Wordplay I

Q: What do you call someone from the Bahamas who lives unconventionally?

A: A bohemian Bahamian.


The Narrative of Problematics


My dad always seemed slightly annoyed when he said I was born with bullshitting superpowers. As a student I couldn’t be troubled with any con as tangible as law or medicine, so eventually I finished academics studying bullshit in its purest form, so-called critical theory.

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Know Your Importer, Vol. 3 – deGrazia

Tonight at 6pm Mudgie’s presents five wines from the portfolio of Marc deGrazia Selections.

Marco deGrazia began his import company in 1980 with a degree in comparative literature and two Tuscan estates yet unknown in the US: Fontodi and Podere il Palazzino. Before this, Italian wines were limited by a popular perception that they should be cheap and simple. De Grazia’s venture represents the beginning of the world’s fascination with the great Italian wines, which are now known to be second to none anywhere on earth.



Italy claims certain natural and historical fortunes when it comes to making great wine.

1) Thousands of years of continuous vine cultivation and extremely varied geology and climate have given Italy an indigenous stock of vine varieties that are beautifully adapted to their specific region. This delicate balance can be tested, when, for example the great grapes Sangiovese and Nebbiolo are transplanted to other regions their greatness is lost.

2) Relatively decentralized political structure in recent centuries has resulted in unparalleled diversity, with nearly every farm and backyard acting as a viticultural laboratory. Contrast this with France and Germany, which produce wines from a more collective and centralized model.

3) Wealthy elites have provided the essential support for the risky and demanding work required to make great wines. From the princes of Florence and Sienna, to the mercantile elites of Venice to the modern industrialists, Italians love Italian wine and support it.

The great wines of Italy are so numerous and diverse that it would be impossible to represent them with 100 wines, let alone five! Tonight, at best, we can hope to inspire more exploration, and for some of us that can be the pursuit of a lifetime.



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Short Name: Albaspino
Full Name: 2015 Bianchello del Matauro
Producer: Fattoria Villa Ligi
Owner: Stefano Tonelli and Marco Gozzi
Geography: Northern Marche on the Adriatic (east) coast
Volume: The entire estate is 60 acres and produces 7 wines. About 1300 cases of this wine is produced.
$12 bottle
Variety: Biancame (a.k.a. Bianchello)
Description: A deceptively plain beauty with a creamy peach pit character lifted by a natural trace of dissolved gasses. The essence of its appeal is the fact that it does not demand to be noticed. But scrutinize it and it is rewarding with its balance and versatility.
Comparables: Good Friuli Pinot Grigio. Pinot Blanc. Unoaked Chardonnay.
Pairings: Versatile. I’ve had this with spicy Mexican tortas, grilled cheese, and Mudgie’s chicken fajita salad. Excellent.

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Short Name: Frappato
Full Name: 2014 Centonze Frappato
Producer: Centonze (say: chin-tone-zay)
Owner: Giovanni Centonze with daughter Carla and son Nicola.
Geography: Southern corner of Sicily
Volume: The entire estate is 50 acres and produces 7 wines. 4000 cases of this wine is produced.
Retail: $16 bottle
Variety: Frappato
Description: Typical for Frappato, this wine offers an abundance of fresh fruit with a relatively light color and minimal tannins.
Comparables: Hand-harvested cru Beaujolais. Pinot Noir.
Pairings: This is the kind of red that pairs well with spicy hot food, as the burn becomes beautifully wrapped in the sweetness of the wine’s fruit.
Link: http://www.marcdegrazia.com/italian-wine-selections/italian-wine-selections//centonze-frappato-2014.html

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Short Name: Pianezzo (say: pya-nate-so)
Full Name: 2014 Francesco Boschis Dogliani Pianezzo
Producer: Francesco Boschis
Owner: husband and wife Mario and Simona Boschis with sons Paolo and Marco and daughter Chiara
Geography: Just south of the Barolo zone in Piedmont, northwestern Italy
Volume: The entire estate is 27 acres and produces 11 wines. 1250 cases of this wine is produced.
$15 bottle
Varieties: Dolcetto
Description: This is a HUGE and dramatic contrast (in one way) vis a vis the previous wine. While they are both in their essence wines of fruit expression, this Dolcetto is much more tightly wound up with nervous acidity and dark tannins. Please give your palate a minute to adjust! As it interacts with a wine drinker a dramatic conversion takes place. The wine begins to show bright soprano notes of blue fruits and poppies.
Comparables: Not really comparable to anything very familiar to the general wine drinker. In some ways it resembles a naive version of a good Barolo or Barbaresco, with its perfume and minerality.
Pairings: The acidity here makes it a perfect pairing with game and pork in butter and cream sauces. Surprise idea: try it with strongly flavored fish, such as salmon or mackerel.
Link: http://www.marcdegrazia.com/italian-wine-selections/italian-wine-selections//boschis-dogliani-pianezzo-2015.html

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Short Name: Rosso del Palazzino
Full Name: 2014 Rosso del Palazzino
Producer: Podere il Palazzino
Owner: Two generations of the Sderci family.
Geography: Between Gaiole and the Appenine mountains, just east of the Chianti zone in Tuscany
Volume: The entire estate is 50 acres and produces 8 wines. 1083 cases of this wine is produced.
$12 bottle
Varieties: 95% Sangiovese, with 5% a potential mix of other native varieties: Malvasia, Canaiolo, etc.
Description: A serenade of earthy perfumes mixed with leather and berries melting into pinecone meats .
Comparables: Traditional excellent Chianti.
Pairings: Smoky grilled meats and vegetables. Unlike most wines, this pairs beautifully with nightshade vegetables like eggplant and tomato.
Link: http://www.marcdegrazia.com/italian-wine-selections/italian-wine-selections//il-palazzino-rosso-del-palazzino-2014.html

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Short Name: Stagi (say: stodgy)
Full Name: 2011 Palazzino Stagi
Producer: Podere il Palazzino
Owner: Two generations of the Sderci family.
Geography: near Gaiole in the southern part of the Chianti zone in Tuscany
Volume: The entire estate is 50 acres and produces 8 wines. 66 cases of this wine is produced.
$21 bottle
Varieties: 100% Colorino
Description: A very dense and dark wine with sensations of brooding black berries and balsamic herbs mixed with hearty tannins and weighty extract.
Comparables:  Great Bordeaux. Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was scored 92 points by critic Stephen Tanzer.
Pairings: Roasted or grilled rib meat from beef or mutton. Garlic and butter-dressed if possible.
Link: http://www.marcdegrazia.com/italian-wine-selections/italian-wine-selections//il-palazzino-stagi-2011.html
This wine essentially functions as an attention-getter. The amount produced is so small, it is destined to quickly become just a memory, talked about among wine lovers who were lucky enough to have experienced it.

Gold Cash Gold – Wine Spot

This is a draft of the new wine list at Gold Cash Gold, scheduled to debut this Tuesday.

The prices by the bottle are … how should I say … inconceivable. Take advantage of us.

I find humor in the juxtapositions, in the neologisms (vouvret!), and in the actual taste of many of these wines. If you never drank a wine and laughed out loud, maybe give some of these a try.

NOTE: do you have a wine you want to drink at GCG which is not on this list? Bring it in for a mere $20/bottle corkage. proceeds go to janitorial maintenance, insurance, glassware, rent, and to the base total for calculation of gratuity.


6 – HOUSE WHITE DRY ROSÉ – A good wine, naturally dry and ripe, versatile with food, and $4 during happy hour


10 – SAUVIGNON – Roc Meynard, Bordeaux Blanc
dry and mineral. pair with severity, bones and Plato.


9 – BIANCO, the PRE-GRIGIO – Verdicchio, Marchetti
the Italian white wine that taught white burgundy how to sass



12 – CHARDONNAY – Sonoma County, Lioco
Qualifornia’s original return to nature happened when Lioco was founded in 2005

9 – OYSTER – Muscadet from Domaine Branger.
the world is yours. DRY and fresh with notes of oyster-shell. pair with chicken salad and/or oysters.


9 – CHENIN – 2014 Chenin Blanc, Badenhorst Le Secateurs, South Africa
this is the exotic one, more dry vouvret than steen. unctuous, bright, quincey, and a trump card paired with brassica, crucifer, and cole crops


9 – DRY RIESLING – Von Buhl Jazz
i mean, it’s dry, but so is your hair.


6 – SWEET – Angels Tears. South Africa.
we searched and searched for a balanced sweeter wine. we knew when the search was over.




HOUSE RED – A good red, naturally dry and ripe, versatile with food – $4 during happy hour


PINOT NOIR – Gitton Bourgogne Rouge
this is not fruit punch. it deserves to be called wine. from the loire part of burgundy.


MERLOT – 2011 Tranquillite Merlot
ripe merlot qua merlot can take a little oak aging – gives it a nice toast and vanilla taste


MALBEC – 2012 Malbec Mogollon, Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina
actual estate wine from a colder part of mendoza. bold dark red. no need to over-oak this fruit. a good alternative to cab.



10 RHONE – 2012 Cotes du Rhone Chaume-Arnaud Le Petit Coquet
this is silkier cuz its from vinsobres and thats what the sand dunes do. and, because biodynamic.

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10 DOLCETTO – 2013 San Luigi Dogliani, Pecchenino
these guys invented great dolcetto – dolce meaning gentle. it does pair with seafood, and really anything this side of a bloody steak.

11 CABERNET – Broadside, Margarita Vineyard
can it be that we find ourselves suddenly stumbling over devoutly natural and delicious california wines? this possesses volumes of cab character uncommon from paso robles.


Rest of the list after the jump

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Part Too

photo courtesy of Jacqueline Dickow.

Thanks to everyone. Mom. Joe Dressner. Dave and Melissa. Mr. Gild. Alexa. Everyday Wines. Tom Natoci. Mudge man. Roy Shelef. Jim Lutfy. Remy. Eddie J., Becky Wasserman, Kevin Burrows. Phillip. Sho sho. Robbie Fulks. Elisa. Steve. Steve. Mike. Dave. Dave. Tiffany. Erin. Cassidee. Jarrod. Dan. Dana. Danielle. Melissa. Amy. Joe. Tara. Bertha. Wendy. Jessie. Dave. Mike. Amanda. Tiffany. Ernie. Brutus. And everyone!

Personally, Yes

A few weeks ago I read a wine list for a new restaurant in LA and I knew it was time to quit my job.

There I was, enjoying my seventh year serving in a deservedly famous restaurant called Slows Bar BQ.

Not only did Slows play a role in saving my life – whatever it’s worth – Slows was also a really fun place to work. I was there, to soak up the lightning.

And then I saw the wine list for Hatchet Hall, and the storm of vitriol and hurt feelings it inspired. As I read the list I smiled. Then I laughed. I was not alone, but nor did everyone get the joke. Someday I hope to explain the comedy in very dry, analytic terms, but for now I am still laughing a little.

There are two dining establishments local to me which are experiencing periods of dynamic innovation. Alphabetically, they are Gold Cash Gold and Mudgie’s Fine Deli-ing. Gold Cash Gold has been open barely a year on a city block shared by Slows. Mudgie’s inhabits a bucolic corner of Corktown where it has recently expanded to include its own wine shop.

As I wrote lists of wine for each place this week I had a sensation of liberation not related to the usual between-job butterflies. The language had opened up. The old rules existed to preserve the feelings of the most uptight of critics, and these were in decline. I hasten to add, I sincerely wish no harm to the feelings of the most uptight of critics, just as I wish no harm to anyone. The problem lies in the fact that these rules can mislead everyone else.

What is Chablis? Is it Chardonnay? Is Raveneau Chablis? Who is ladling guilt over our usage? Who’s language is it? If wine makes people nervous, and O does it, that may indicate a wealth of potential comedy.

Wine lists – besides containing inspiration, value, clarity, focus and comfort – should be funny! If your wine list isn’t funny, it just may be a waste of your time and resources!

I hope to demonstrate in future posts.

Certainly there will continue to be brooding, scrupulously lexical and boring wine lists. And they will tend to be stocked with boring wine, at ridiculous prices, yet not worth the first dollar. But these are on the way out. So I am so glad to be back.

What can you do?

Come to the gala debut of the new wine list at Gold Cash Gold this Monday. Chef Stockton has five courses in store, each of which will be paired with two wines. You can rediscover miraculous coq au vin and drink dry-farmed Pinot Noir from the Cancilla Vineyard. Huet is scheduled to appear as mousse and with mousse. Amphora-fermented Sicilian red wine shall warmly embrace 2015 Pumpkins, and a relaxed group of people who know how to have fun – even with wine! Follow this link.

Do it.

See you there!

photo courtesy of Jacqueline Dickow