The Best of 2011
"Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge." (Cicero)
There are a few significant moments in 2011 that I never had the time to share.
Piedmont was a monumental trip. I never understood Barolo or Barbaresco before it. Somehow, driving northwest from Tuscany, gazing at the cliff sides of Liguria and entering Alba after sunset with only headlights illuminating our way from vineyard site to vineyard site like Neive to Treiso, opened a doorway of perception that did not exist before.
The history of Gaja and the family's influence in Piedmont is what impressed me the most. The cantina located below ground in Barbaresco seemed to encompass almost the whole territory. You can feel the impact of its eminence specifically in this town. I was not allowed to take photos inside the cantina, one of the reasons I did not post a larger piece on this vineyard, but I must say, Massy and I were very impressed when we descended into the cantina and witnessed an amass of large old barrels instead of a slew of new French Oak which we were honestly expecting to see.
|Tree (upper left) from the property of Hilberg-Pasquero, 1989 Produttori del Barbaresco Pora (upper right) and 1991 Cappellano Barolo (bottom left) both at Ristorante Rabaya, phenomenal cheese cart in Priocca at Ristorante Il Centro (bottom right)|
Massy and I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in the middle of vineyards inside Barbaresco right next to Rabaya, an amazing vineyard site in Barbaresco. Two nights out of the four we dined at Ristorante Rabaya. We were perhaps the only ones there both times, it was the off season in March, but we didn't mind, we were spank in the middle of Barbaresco. It was not glorious, or opulent. The air was brisk, the old vines medieval, uncanny silence fogged and you walked through night as if passing through a maze of hanging bed sheets, but it was magical as if the nebbiolo grape had stock in heaven and stars were angels blowing kisses to earth. Barbaresco can do this to you, and this was where I fell in love with traditional style Barolo and Barbaresco.
Rome. To walk through a city with mammoth sized sexy Roman men with amazing bodies is always a pleasure.
Gianni Brunelli, Montalcino, Tuscany
One of the most beautiful vineyards I've visited is that of Laura Brunelli in Montalcino. I don't want to get into it about organic versus biodynamic etc, but if you ever want to truly experience "synergy" take a walk through her property. From olive tree to vine, from grass to flower, from sun to wind, from dog to bee, every element participated in a harmony that Laura smiled upon as the proud guardian of such wizardry.
Central Park, NYC
Last winter we had more snow in NYC than I can remember for years. This picture of Massimiliano is one of my best shots from 2011.
Manducati's -- I'm sorry for blogging about this restaurant because most of us want to keep it as a secret. We like to walk in and feel like we are entering through a portal into the past (price and ambiance). I wrote this to a friend describing the restaurant: "Located in Long Island City Queens with a retarded wine list of affordable old vintages and an illustrious and coveted off the list cellar containing French lables that one knows only by rumor and whisper. . . If you like that kind of thing." Massy and I love . . . .
"Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature." Cicero. (I have a new obsession for Cicero)
I'm so happy that Massy has started to learn how to use a camera with an artistic eye. When we go on journeys we take the machine and walk around and just play, interacting with our environment, entering this bubble where our imaginations reign and we are free to be anything and everything we want.
La Famiglia, Monteroni d'Arbia, Tuscany
Anguria, a.k.a watermelon, at home in the middle of the summer with family. These are moments you want to capture and eat, just like a watermelon.
I must say thank you to Massy's family for many many great moments together, specifically an amazing lunch an hour drive from home, a walk through a castle, and the energy of everyone all together.
Napoli, Campania, Italy
My last trip to Italy included a short stay in Napoli and Capri. My goal whenever I visit a new region in a wine country is to drink the local wine and pretty much nothing else. This way I can capture what the area really has to offer. I must admit that whites from Campania are some of my favorite white wines from Italy. I had a Coda di Volpe by Struzziero that delighted me to the bone, a bottle that Massy and I polished off in maybe a half hour. Another noteworthy surprise was a simple biancolella by Casa d'Ambra. Just the experience alone of going around and ordering cheap white wine that goes perfect with unbelievable fresh seafood from the Tyrrhenian Sea is remarkable. . . I can't imagine having this available 24/7.
Black ink on paper, NYC