Yes, I sell wine for a living and I write about my products here on this site. I am proud to represent the products in AI Selections portfolio. In my opinion, it’s one of the most interesting collections of imported wine around- that’s why I took the job.
In our industry it is customary that a salesperson “supports” her own products in her accounts. This means we drink our own wines- wines we have sold into these restaurants and wine bars.
The funny thing is, for the first time in my career I feel absolutely NO pressure to do this. AI Selectionswas founded by David Weitzenhoffer, former Wine Director for Felidia in NYC. If anyone appreciates the fascinating diversity of the wine world, and recognizes the sheer importance of knowing as many wines as possible, it’s David. Consequently, I do not feel I HAVE to order my own wines in our accounts.
I love having the opportunity to taste new and exciting wines being brought into the US by pioneering importers like Vinity. I happened upon LA salesguy extraordinaire Ned Teitelbaum at Terronithe other day and he let me taste this gorgeous little gem from a winery I had never heard of before: Azienda Agricola Lusenti, in the Colli Piacentini.
The wine is made from 100% Malvasia di Canida, a variety local to this part of Emilia-Romagna. The name Bianca Regina or “White Queen” is appropriate given the gorgeous and opulent aromatics of this wine- all tea leaves and jasmine, honeysuckle and lovely caramelized apricots. On the plate it is unabashedly saline, and vertical with acidity and a balanced and softly tannic structure, thanks to a 4-day maceration on the skins before pressing.
I was so excited to meet Massimo Fubelli and Chef Fabrizio Giorgi of Mosto Enoteca the other day at their lovely restaurant in Venice, California. I spent over a year living in Bologna, where one of my staple lunch or dinner items was the local iteration of Romagna’s sandwich: the piadina. Chef Fabrizio, being a local from Rimini, understands the art of this perfect little hand-held meal.
The warm, griddled flatbread was spread with a fresh, runny mozzarella- so fresh I thought it might be stracchino- then dotted with spicy arugula and draped with prosciutto. Done. Basta. The perfect example of fast, healthy, regional Italian cuisine. The key to simple dishes like the piadina is perfect balance between restraint and super high quality. Not too much of each ingredient allows every flavor and texture to shine through against that soft, warm slightly-chewy give of the piadina element itself.
Now these Mosto Enoteca just needs a real authentic glass of regional wine to go with that perfect sandwich.
Unquestionably, my favorite part about my job is meeting all kinds of people, usually people who are irrationally and irrevocably passionate about food, wine and spirits. There is a natural communion between people who like to feed each other- people who revel in the various and beautiful expressions of flavor sensations. The day I walked into Feed in Venice Beach I knew there would be no shortage of such sensitive souls- this place is a sanctuary for foodies. I felt like coming home. Continue reading →
The other day I visited the ladies of Culver City’s newly-minted Bar and Garden. Recently Lauren Johnson and Marissa Mandel rehabilitated an antique liquor store, and have turned it into a beautiful, airy, sunlight-filled space. Their selection of natural wines and small-batch spirits is pretty much unparalleled, and the whole operation is overseen by a quiet and affectionate pooch named Banjo. Now that’s what I call a great neighborhood shop!
Banjo, lovable mascot of @BarAndGarden. Clearly the camera loves him.
Found this baby at Monopole Winein Pasadena yesterday while running around with my fellow-wine geek Peter Kao. 1979 is his birth year, so clearly we had to taste it. I haven’t had a ton of experience with old California wines, but recently Italian Wine Superstar and International Top Sommelier Diego Meraviglia was telling me one of his favorite guilty pleasures are Duckhorn wines form the 1990s… I am officially curious now about the potential of California terroir to age gracefully.
Peter Kao- completely unhinged over Jordan 1979 Cabernet. @ChairmanKao
The 1979 Jordan was simply brilliant. Radiant. Stunning. Initially a little tight and redolent with green peppers and chocolate (nice call, Peter), it flowered open to reveal an earthy-dusty-ripeness that was backed on the palate by an elegant acidity and completely polished tannins. Like holding a piece of beach glass on your tongue- this was smooth. The wine continued to open without falling apart over the next few hours- even after bouncing around in my car, the final sip at home last night was still exciting.
Jordan 1979. Enough to convert even the most stalwart of Italian wine geeks!
There are very few wines indigenous to the region of Lazio, and even fewer from the area close to Roma. That’s what makes the Cesanesegrape so very special. It’s unique, it’s esoteric, and it makes a seriously delicious wine in hands of capable and passionate winemaker like Damiano Ciolli.
His straight-forward Cesanese “Silene”is matured in large, neutral barrels. The wood does much less to flavor the wine than it does to simply help the exchange of oxygen during maturation. It’s a decidedly savory wine with notes of wild sage, wet earth and blackberry. Deep and rich- this wine is a shining example of the potential of Lazio’s wine making terroir.
I will be visiting this estate in person soon- can’t wait to see the vineyards in person and to revisit the wines closer to their birthplace. Damiano Ciollihimself is a sweet, jovial, handsome young winemaker, with a tendency to speak in rapid-fire, heavily-accented Italian. I am already equally as excited to see him again as I am terrified of attempting to translate for him. A presto, Damiano. Bravo!