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.


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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Thanksgiving offering

Piedmont Thanksgiving Six-Pack

Valli Unite 2010 Bianchino (Cortese)
Vajra 2010 Dolcetto d’Alba
Cavallotto 2008 Dolcetto d’Alba Vigna Scot
Giamello 2007 Barbaresco
Vajra 2006 Barolo Albe
Vajra 2009 Moscato d’Asti (375 ml)

A classic flight of 6 wines for Thanksgiving, arranged in order of body and structure. The Cortese is by Valli Unite, a commune of hippie natural winemakers. The Vajra Dolcetto is mama Judy’s favorite wine. the 2008 single-vineyard Dolcetto by Cavallotto is a richer and more powerfully mineral expression of the grape variety. It’s the ideal Thanksgiving wine, with bright acidity to pair with the wide variety of flavors of the holiday meal and just enough tannic structure to stand up to the dark meat of the turkey. The 2007 Giamello Barbaresco is one of my favorite expressions of Nebbiolo this year. The 06 Barolo will drink beautifully with a little aeration. And the 375ml Moscato is the perfect wine to have around the house when folks stop by and you want something easy, sweet, and low in alcohol. It’s our favorite Moscato d’Asti of all time. Each six-pack is intended for a party of 6 persons.

(average bottle price $23.46)


California Thanksgiving Six-Pack

Donkey & Goat 2010 Untended Chardonnay (3 bottles)
Donkey & Goat 2010 Alexander Valley Carignane (3 bottles)

If you dig Natural wine, this is the funky stuff for you. I was thrilled that I was able to obtain an allocation of Donkey & Goat. Their production is extremely small and wonderfully brilliant. The “untended” Chardonnay is from an abandoned vineyard that the couple have resuscitated. It’s been growing wild for 30 years, I’ve been told. Don’t get this six-pack if you’re afraid of acidity: it’s the winery’s signature and it’s what makes these wines so exciting and it’s what allows them to make them with minimal sulfuring. Great stuff.

(average bottle price $29.69)


Cirò 3-Pack

‘A Vita 2008 Cirò (100% Gaglioppo)

The ‘A Vita winery is a member of Italy’s most rigorous Natural wine association, VinNatur and the wines are grown and vinified chemical- and additive-free. However light in color, this is a tannic wine that will only get better every day that it’s open. I was thrilled when Tracie P and I first tasted this wine back in January and today it’s one of the best sellers on my list at Sotto in Los Angeles. Beautiful fruit, gorgeous pure tannin, and that lip-splitting acidity I’m always looking for. It’s my number-one wine for 2011..

(average bottle price $25)


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Update on the Summer Six-Pack Redux

(I know, I know… it’s not really news…)

In case you didn’t get a chance to see today’s post on our AMAZING dinner at Frasca in Boulder over the weekend, here it is. I really believe that Frasca is the best Italian restaurant in the U.S. today. There are many great Italian and Italianate dining destinations in our country. But at Frasca, truly great service, superb food, and a value-driven wine list really take this restaurant from A to A+ in my book. And for the record, I didn’t call my friends Bobby and Lachlan the owner to get a reservation: I just called like anyone else and was treated with extreme cordiality and genuine hospitality. At every step of the experience, Tracie P and noted how pleasant and warm the staff was. It’s the real deal… Click here for the photos and my post on our amazing dinner there.

In other news…

I am very excited to announce that I was able to obtain the Lettere for this month’s six-pack below! So instead of 2 bottles of Gragnano, the six-pack will include 1 bottle of Gragnano and 1 bottle of Lettere, Gragnano’s sister appellation. The wines are made from the same grapes Piedirosso, Sciascinoso, and Aglianico. The only difference is that Lettere (the name of the village) is grown farther inland and at a higher elevation. While the Gragnano is more grapey and more fruit driven, tending toward the sweet, the Lettere has more earth and is more minearl in nature. This is due to the fact that as you head up to the inland foothills of Campania, the soil because more and more volcanic in composition and thus more nutrient poor. I love both wines and it’s great to taste them side by side. (If someone prefers to receive 2 Gragnano or 2 Lettere, please just let me know.)

There are still a few six-packs left but they are going fast and I imagine I’ll run out with this e-blast. For more details on the six-pack and to order, please send me an email by clicking here. And here’s the original six pack post.

The 2007 Barbaresco by Silvio Giamello

I also have some 2007 Giamello Barbaresco available for $35 a bottle. If you like Produttori del Barbaresco, then you’ll recognize the style and the place of this wine: Giamello’s vineyards are at the northern tip of the Ovello cru of Barbaresco, where Produttori del Barbaresco sources the majority of its fruit for its classic blended Barbaresco. And as for Produttori del Barbaresco, Giamello had an incredible harvest in 2007. Aldo Vacca of the Produttori told me that 2007 might be the best vintage of Barbaresco during his time as export manager of the cooperative (and as soon as it hits the U.S. market, I’ll be doing an offering of the Produttori as well).

In 2007, Piedmont essentially had no winter. This accelerated the vegetative cycle and led to the fruit ripening early but – thanks to good weather throughout the year – ripening well. It is one of the most powerful expressions of Barbaresco I’ve ever tasted, more muscular and earthy than most recent vintages and reminiscent of 1989. I’m putting down as much as I can in my cellar and I’m offering the rest to the wine club. Just let me know if you want some and we’ll figure out how and when to get it to you.

For more details and to order, please send me an email by clicking here.

Mini Verticals of Struzziero Taurasi and Vallone Graticciaia

If you’re going to be in Los Angeles later this week, please stop by Sotto on W. Pico where I’ll be “pouring wine on the floor” Thurs.-Sat. nights. I’m really excited about mini verticals of Struzziero Taurasi (93, 97, 01) and Vallone Graticciaia (05, 06) that we’ll be featuring as flights. I posted about the Struzziero here and will post about the Vallone later this week. It’s been a blast to curate Sotto’s wine list and the response has been one of the most rewarding chapters of my career in wine. And I LOVE working the floor, pouring wine and talking to folks about the wines on our list. The wines in these flights are amazing and as far as I know, we’re the only restaurant in town to offer them as mini verticals.


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Summer Six-Pack

Elvio Tintero NV Bianco Secco Grangia
(white, gently sparkling)
Ciù Ciù 2010 Pecorino Le Merlettaie
(white, still)
Cantine Federiciane 2010 Penisola Sorrentina Gragnano
(red, gently sparkling)

2 bottles each

$90 for six bottles ($15 average bottle price)


Wines will ship on Monday, July 25. Free delivery for San Diego customers.

I cannot begin to convey how excited I am about this six-pack offering. Ever since Tracie P and I first tasted a bottling by Cantine Federciana a few years ago in New York, I’ve been lobbying to get these amazing and amazingly affordable wines here in Texas.

And I am here to tell you people: THAT DAY HAS HAPPILY ARRIVED!

There’s no one in my world who knows more about Gragnano than Tracie P. Here’s what she has to say about this low-alcohol, gently-sparkling, grapey, refreshing, and lip-smackingly delicious blend of Sciascinoso and Piedirosso grapes grown in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius — the ONLY wine that the Neapolitans drink with pizza.

    I dare you not to like Gragnano (and its sister Lettere). Born in the Sorrentine peninsula, this is an irresistibly spritzy wine made to go with pizza, panuozzi, and all things warm and gooey. Like the self-deprecating comedian, the humility and spontaneity of this wine are its most endearing traits. Just say Sciascinoso and try not to smile.

Btw, Sciasinoso is pronounced SHAH-shee-NOH-zoh. Are you smiling yet?

A cousin to Emilia’s Lambrusco, Gragnano’s versatility makes it an ideal wine for food pairing (I paired it with grilled Mahi Mahi fish tacos last night at Bahia in La Jolla). And with its low alcohol content, bright acidity, gentle fizz, and refreshing fruit (red and wild berry), it is the PERFECT RED WINE FOR SUMMER. I LOVE THIS WINE, PEOPLE. There, I just said it again…

For the first of my Summer Six-Packs, I’ve also included one of our favorite white sparkling wines from Piedmont, the Grangia by Tintero. This blend of Cortese and Favorita (Vermentino) weighs in around 10% alcohol. It’s light and bright and it’s grown not far from the Ligurian coast: it’s one of my favorite pairings for smoked fish (think smoked mackerel from Ensenada) and for California-style sushi (think California roll).

The third wine in the six-pack is a wine considered by many to be the greatest expression of the Pecorino grape, grown in the Marches, in this case in the township of Offida. I tasted the Ciù Ciù (pronounced CHEW CHEW) for the first time earlier this year and was blown away by its gentle spice and ripe fruit flavors and its gorgeous acidity. There’s a lot of mediocre Pecorino going around these days. This is the real deal Pecorino. And it was amazing with the seafood cocktail at Bahia last night.

$90 for six bottles ($15 average bottle price)



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