What was it like to dust off my passport? It was brilliant! From the moment I hit Delta and ran for my ritual martini I was off and flying. My mood lifted. I sprinted like a kid down the runway to the gate. And then I landed in Milan. Took a train to Parma where my travel buddy and barkeep of Tabarro, Diego Sorba picked me up. In an hour we were at his wife’s 94-year-old grandmother’s yard and Sunday lunch for 18 or so. Cinghiale and polenta for them. Polenta and leaves of lettuce for me.
Reinforced and sustained, I saw some raw talent and gave his daughter and her best friend their first Morris dance class. Brilliant girls.
Me and my two sweethearts.
That night I jetlagged outside of Tabarro while Diego played host, putting me in the vicinity of some of his regulars. There was one fiery Romanian, one energetic heart doctor, an eccentric doctor-turned-antique peddler, and an enthusiastic x-ray technician on the eve of starting sommelier training. Soon we were at one table, drinking. Lots.
Knowing anchovies cure jetlag, Diego served me some from Cantabria along with an assortment of Brittany butter. Those salty anchovies and the lemony Vinu Jancu (2019) I had brought with me, along with the smoked version of the butter? Heavenly synchrony.
La Garagista’s wine charmed the Parma crowd.
I was very well-entertained and yet pulled myself away at 1 am, knowing that in the morning I’d have to be on my feet with a working brain and palate.
Diego on the job.
Monday morning Diego and I were on the road towards Lazio, seeking to understand its soul, its problems and its cesanese. Stay tuned.
At the end of our hunt, I took the train to Rome from Frascati. A handful of euros and 32 minutes later, I arrived for a day-and-a-half rendezvous with my friends Elizabeth (who lives in Rome) and Melissa (there to be the honored guest on Elizabeth’s tour). Nourishment was had in so many ways.
Speaking of nourishment, if you’re interested in high-level travel and food experiences, Elizabeth should be your first stop. It really doesn’t get better (having played guest wine person on one of them I saw the group and the planning up close and personal.) The trips E. and her daughter Sophie design give you an inside view in a way you could never, ever do on your own.
The three reunited on a Roman rooftop.
But meanwhile, back at home. During the holidays a piece of mine ran in Trink magazine (with fabulous illustration from Anna Brones) about wines that spoke German and my problem with them. It was difficult to write. I was nervous about putting my thoughts down. But the reception stunned me. So positive. I’m not exactly sure why except it seems that I gave voice to many a similar experience. Give Trink a look. They are upping the ante on literature in winelit. And after torturing myself in August with pre-dawn interviews and a killer deadline, my sake story ran online in AFAR magazine. Looking forward to the print version in their Winter 2021 issue.
Hey, do I have any readers in the Denver area? I’ll be presiding over an Aligoté seminar at the Boulder Burgundy Wine Festival. 11 am on the 22st of October. Come! Some of you might be surprised by my love of Burgundy, but no, it’s not all fancy and grand cru. There is soul – and I aim to show participants that they will drink far better if they stop label hunting and just follow the beauty.
The tasting fairs are starting to return. Wild World Festival hits Red Hook on November 1st. I’ll be moderating a panel on co-fermentation, the history, the hype, and the future. There’s going to be a lot of crazy stuff to taste there so this will work on both intellectual and sensual levels. Make sure you are vaccinated!
The organizers are offering TFL subscribers a discount for signing up. Here’s the detail:
Head to the URL and use the code FEIRINGLINE. It’s $65 for the 11AM – 7PM ticket (normally $75).
I had planned to share the truth about piquette, the man behind it, and how it became a sensation this week, but we had some glitches on the design side. So, look for them and of course the wines, next Friday.
I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.