Christmas Six-Pack $107 ($18 bottle average)

Above: The first vineyard that Georgia P — our older daughter — ever visited was one of Bele Casel’s top growing sites for their stunning Prosecco Colfòndo. That photo was taken in September 2012. Click here to see a video, made with a little help from my friends, of my most recent visit to the winery.

DO BIANCHI CHRISTMAS SIX-PACK
$107
plus tax shipping & handling

$18 AVERAGE BOTTLE PRICE

Bele Casel N[on] V[intage] Prosecco Asolo Superiore Colfòndo (2 bottles)
Vignalta 2011 Moscato del Veneto Sirio
Tenuta Sant’Antonio 2011 Corvina Scaia
Selvapiana 2010 Chianti Rufina
Vietti NV 2012 Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta

Unfortunately, delivery is not available for this offer.
Wines will ship on Monday, December 9.

Please send me an email to order.

Bele Casel N[on] V[intage] Prosecco Asolo Superiore Colfòndo
gently sparkling, savory white 2 BOTTLES

I’m proud to say that I played a small role in getting this wine to the U.S. I’ve been a big fan of my friend and client Luca Ferraro’s salty, crunchy Colfòndo — old school unfiltered and undisgorged Prosecco — for some time. And after much nagging, I finally convinced him to insist that his importer bring it in. Today, it’s the toast of the town in San Francisco where Italian wine maven Ceri Smith and biodynamic pioneer Randall Grahm are pouring it by the glass at the city’s hottest new restaurant, Tosca. I can’t get enough of this groovy stuff. Luca is an organic grower and this wholesome wine is what we’ll be drinking at our Christmas.

Vignalta Moscato del Veneto 2011 Sirio
dry white

I’ll never forget the first time I tasted this wine: having learned of my experience in Padua, Italy (where I attended university) and my obsession with the fourteenth-century poet Petrarch (the subject of my doctoral thesis), Darrell Corti — one of the world’s greatest experts on Italian wine, among other gastronomic subjects — insisted that we drink this crisp, dry focused expression of Moscato from the Euganean Hills where Petrarch spent his last years collating his songbook. I love everything about this wine: it’s fresh and acidity-driven and a great accompaniment for the roast ham and roast turkey of Christmas time.

Tenuta Sant’Antonio Corvina 2011 Scaia
fresh, light, fruit-driven red

Tenuta Sant’Antonio from Valpolicella has been a favorite of mine ever since I first started following the winery back in NYC in the late 1990s. When the winemakers poured me this lovely, fresh wine at Vinitaly this year, I was skeptical: I’m not a fan of the monovarietal mania (i.e., a predisposition for single-grape wines) that has captivated so many Italian lovers in recent years. But this wine really thrilled me with its food-friendliness and its earnestness. A gorgeous expression of the primary grape in Valpolicella and Amarone.

selvapiana best sangiovese chianti

Selvapiana 2010 Chianti Rufina
rich, dry red wine

To know me is to know that I love Sangiovese, the quintessential Italian red grape, most famously grown in Tuscany. It’s so hard to find an honest Chianti this day but this one is old-school all-the-way. And it comes from what is, in my opinion, the greatest subzone for the appellation. Your ears literally pop as you drive up the village of Rufina in the northern section of the DOC and the high elevation gives this wine the electric vibrancy that sets great Sangiovese apart from the K-Mart version. It’s one of my perennial favorites.

Vietti NV 2012 Moscato d’Asti Cascinetta
sweet, very low alcohol, gently sparkling white

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Moscato d’Asti. At this time of year, we always keep a bottle in the fridge. It’s so low in alcohol that we might even open it for Sunday brunch! And it’s always great to have around when friends drop by and we want something simple and accessible to toast the season. Top Barolo estate Vietti is one of the appellation’s classic producers and delivers this one in a traditional style (not overly fruity). And hey, if you don’t drink it yourself, give it as a gift to someone you love.

*****

In Parzen family news, little Lila Jane has already started with her music lessons (see below). Happy Holidays, everyone! And thanks for all your support in 2013!

ukulele

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Thanksgiving Six-Pack 2013 $125 ($21 average bottle price)

TASTE WITH ME FRIDAY NOV. 1 AT SOTTO IN LA
AND SATURDAY NOV. 2 AT JAYNES IN SAN DIEGO.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

Above: The pièce de résistance in my Thanksgiving Six-Pack 2013 is “mountain Nebbiolo” from Carema in northern Piedmont where growers still use pergola-trained vineyards. Here’s the post on my 2011 visit there.

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is nearly here. And it’s so true what people say: when you have kids, it seems that time passes so swiftly (family update follows the wine info below).

Here’s my Thanksgiving Six-Pack 2013 offering. As with all my six-packs, the focus is on food friendliness: low alcohol and high acidity, freshness and balance. And as always, it’s designed to follow the progression of the meal, moving from light and easy to heavier body and more nuance and depth.

I’ve included two bottles of the Zanotto Col Fondo: the alcohol is so low in this (at around 11%) and the wine is so tasty that one bottle (for a party of six) is never enough and it’s also such a great wine to drink throughout any meal.

Do Bianchi Thanksgiving Six-Pack 2013
$125

plus tax, shipping & handling
($21 average bottle price)

I regret that I won’t be able to deliver any of the wines this time around. So all orders will be shipped from San Diego on Monday, November 4.

TO ORDER, PLEASE SEND ME AN EMAIL BY CLICKING HERE.

For San Diego residents who wish to pick up the wines, you can come meet me at Jaynes Gastropub where I’ll be pouring my friend Paolo Cantele’s wines from 4-6 p.m., Saturday, November 2.

Zanotto NV Col Fondo (2 bottles)
sparkling white

This is the way Prosecco was made before the Prosecco boom of the 1990s: it’s lees-aged, unfiltered, salty and crunchy, with gentle citrus and white fruit. Gently sparkling, it’s simply one Tracie P and me’s favorite wines and you’ll always find a bottle in our fridge. Here’s the thread of the many posts I’ve written about it.

Struzziero 2011 Greco di Tufo Villa Giulia
still white

This crisp, mineral-driven expression of Greco from the mountains above Naples has been a huge hit at Sotto in Los Angeles where I co-author the wine list. White stone fruit and rocks, elegant and focused.

Caprari NV Lambrusco Secco Colcer
sparkling red

Why genuine Lambrusco like this is not more popular in the U.S., I’ll never understand. Well, actually, I do understand: mass-marketed Lambrusco sullied perceptions of these wonderfully food-friendly, low-alcohol wines in the 1970s. Although I love all the wines in this flight, this is my number-one pick for the Thanksgiving meal because of its versatility at the dinner table. It will pair well with everything from sour cranberry sauce to turkey and rich gravy.

Cascina Corte 2010 Dolcetto di Dogliani Classico
still red

Cascina Corte was making Natural Dolcetto (my mom’s favorite grape, btw) long before Natural wine was hip. I first tasted with them back in the early 2000s and have remained a loyal fan of these gorgeous, approachable expressions of the ultimate winter-food wine from Piedmont. A bench mark for the appellation and the grape variety (imho).

Produttori di Carema 2009 Carema
still red

I visited Carema for the first time in 2011 but I’ve collected the wines for many, many years now and I’ve always been blown away by the value for the quality of this classic, traditional expressions of Nebbiolo. This tiny appellation, which is still farmed using pergola-training, delivers wonderful freshness and dark red fruit set against rich tannins. I simply love, love, love these wines. Click here to read about the vertical tasting the consortium organized for me and some colleagues a few years ago. Stunning, entirely original expressions of the world’s greatest grape (yes, I just said that): Nebbiolo!

In other news…

lila jane baby

Lila Jane turned three months old this week and she’s doing great. She’s so sweet and she smiles and laughs all the time. And she loves being Georgia P’s little sister.

Here’s Tracie P’s three-month letter to her.

Georgia P is also doing great and she’s really grown into her role as a big sister. She didn’t like it at first but now she shares her snacks with Lila Jane (although Lila Jane doesn’t really eat the snacks) and tells her that she loves her and kisses her goodnight before bed.

That’s Georgia P above at one of our favorite restaurants in Austin, Qui. She is such a joy and we have so much fun together.

Of all the great experiences of my life, none has been more rich than being a dad. It took me a little while to get here but I’m so glad that I did. I know now that this was what I was meant to do in life… They fill my heart and soul with so much joy and Tracie P is the greatest mother in the world…

Thanks for reading and happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

If you’re in Southern California next weekend, please come see me and my buddy Paolo Cantele at Sotto in LA on Friday Nov. 1 and Jaynes in San Diego on Saturday Nov. 2!

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HOLIDAY Six-Pack is here!

best prosecco ever

Above: The Zanotto estate in Proseccoland is one of the most magical vineyards I’ve ever visited. Just look at the quality of the fruit. Beautiful, no? Tracie P took this photo in September 2012.

HOLIDAY SIX-PACK 2012

Zanotto 2011 (Prosecco) Col Fondo (sparkling white, TWO BOTTLES)
Struzziero 2010 Greco di Tufo Villagiulia (still white)
Ugolino 2011 Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi (still white)
Cascina Corte 2010 Dolcetto di Dogliani (still red)
Balgera 2005 Valtellina Superiore (still red)

$150 $110 plus tax, handling, and shipping

AVERAGE BOTTLE PRICE IS $18.

To order, just send me an email by clicking here.

I will be shipping from San Diego on Monday, December 10, and I will be delivering to San Diego residents on Tuesday, December 11.

This year’s Holiday Six-Pack has two bottles of Zanotto Col Fondo: one is for you to open for Christmas and the other is for New Year’s Eve. After all, what celebration is complete without some sparkling wine from the Veneto (and one of our favorite wines for 2012)?

PLEASE NOTE: I do have extra Zanotto Col Fondo if you want/need it (if you don’t, we’ll just drink it ourselves!).

best sparkling wine ever

When Tracie P, Georgia P, and I visited the Zanotto property in the province of Treviso in September of this year, we weren’t surprised by how beautiful it was. It’s as if the extreme freshness and pure minerality and fruit of this wine were an expression of the magic of the place.

At one of the highest altitude sites in the Prosecco appellation, there’s little sign of modernity along the winding road that leads to the vineyards.

The air is fresh, clean, and peaceful, and the meticulously manicured fruit (see the photo above) just seems to thrive there naturally.

Riccardo Zanotto’s uncle used to sell his grapes to top bottlers, including some of the most prestigious names in the world of Prosecco. A few years ago, Riccardo managed to convince him to set aside some of the fruit to be vinified in the old-school Col Fondo style: double-fermented in bottle and aged on its lees.

The resulting wine is has become one of our favorites: we like it so much, that I convinced a Los Angeles-based importer to bring it to the United States earlier this year.

Today, you can drink Zanotto Col Fondo by the glass at high-profile restaurants like Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. There is a reason for this: the wine is utterly refreshing and delicious, low in alcohol (around 11%), and driven by pure mineral and white fruit flavors and aromas. We simply love it.

PLEASE NOTE: I do have extra Zanotto Col Fondo if you want/need it (if you don’t, we’ll just drink it ourselves!).

HOLIDAY SIX-PACK 2012

Zanotto 2011 (Prosecco) Col Fondo (sparkling white, TWO BOTTLES)

See my notes above. You can see technical notes on the wine here. And you can find all my notes, including how Zanotto came into our lives, here.

Struzziero 2010 Greco di Tufo Villagiulia (still white)

Struzziero in Taurasi was another big discover for me this year. We’ve been serving their high-end Taurasi in a vertical at Sotto in Los Angeles and I finally got to taste through the whole family of wines at Vinitaly this year. Great, traditional wines, like this wonderful Greco di Tufo.

Ugolino 2011 Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi (still white)

Tracie P, Georgia P, and I also went to Castelli di Jesi for the first time this year. This delightful expression of Verdicchio is dominated by mineral notes and acidity. And I love the judicious alcohol here. A super-food-friendly white wine.

Cascina Corte 2010 Dolcetto di Dogliani (still red)

I was thrilled to rediscover this biodynamic producer of Dolcetto di Dogliani by Cascina Corte. I used to sell the wine many years ago in New York: it’s my favorite wine from my favorite appellation for Dolcetto. Brilliant fruit balanced by earthiness and the wonderful mouthfeel that is unique to traditional style Dolcetto. This is definitely a main course wine.

Balgera 2005 Valtellina Superiore (still red)

My holidays are not complete without some aged Nebbiolo. I actually included this in the Thanksgiving six-pack. It’s just drinking too well to not include here. This is my wine for nibbling aged cheeses and roasted nuts after dinner.

$150 $110 plus tax, handling, and shipping

AVERAGE BOTTLE PRICE IS $18.

To order, just send me an email by clicking here.

PLEASE NOTE: I do have extra Zanotto Col Fondo if you want/need it (if you don’t, we’ll just drink it ourselves!).

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Thanksgiving Six-Pack is here!

Above: My number one pick for Thanksgiving this year is the Laimburg Lagrein, one of two reds in the Do Bianchi Thanksgiving 2012 Six-Pack.

Do Bianchi Thanksgiving 2012 Six-Pack

Zanotto 2011 Col Fondo
Laimburg 2010 Riesling
Frank Cornelissen NV Contadino #9
Dettori 2007 Romangia Bianco
Laimburg 2009 Lagrein
Balgera 2005 Valtellina Superiore Inferno

$150 plus tax, handling, and shipping

I will be shipping from San Diego on Monday, November 12, and I will be delivering to San Diego residents on Tuesday, November 13.

Like many of my six-packs, the Thanksgiving offering is a “meal”: a sparkling wine to start off, a white and a rosé for the first courses, and then a tannic white and two reds for the main event. See descriptions of the wines below.

To order, just send me an email by clicking here.

Above: That Riccardo Zanotto (left), Georgia P and me, and Giovanni Arcari visiting Riccardo’s vineyards in September just before harvest.

Zanotto 2011 Col Fondo

The Zanotto Prosecco Colfondo has been one of the most exciting wines of 2012 for us, in part because we had a hand in convincing an importer to bring it to the United States. It’s simply one of our all-time favorite wines: fresh, bright, salty, crunchy, classic Glera (Prosecco) made the way Prosecco used to be made, double-fermented in bottle and undisgorged. PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE EXTRA ZANOTTO IF YOU NEED IT FOR YOUR HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING.

Laimburg 2010 Riesling

I only discovered the Laimburg winery recently. It’s 2009 Lagrein is my number-one wine for Thanksgiving this year (see below) and the Riesling is equally stunning. Freshness and elegant balance are what makes this Riesling stand apart from other whites by other producers.

Above: We’ll be hosting a dinner for Frank Cornelissen and his controversial wine this Sunday (Nov. 11) at Sotto in Los Angeles.

Frank Cornelissen NV Contadino #9

No wine gets a stronger reaction than Frank Cornelissen’s radically Natural bottlings — whether you love them or hate them. Many, including Lou Amdur and Alice Feiring, consider him to be perhaps the world’s most (literally) radical winemaker today. This wine — the contandino or “farmer’s [wine]” — is a blend of red and white grapes, a rosé with just enough tannin to work well with the fattiness of Thanksgiving fare.

Dettori 2007 Romangia Bianco

If you could peek into my wine locker in San Diego, you’d see that my collection is primarily Nebbiolo from Langa… and Dettori Romangia Bianco. We love these wines and collect them religiously. Even though it’s made from Vermentino (white) grapes, it drinks more like a red wine on my palate because of its tannic power.

Above: Just look at the beautiful color of that wine (and see above)!

Laimburg 2009 Lagrein

I tasted Laimburg for the first time this year and was blown away by how fresh, juicy, and bright it was. Lagrein can often be too light in my experience and it can also be too weighty. The focus and precision of this expression of the classic German-speaking grape is right on. And it has just enough tannin to work with the turkey, dark meat or white.

Balgera 2005 Valtellina Superiore Inferno

Of all the Valtellina available in the U.S., Balgera is my favorite and it’s one of my top food-friendly expressions of Nebbiolo (a better wine for the variety of Thanksgiving than say, Barolo or Carema, wines I equally love but prefer to serve with braised beef or aged cheese).

To order, just send me an email by clicking here.

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Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo is in the building!

I’m thrilled to announce that Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo is finally here.

About 50 cases made it to California a few weeks ago and the wine is now resting in the distributor’s warehouse.

This is Prosecco the way I used to know it when I lived, studied, and played music in the Veneto in the 1990s: bottle fermented, lees aged, and unfiltered. In other words, OLD SCHOOL: salty and driven by acidity and citrus and biscuit notes. If you drank Prosecco before the boom of commercial, yeasted, Prosecco that was fermented exclusively in large vats, you’ll recognize this wine. I love it.

Very limited availability.

Three-Packs for $60.
Six-Packs for $108.

plus tax, shipping, and handling

I’ll be able to deliver to San Diego customers a week from Monday and the following Monday.

For shipments, I’m going to wait until the first week of October to avoid heat damage but will hold the wines for you in my warehouse in San Diego.

Please send me an email to order by clicking here.

Zanotto Prosecco Col Fondo

This wine is a 100% Glera, produced by Zanotto family in the area of Tarzo (Veneto, north-east of Italy).

Their vineyards are located at 370 meters above sea level.

Natural, unfiltered, refermented in bottle, this special wine sound very yeasty and plenty of taste, nothing to compare to most of the sparkling that we have around this is the real essence of what was the sparkling wine made on the old fashion way before pressurized autoclave were introduced in the production process.

RE-FERMENTED ONCE A YEAR ONLY.
NO AUTOCLAVE FERMENTATION.
NO ADDED SULFUR.

Grape type: 100% Glera.
Alcohol content: 11%
Vinification system: Charmat 1st fermentation. 2nd fermentation on lees in the bottle.

Wine making process: Handpicked grapes in late september, following the “Growing Moon” calendar. During the first fermentation the wine juice must is left in contact with the grape skins for 2 days. The separation is then made by decanting the wine, that will bestored into refrigerated tanks , to stop the fermentation. Close to Easter, following the “Growing Moon” calendar, the wine is then bottled with no added sulfite to process the second fermentation in the bottle. The wine is not filtered, and it ferments in the bottle, being completely mature around September. This method, thanks to the yeasts that stays and deposit at the bottom of the bottle (from here the name “col fondo” literally “with sediment”) allows this wine to preserve for years.

Tasting Notes

Colour: Straw-yellow, greenish reflections.
Bouquet: Great bisquity nose, with plenty of apple/brioche coming through, flowery end and citrusy notes.
Taste: Dry palate, complex and pleasant. Slightly salty finish and very mineral.

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2007 Produttori del Barbaresco (classic) Barbaresco! IT’S HERE!

I am really excited about this month’s offering — the first of 2012. It includes two of our favorite wines — Produttori del Barbaresco classic Barbaresco and Cogno Nascetta — a red and a white that form the cornerstore of our personal cellar in terms of their affordability, drinkability, and collectibility… I am also currently working on my allocation of Produttori del Barbaresco vineyard-designated wines and should have a few cases of Asili, Rabajà, and Montestefano by April.

Super (Affordable) Collectible Piedmont

3 bottles Cogno 2010 Anas-cëtta (white wine from the Nascetta grape)
3 bottles Produttori del Barbaresco 2007 Barbaresco
$194 (average bottle price: $32.38)

not including tax, shipping, and handling
wines will ship Monday Feb. 13

However bizarre the 2007 vintage in Langa, everything I’ve tasted so far from Barbaresco and Barolo has been simply sensational. Here’s what one of my favorite wine writers, Antonio Galloni, had to say about this strange but glorious (imho) vintage:

    The year started off with an unusually warm and dry winter, with virtually no precipitation. Flowers and plants went into bloom nearly a full month early. Growers had never seen conditions such as these. The summer was warm, but evenly so, without noticeable heat spikes. Towards the end of the growing season nighttime temperatures lowered, slowing down the maturation of the grapes, and allowing for the development of the perfume that is such an essential component of fine Nebbiolo. The harvest was earlier than normal, but the growing season started so early in the year that the actual length of the vegetative cycle was actually close to normal if not longer than normal by a few days.

At first kiss, the 2007 classic (as opposed to vineyard-designated) Barbaresco by Produttori del Barbaresco was very generous with its fruit. Arguably the most elegant bottling I’ve ever tasted from the winery that forms the centerpiece of our wine collection, the wine showed stunning balance before quickly closing up, with the muscular tannin dominating the wine in my glass for the rest of the evening (I’ve saved the great part of the wine in the bottle and will revisit it tonight and tomorrow night). If ever there were an expression of Barbaresco “Barolo-esque” in its power, this would be it: there was a delicate menthol note in the mouth that reminded us of some of our favorite “east-side,” “Helvetian” growers.

When we visited the Cogno winery back in 2010, the whole Barbera 7 blogger team was thrilled by the 2001 Nascetta that winemaker Valter Fissore (above) poured for us (the name of this white grape is Nascetta; here’s the story about why Valter calls it Anas-cëtta).

I am always looking for white wines that I can (afford to buy and) age in my cellar (Assyrtiko, anyone?) and from the moment I tasted that nine-year-old bottling, I knew that I was going to begin collecting these wines.

I restated the 2010 Cogno Nascetta in January in Houston and found it even brighter and more mineral driven than the 2009. I love these wines and the only problem is that they are so savory, fresh, and elegant that I have a hard time not drinking them!

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Christmas Letter 2011

So many great things happened for Tracie P and me in 2011 but they are all eclipsed by the miracle of Georgia Ann Parzen, who arrived on Monday, December 12.

Around 3 a.m. this morning, as Tracie P and I cleaned the soiled linen in the bassinet and changed another dirty diaper, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the prayer that Jews say after going to the bathroom: Asher Yatzar ([Blessed Are You] Who Has Formed [Humankind]).

Blessed are You, HaShem, Our G-d, King of the universe, Who created the human with wisdom and created within him many openings and many cavities, exposed and known before Your Throne of Glory, that if one of them were to be ruptured or one of them were to be blocked it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You for even one hour. Blessed are You, HaShem, The physician of all flesh who acts wondrously.

Over the course of the year, Tracie P and I have been blessed with many miracles: the miracle of Georgia’s conception, the miracle of our healthy pregnancy, the miracle of Georgia’s delivery, and the miracle of our family, who supports us with their love and devotion.

This morning at 3 a.m., we paused again to reflect on the miracle of a dirty diaper and the health of our baby girl.

On this Christmas 2011, I’m happy to report my business has continued to expand and Tracie P’s been loving her new position selling fine wines. I launched a new wine column for the Houston Press and my band released a new record. My first wine list was well received in Los Angeles and I was invited to speak on Italian wine and wine writing at a number of conferences held this year in the U.S. and Italy. I’ll never forget my first Cretan sunrise on the day of the first European austerity vote, nor the Venetian sunshine on Tracie P’s face on a bright winter’s day on the Grand Canal.

This year’s blessings are too many to count and not a day goes by that I don’t look in the mirror without remembering the long and often challenging road that delivered me to this special moment in our lives.

And so, on this early December morning, as Georgia and Tracie P slumber, and I can hear the first birds begin to chirp with the Texas dawn, I’ll say a prayer for a dirty diaper and I’ll thank my lucky stars that it turned out so right for strangers in the night.

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