quinta-feira, 7 de abril de 2011

Real Wine Tour d'Amérique, del 2011, cap 1 - Los Angeles, California

As you may know, there is a debate, an interest, well a love it or hate it, about natural wine.
If you're not aware just have to, as usual, gugle for it (do not feel overwhelmed by the amount of information).
This brief note (and the ones to follow) is not intended to add any new thoughts or ideas to the ongoing discussion, sorry.
It is nothing more that an ontheroad diary and a tribute to everyone involved in (what i like to call) the Real Wine Tour d'Amérique, del 2011.
This is a kind of tour that i had never done, for wine trade related reasons :(

In my mind, the fact that i enjoyed it so much as to do with the (i leave it to you to figure out exactly what i mean) fun, real, pleasant qualities of the wines and people touring and those helping out and coming to the shows. 

È stato spettacolare!

Day 1 (dalla Valle del Douro, a Los Angeles in un giorno)

Car from the azienda to Porto, fly to Lisboa, Newark and Los Angeles, cab to Venice, Keven's van to hotel and resto

It is always a thrill. Leaving Covas do Douro (paeso dalla Valle del Douro, barely 100 people) and, just a few hours later, to be in a several million humans city. Day 2 night.
Not much to say of the trip itself. Long, somewhat tiring. 
I'm not as fan of flying as i once was. I'm less trouble by it than i've been. 
Dilemma at the plane's cinema, (had time to watch both) Burlesque or Black Swan? i'm with Christina :D. Colore al posto del nero!

Gjelina - pizza & López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva 2000

I was one of the last rock'n'rollers'del'vino to arrive, but still on time to find the hotel and go to Gjelina for pizza and wine. We had a great rosado, the food was ok.
(Hey, guess what, we're not gonna charge you for the  pizzas that never made it to the table :) 
A long day with an happy ending.

Day 2 (Venice Beach, a tasting, Robert & Nicola, driving to San Francisco)

I had been to California several times (specially in the bay area) when i realized i had never touched the Pacific ocean. I then asked Terry Bachman, Infantado importer at the time, if we could end our work earlier one day so i could go to the beach and wet myself in the Pacific. It is not like this vast ocean tastes better than a great wine :D but i did enjoy the moment.
On my first visit to LA, Diane Harder (oh boy, she did show me around Los Angeles), the great southern California distributor of the "sorry, sold out" book fame, allowed me a free morning that i used to visit Manhattan Beach (south LA) which was great fun.
But, Venice Beach has a reggae'n'roll charge [obviously, there is much more than popular music that took energy from this magical place]  that made it as if i was rediscovering the Pacific!
So, i got up early and took a bus to very west tip of the West Washington Boulevard, just in front of the Venice Fishing Pier, from where i took this picture.

Venice Fishing Pier, the one pier that goes further into the Pacific...

Now, Venice Beach has a 2.5 mile pedestrian-only promenade that features performers, fortune-tellers, artists, and lots of vendors. I've come across the hipster homeless people i had ever seen. And lot's of public workers cleaning (and performing all kinds of other tasks to) their homes (the beach and gardens surrounding it :). Cazzo, pazzo, cazzo :D
Lot's of pot (cannabis sativa and it's Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) doctors that are, by far, the most advertised of all the merchandize on sale here.

Venice Beach's boardwalk, freeshow by the Pacific

So, i walked the "boardwalk" up and down and sucked (deep into this Douro boy's body & soul :) what can be defined as "the home to some of Los Angeles' early beat poets and artists and a place that served as an important cultural center of LA".
Can't think of a better way to mentally :D prepare for my first tasting of the tour @The Tasting Kitchen (1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice, CA).
[Abbot Kinney, tobacco millionaire that founded Venice in 1905. Venice became part of Los Angeles in November 1925. In fact, Venice takes it name from Venezia in Italia, and it has indeed canali, even a Gran Canal!]

Construction of Venice canali and how they look today

As mentioned before, this was my first tournée of the LDM [Louis Dressner McKenna] Wines (previously Infantado had a different importer in the west coast) and my first visit to California in a long (way too long) time. 
The last time was in the fall of 2004, when Sideways (the Pinot Noir is better than Merlot, let alone Cabernet Franc, with sex & love & marriage saga) was released. 

Lou Lombardi and his girlfriend (actor's agent Sandy Joseph, the great Michael Emmet Walsh of Blood Simple's fame was one of her actors) took me to see it in its first week and i truly enjoyed going to the movies in Hollywood.

Our distributor in California, Farm Wine Imports, is divided between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In the south, Robert Brownson is the boss and he's doing a great job as we could easily understand from the success of this first tasting.

The Tasting Kitchen, isn't this a great entrance to a restaurant? 

The tasting was busy but i was kind of slow until the very end. Nobody wants to start with the sweeties, I'll come back to finish here is what i heard all day!
I was showing a full line of Quinta do Infantado, including 3 reds from 2008 (Quinta do Infantado, organic and Reserva) and 8 Portos (White, Ruby, Reserva green label, 2004 LBV, 2007 Vintage, Tawny, 10 years old tawny and 2001 Colheita). All this after tasting so many wines was not an easy task. Anyway i had a great response! 
Wow, a good show for starters :D

from top, Robert Brownson - Farm Wine LA's boss, a fun tasting, Infantado line up, Kevin McKenna, Denyse Louis & Josefa Concannon (LDM Wines)

 Tell me, how much would you like to choose from a wine list like this one?

The tasting kitchen, sample of their wine list, per la festa, contemplazione or meditazione, all from *vitis vinifera*

One last word to mention Nicola Bottacin, Robert's wife and the proud author of "a bientôt", her first romance (still have to buy it and read it), for the great job of welcoming everybody at the tasting.

Nicola Bottacin with Sonia Torretta & the cover of her first romanzo "a bientôt"

I missed the tour bus but had a great trip to San Francisco with Alex Finberg. Alex told me about his 19 accounts, his beer business, his house in a free-parking street of San Francisco and much more. Unfortunately, at some point during the trip i collapsed and went on sleeping instead of keeping Alex's company. Chiedo scusa Alex! 
The day finished with well deserved vegan burrito. 

Alex Finberg provided a barrel of his own beer (and, of course, the tap system to get it out :) for the tour bus

Grazzie Alex. 
San Francisco is next.

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