Vinitaly2014 - New white wine, old red wine, Renzi's hashtag (#campolibero) and new bathrooms

04/13/2014 11:00:00 AM

The Loneliest Man in the World

04/10/2014 13:24:00 PM

Sixteen years ago I was walking out of the Vinitaly wine fair with a friend and colleague. Crossing the street, we spotted a well known importer looking at the ground. A local fellow had a shell game going on and he had stopped to look at it. My frie

The Dramas of Life

04/06/2014 00:00:00 AM

Here in Italy, as in everywhere on Spaceship Earth, there are the daily dramas. We all have them. For each and every one of us, our personal dramas are often of utmost importance. After all we are the center of our universe. Our life is most importan

What’s it all about, Alfio?

04/03/2014 00:01:00 AM

After an intense few days in Verona for the Concorso Enologico International, Vinitaly’s wine competition, where I sat as a judge, I made my way from the Veneto. I’m conflicted about many of the wines from that region, mainly because so many prod

Frank Zappa: On Sicilian Wine and Snotty Sommeliers

04/01/2014 06:00:00 AM

As sometimes happens in the eno-blogosphere, magical connections are made. Unbeknownst to me Frank Zappa went to Sicily in 1982 to look up his Sicilian family. I know this because a friend of mine in Verona, Patricia Guy, told me about a recent docum

What's New? What's Compelling? What Are You Looking For?

03/27/2014 05:30:00 AM

Sitting at a table earlier this week with a handful of new wines to taste, I started to think “What’s new about these wines?” I really was thinking “What is compelling” about them. But in our race to find the latest, greatest and rush it to

The Week That Was: Resuming the Hunt for La Cucina Italiana

03/23/2014 22:44:00 PM

Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta moveboThis past week it seemed I had been trapped in a time warp. I’m sure the deaths our family experienced in the past two weeks had something to do with it. One spends time with relatives going over the good

My Other Italy

03/20/2014 23:59:00 PM

This week, while doing a wine dinner for a private group, the subject of where I liked to go in Italy was asked. I hesitated for a moment, thinking to myself “Do I really want to tell all these strangers about my special place in Italy where no one

Great Fast-Track Resources to Learn More About Italian Wine

03/16/2014 11:53:00 AM

Sara Maule of Nino Negri at Caracol in Houston w/wine director Sean BeckIn the past week, while on the road with Sara Maule of Nino Negri, we encountered many questions about Valtellina wine and Italian wine in general. Sommeliers, wine lovers, retai

The Life of a Great Italian, in 12 bottles

03/09/2014 15:45:00 PM

We have finally arrived. I started with eleven others, wrapped ever so carefully in soft, white tissue. Laid ever so gently in the wooden box and covered on top.The voyage from our place of birth to my new world took a long time. First we traveled on

Why Young Wine is as Good as Puppy Love

03/07/2014 07:00:00 AM

Born to be DelectableThere are so many wines available in today’s world that just weren’t around 10 or 20 years ago. In our flatter world, access to good, dependable wine is greater than they have ever been. And Italy has contributed some excelle

Looking for La Morra in All the Wrong Places

03/02/2014 18:17:00 PM

A Cautionary Tale from the LangaMariondino was beginning to feel the winter thaw in his loins. He longed to jump into one of his Cars and steer his little Pira past his Pora to visit his dear Bernadot. “It’s been ages since I saw her sweet little

Live and Let Die

02/27/2014 07:45:00 AM

Letter from a half-full bottle to an apostle of wineI see you, sitting there on the deck of your house overlooking the peaceful valley, watching the sunset. I know you’re tired. But the sun will set soon and you can rest then. We still have half a

The Question of Balance

02/23/2014 15:50:00 PM

How often is it one can be with acquaintances, colleagues and friends and have them raise mirrors to your mind, not once, but several times over the course of three days? The wine gods were shining upon us this week in Northern California. Complete i

The proposed 74th DOCG and the upcoming ban on synthetic lacy underwear in Russia

02/20/2014 01:01:00 AM

"Ain't nothing but a 'G' thang baby"Rumblings out of Italy reveal the DOCG status might be brought out of its EU-induced coma. Halted at “73” and effectively swept into the overall DOP status with 330 of the DOC wines, there was talk that the ark

Cotechino and Sorbara – An Existential Dilemma

02/16/2014 10:19:00 AM

I struggle with pork. If there is a plate of prosciutto nearby, I’m in trouble. “Waste nothing,” the angel whispers in my ear. And then I clean the plate, when nobody is looking. I never find out if the angel was a good one or a bad one until i

"Learning the Joyful Truths"

02/12/2014 08:28:00 AM

"I'd suggest that many young wine drinkers do not have access to the great benchmark wines, the paradigms of profundity that are alas beyond their reach financially. They never learned the joyful truths of hierarchy, or to be stirred to their depths

Southern Italy is Sinking

02/09/2014 13:06:00 PM

We took the back road up to the hilltop village. Peeking behind the sets. The road was in poor shape, potholes and missing pieces of the highway. Something I have grown to expect in Southern Italy. Trash was everywhere. It was as if the people living

Reflections on Italy ~ Regarding La Grande Bellezza

02/06/2014 20:51:00 PM

Forgive me, dear readers. I have been in deep-brain storming meetings off and on for several weeks and my head is bursting with new and with change. It’s all leading somewhere good, but for now I must diverge. And that is deep into this little blog

The Year of the Horse – Starting Off With a Bang

02/02/2014 11:01:00 AM

Anyone who reads this blog, they know how I feel about bragging. That said, I do live in Texas, and bragging rights are part of our patrimony. So grin and bear it. 2014 has started off with a bang, what with tastings across the country. Some of them

Oh, The People You’ll Meet! (At a Winemaker Dinner)

01/30/2014 07:00:00 AM

By my purely unscientific reckoning I’ve participated in over 400 “winemaker” dinners over time. For the most part these have been pleasurable social events. If I was lucky we actually saw information and inspiration imparted and folks went hom

Sexy Italian Wines That I Love

01/26/2014 08:56:00 AM

Cars, women, beaches. Italy is downright sexy. Whether you are 26 or 62, the sensuality of living the Italian life is invigorating. And the wines of Italy are part of that lifestyle.Barolo? Waiting 25 years for something big isn’t sexy. Brunello? S

The Night Caruso Came to Dinner

01/23/2014 14:54:00 PM

L-R my Mom, sisters Josephine and Amelia and brother Felice. Mom and Josephine are living.Texas in the beginning of the 20th century was an outpost. Ft. Worth was the Wild West. My dad’s dad arrived there in 1910 at the age of 15. His first job was

Italy at a Grande and Languorous Impasse

01/19/2014 12:52:00 PM

One of the conundrums for Italian wine is that with all of the varieties of grapes and styles of wines, there are essentially four wines that make up the majority of wines exported into America. Coincidentally those wines mesh with four basic types o

The End of the World – Live at the Apollo

01/16/2014 07:00:00 AM

The Tree of HopeIn New York this week, meetings, end of year wrap-ups, annual trip. While the days are filled with meetings and tastings, the evenings aren’t meant to be so serious. An diversion was planned to Harlem. First stop, the Apollo Theatre

Italian Culture and Compassion in the Post-Berlusconi Era of Francis I

01/12/2014 09:37:00 AM

It hasn’t been a year since Francis became Pope, but already signs abound for a new direction in Italy. After 25 years under the allure of Berlusconi’s idolatry of money and power, Italy needs to reflect and repair. Whether a Jesuit from the New

Are There Too Many DOP’s in Italy?

01/10/2014 08:01:00 AM

Since Italy aligned their wine regulations with the European Community in 2012, the unbridled enthusiasm to rush wine towards the vaunted DOCG position has been stultified. With 73 DOCG’s and 330 DOC’s rolled into the DOP categorization, some hav

What a Jesuit priest, a Zen monk and a Yaqui shaman taught me about life, wine and Italy

01/05/2014 10:38:00 AM

“There is a crack between the two worlds.” – Don Juan MatusIn time, the perception of things as they are and as they seem are two sides of a wall. Spending one’s life piercing that wall is the work of ones who aspire to a simpler existence. P

Italian Wine in 2014 - Personal Strategies for Collecting - Part II

01/02/2014 23:59:00 PM

During the last two weeks I’ve had more than one occasion to dig into my wine closet and pull out some gems. Barolo, Brunello, Champagne, old California wine, Hermitage, vintage Port and some older whites from Friuli and Marche. And while the cella

The O-N-D Winelovers Diet

12/29/2013 09:59:00 AM

Hint: Eat lots of fruit The wine and food industry can take its toll. Days of tastings followed by lunches, dinners and more tastings. No one’s complaining but after 30 years the wines (and the pounds) add up. The high selling season known as O-N-D

A Milestone on the Wine Trail in Italy

12/28/2013 07:00:00 AM

Dec 28, 2005, eight years ago, I started On The Wine Trail Italy. There weren't a lot of wine bloggers back then. Hell, electricity had just been discovered a few years before and the internets were still in diapers. But here we are now, 1,100 blog p

Italian Wine in 2014 - Personal Strategies for Collecting - Part I

12/22/2013 12:48:00 PM

I’m very worried. The world is getting flatter. And with that folks, in every corner are finding out about wine. And they are collecting it. Until now, many of the collectors have been collecting classified growth Bordeaux, grand marque Champagne,

The Mystery of Italian Wine

12/19/2013 08:22:00 AM

Recently I spent a day with some of the brightest mystery writers in America. Long a fan of the Judge Dee series and the Inspector Montalbano mystery series (tip of the hat to Eric Asimov, who turned me on to them), I admit Italian wine can be a bit

The Old California Wine

12/13/2013 07:17:00 AM

From the "What's old is new again" deptHolidays are the perfect time to bring out the wines you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Food, relaxed times, friends and family; what are you saving it for? Many of us who have been drinking wine and c

Chianti: An Elusive Arrangement, Wrapped in a Fiasco, Inside a Conundrum

12/08/2013 12:12:00 PM

How is it classic wine regions like Bordeaux, Napa, the Mosel, are relatively easy to follow but Tuscany’s Chianti zone is still baffling to me and others? This question has been one I have asked for decades. I’ve read every book I could get my h

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