Thursday, September 2, 2010

Friday Lineup: This Writer's Life

Carla Capalbo is a respected wine and food correspondent, commentator and photographer, and those of you read Decanter regularly probably recognize her byline on dispatches, especially from Italy. I've met up with her over the past year or so in Bordeaux and Greece and have come to enjoy her insights and to be amused by her camera unipod (a tripod minus two) that must give airport security fits when she shows up with it on her trips.

When we were together with other journalists in Macedonia in late June, Carla showed me her just-published book, Collio: Fine Wines and Foods from Italy's North-East, for which she did text and color photos. It is a beautiful book, whether you're reading page-by-page or just thumbing through for an overview. Collio is a lovely section of the world that produces some heavenly wines, especially whites, and Carla has done a great job of capturing the place, the people and the wines and food. It is published by Pallas Athene, and you won't have any problem finding it on the internet or ordering it though your local indie.

This is not her first wine and food book, and what makes Carla so good is that she takes the time to know a region, either camping out in it for weeks or visiting with frequency if she lives nearby.

Buy it, either for yourself or the wino who lives on the other side of your bed.


I frequently try to tell people that wine writing and the travel it entails - especially those long second-class flights to vineyards inconveniently planted on the other side of the Atlantic or the 12-hour days in the tasting room and at the dinner table with nothing to do except drink, eat, ask questions and take notes - can be pure hell. No one believes me. "Can I carry your bags?" they ask. "How to I get your job?" they plead.

While I was away traveling to Paso Robles on a wine assignment recently, my friend and colleague John Lowman clipped the cartoon above from The New Yorker and slow-mailed it to me so I would see it on my return.

Need I say anything else?

Wine of the Week

2001 Montecillo Rioja Gran Riserva ($25). Maria Martinez was one of the first women in Europe to break the for-men-only cellar-door barrier and open it to a flood of female winemakers, and her experience shows off in this wonderly sophisticated Tempranillo. For people who don't have the storage room or the patience to age their own wines, this is the way you used to be able to buy reds - fully mature when you opened the bottle and ready to drink without being tired or dried out. This nine-year old new release has rounded red fruit, mellow, well-integrated oak, just a touch of tannins and food-loving acidity. It will keep for more years, but why not drink it now? A steal at $25.

Wines of Interest

2009 Vina Costeira Ribeiro ($15). A tangy, refreshing white from Spain's left coast with medium body and lots of citrus and floral notes and a touch of brioche in the finish. Very nice blend of indigenous grapes with Treixadura (70%) leading the way. (Note: Ribeiro D.O. is not to be confused with Ribera del Duero.)

2008 Blackstone Winemaker Select California Merlot ($11). Ripe, rich fruit with moderate oak and a touch of creaminess in the end. A harmonious wine, simple and not complex.
2008 Un4seen California Red Wine ($11). When I unscrewed this and took the first taste, I was hit with the sweet fruitiness of the kind of wine I don't drink. But the second sip showed good structure and a surprisingly fine spicy, satisfying finish. I drank some and came back the next day to finish the bottle. That said, Un4seen is really a wine for people who like a sweeter, fruitier table companion, but don't want a cloying finish. If you're climbing up or going down that sweet to dry ladder, this could be your wine. A blend of Zin, Malbec, PV and Merlot.

Now Playing at a Newstand (or Computer Screen) Near You

My latest harvest of wine articles has some nice ones:

Drinks Business, the UK-based wine business publication, carries my case study of Michel Rolland's Mendoza wine collective, Clos de los Siete, in its August issue.

Drinks, the American consumer magazine, has my cover story on "Spain's Greatest Grape: The Many Faces of Tempranillo," in its fall issue.

And the August issue of Sommelier News, the online magazine at, features my piece on Sangiovese di Romagna, vying to become Italy's fourth great Sangiovese region.

Let me know if you would like to see a scanned copy of either the Clos de los Siete or Tempranillo articles.

Until next time...

Roger Morris

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