Analog Wines For the Digital Age

Friday, August 29, 2014

The new single cru Barolo from G.D. Vajra - RAVERA

"It’s a true joy to introduce you to our new single vineyard bottling, Barolo Ravera. Ravera is a superb cru. Located in the southwest quadrant of the Barolo zone, the vineyard runs north to south across Comune di Barolo and Novello. It sits to the west, at the same latitude of Bussia and Ginestra in Monforte d'Alba and Falletto in Serralunga d’Alba. The dominant soil type here is “Arenarie di Diano”: a mix of clay and sands, which is especially rich in iron. This translates into a very vibrant yet dense Barolo that promises a fabulous evolution over time.

Our beautiful block is shaped like an amphitheatre. We have been farming it since 2001 and produced Langhe Nebbiolo until 2008. In 2010, fate and nature smiled on us and we decided that this must be our debut vintage. Only 3,000 bottles will be released from this initial harvest.

Antonio Galloni of Vinous, rated Ravera as an “Outstanding” vineyard, which means, “Sites [that] often produce wines of true personality and class.” - G.D. Vajra

I tasted the wine at VinItaly this year and was blown away.  Maybe it was because it was new, maybe because it was Ravera, maybe because it was 2010 . . . I am not sure.  But for whatever reason, this wine tasted fantastic.

It will be arriving in October and I would like to see how it tastes then.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The passing of Robin Williams . . .

I knew R. Todd Williams (Dr. Toad), Robin Williams' older brother, from the wine business. He used to call on me when I was a buyer at a shop in the Napa Valley a long, long time ago, when he first started his brand Toad Hollow. He was a great story-teller and raconteur and I loved when he came to show his wines because he was just a great guy. We had a laugh and he knew that I was from Marin County and had run across his younger, and "less funny", (according to him), brother a bunch of times growing up. And now he has been dead for many years but is still in my "Rolodex" and since he shared a birthday with a dear departed friend of mine they will forever be linked in my mind and in my heart and I am reminded of him every June 14th when their birthdays roll around.

We all seem to have great stories about Robin Williams, mostly involving his hijacking of people's conversations while on the payphones (remember those?) in the square in Mill Valley (whether we were actually there when the story happened or not is besides the point) and especially enjoyed his stand-up comedy specials on HBO, my favorite being the one from 1982, An Evening with Robin Williams, that was shot at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. My 15 year-old friends and I used to watch the video on VHS over and over and over at Todd Roberts' house ( Trevor Davis, Leah Glynn, Liz Carnevale, Brett Smith and who else?) and we could quote bits verbatim for years. My cheeks actually hurt from laughing so hard and I could barely catch my breath.

The last time my cheeks hurt that much from laughing and smiling was in 2002 when I saw him live at Bimbo's as he was trying out material for what would become the Weapons of Self-Destruction tour. It was epic and one of the best live shows I have ever seen.

I did not know Robin Williams as a person separate from his stardom but he has been a part of my life for over 30 years. Whether hearing about him from his dear brother, or watching him on television (in an effort to not swear around the kids, I have taken to saying "Shazbat!" about ten times a day) or in the movies, or live on stage.

He has taught me so much. He comedy informed me socially and politically and was a guide for my teenage years and beyond. If someone were to draw a line in the sand in front of him, he would barely notice it as he leaped over it into overshareland . . . and it was okay. The world didn't end. And I will never forget that. He made it okay to admit your weaknesses and to know that nothing is so bad that it can't be made fun of and made absurd and thus harmless.

He made me laugh so much . . . at him, at the world, at myself. I will miss him.

Lunch with Francesca Vaira at Terroni DTLA . . . best lunch ever!

Francesca Vaira  2010 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library  2006 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library 2014 Luigi Ba...