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 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 →
I love this photo because it encapsulates what is so great about the wine industry. When wine people get together, horizontal tastings like this are inevitable. At a post-Vinitaly dinner we tasted these three wines together with the good people of Cantina Bolzano: a sure sign you’re dealing with a first-class winery when they are happy to match their wines up against some of the best in the world! Continue reading →
I visited Cantina Bolzanoin Alto Adige last week with the team from AI Selections for the first time. It was clear that Spring was just beginning to stretch and yawn. We arrived in that perfect moment where Winter has almost released its cold, bony grasp. The cusp of change- the very tipping point before a full-blown explosion into bloom. The vineyards at Cantina Bolzano are the perfect place to see it all happen, in high-definition. Continue reading →
Post-tasting glow with Pier Busso and Ronnie Grant.
If you’re anywhere near the Italian wine industry you can’t escape the yearly tidal wave of Vinitaly. This annual trade show is, in the words of my colleague Michael Whidden, “airplane hangars filled with the world’s most incredible Italian wine bars”.
I’m in Verona for the Vinitaly trade show, but on Saturday we planned a trip to one of the show’s “Anti-Vinitaly” demonstrations. These events are smaller, more targeted gatherings held adjacently to the big she-bang. I love discovering new wineries and tasting new wines at these events. At Vini Veri we found one stand-out at the Maria Pia Castellibooth- a crystal-clear, bright yellow (almost orange?) wine made from the Marche’s indigenous grapes like Trebbiano, Malvasia and Pecorino. The wine is called Stella Flora- an accurate description meaning something like “floral star”. The wine smelled like fresh jasmine flowers and green tea, and had an oily texture and a punctuated acidity. The fruit component was all over-ripe yellow plum and tangerines.
One shining star in the sea of beautiful vino Italiano.
Last night while staying at Opera 02, Mattia Montanari and Roberto Ballestrazzi took us over to nearby Le Vizzano, where we met Giorgio (The King), proprietor of a fantastic bar, L’Artista. The cocktails were fast and authentic, made with fresh ingredients and served with an enthusiastic smile.
A Good Barman is hard to find. A Great Barman can be your Hero.
This was the sign we spotted on the wall of Modena’s main market, a reminder of just how important Italy’s regional cultures are today. “Campanalismo” is the idea of a region or city’s attachment to local traditions, indigenous foods and wines, and regional dialects. This fierce defense of localized history is poetic- and it is the root of what makes Italy’s wines so diverse and its food culture so richly varied.
Take Modena for example. You cannot possibly imagine the perfection of pairing a local Lambrusco Grasparossa wine with a similarly traditional dish like Tortellini in Brodo, until you taste it. These dishes, these wines, have had hundreds of years and multiple generations of winemakers (and Italian mammas) to arrive at such transcendence. The food and the wine have developed together, around each other.
The mellow, savory hot broth delicately cushioning those toothsome bites of fresh pasta wrapped around shavings of parmigiano and ground prosciutto. When you follow this rich, deeply satisfying mouthful with a glug of sparkling, cold Lambrusco you can actually feel the two separate elements combining into something even more satisfying- and more authentic. The Lambrusco’s fresh minerality and bright, palate-cleansing acidity is tempered by the rich broth. Even the temperatures of the two components work together to create something that is truly beautiful and balanced.
Some things are considered “classic” for very good reasons.