Catch-Up Concentrate: Just Add Wine!

Been postponing my departure for Argentina during all of this month, which makes for a hard time 'keeping it in the moment'. I'm a nervous flyer at best, & have never been in the air longer than the seven hours or so across the pond to London, Madrid, Paris or Frankfurt-- after which I've always been a jet-lagged wreck for about a week.
Getting to Buenos Aires will take a few more teeth-jarring tick-tocks.

Today I've had my first cup of coffee after a week of some self-prescribed, cold-turkey anxiety management withdrawal, so I may actually finish this post...

There is so much I've been meaning to share, since I got back from my NY-VA-NC sojourn: about the three wine négociant dinners attended-- (I may have been the closest thing to a winemaker around, not really a source of any comfort or pride: media, marketers & other biz people, gourmets, hangers-on-- nice folk, too, but...) --long-rehearsed, half-composed writeups on the characterful wines of Villa Appalaccia & Chateau Morrisette in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Floyd, Virginia...on my continuing exploration of white wine-- recently veering away from Rhone blends to focus on Torrontés & Arneis...
I've also been rehearsing some sort of disclosure as to the family circumstances that make writing about wine a somewhat contradictory, emotional & sometimes difficult chore for me:
(deeeep breath)

My younger brother was a charming womanizer of an alcoholic who was gunned down by police in Orlando, Florida two years ago last May 21. Use of deadly force by law-enforcement officers was ruled 'Justifiable Homicide' which seems a stretch (--three armed law-enforcement officers facing a lone drunk, even with a knife of some sort in each hand?) --but of course I cannot responsibly speculate on the attendant circumstances in public.
(Don't you just love a mystery??)
Look up 'raging, anxious codependent' in your Self-help Psychology dictionary & you should find a snapshot of yours truly, grinning stiffly.

I sleep in his old room in the leaky, modernist flying saucer-hut that is the family home, as my own has become the mini-warehouse/studio-library glimpsed behind the funky Mac 'PhotoBooth' self-portraits seen here...and here:

At least there's our backyard...

--and our funky patio ready for alfresco wine tasting!

So, I got issues. And my experience with psychoactive meds has been very negative, so I work hard on self-care mostly by running, eating healthy & keeping my wine intake very, very moderate. Oh, & for some emotional connection to counter my tendency to isolated hermitry, I watch over two cats: Negrita, (stay-away-don't-touch-me!) who belonged to Alberto, my late brother, & receives no end of tearful projection on my Dad's part...

--& 'Lucho Gatica', who, in retrospect, would seem to have played a crucial part in the long (...reluctant?) courtship between my Dad & my new Stepmother. (Dr. D. Rodríguez-Pérez, after mourning my mother for a dozen years, remarried one month before his 90th birthday, three years ago next January. Stepmom Jeannette may still be shy of the big six-oh...? Don't ask, don't tell...)

Lucho was a gift of Jeannette's-- a young, black Angora half-breed, prettyboy tom with eyes that looked like a kohl-rimmed Egyptian prince's. After years of prowling and some violence on the part of humans, though, he's deaf, blind in one eye and miraculously alive while endlessly nursing (read, scratching & scraping) a running sore behind his left ear worthy of Philoktetes... his craggy brawler countenance & carriage are worthy of a Bukowski character, if not old 'Harry Chinaski' himself...

But to get back on-topic:
The bigger issues-- & anxieties-- with this trip to Argentina arise from the pressure I've put on myself to achieve a well-loaded agenda. Long story short, I'm looking to finalize an arrangement where I can make a test barrel or three using traditional Old World methods (co-fermentation of reds with a percentage of aromatic white grapes-- in open-top wood puncheons, say, using indigenous yeasts...) to economically improve the perceived quality & marketability of wines made from grape varieties considered secondary & less than 'Noble': hopefully Barbera, possibly Bonarda, which is starting to garner some attention & respect; maybe Tannat, maybe fruit from the small plantings of Graciano & Mondeuse-- Refosco?-- I hear survive scattered away from the burgeoning mainstream.
All of this so that I can use the (hopefully) fat profit margins to fund a long-cherished community entrepreneurship project: a network of web-linked Culture Cafés focusing on improving relations between émigré communities & their hosts...
(to be continued...)


Rimbaud Ramble

however the world turns
my mouth overflows germs

I am dirty & ill
& I won't take my pill

I fight the flush alone
by the still moat of home

but I lose heart with pain
so I pluck it again

while I wait in the shade
for the sun like a blade

(by the time it crashes
my cuts will bleed ashes)

Any World That I'm Welcome To--

'is better/than the one/I come from...'

(Barcelona Farewell)

she wear the fat belt
she meet my eyelid
she draw her butt cheek line
so dark & close to my own
dead & gone edge

she hold the crowd back
she keep a friend cool
she trigger-happy looker
wearing my own
stolen heart of gold, dear

--on cuff-linked sleeves, dear:
surrender, dear eye--
you do remember, my eye?
let's think & sink a-gain
--you try my recall 'gain, dear

she sit on blow clean slate
she squeeze my mem'ry gland
she march all night on lace-white
friends all grown so old
before our time

(she foreign spectate, or-
correspond to speculate-a-dress
in my mind's eye, only--
argue come to blows again)

(Arc Café, November 2003)


Delirious: That was then, this is now-- & then--

Ah, the good ole days-- 365 of 'em ago-- Noah Dorrance, of Crushpad & Alan 'CellarRat' Baker, after tasting with Noah Chandler, at Lazy Creek, his own operation just north of Philo in Anderson Valley, beautiful Mendocino County...

(nothing but sorrow, drunk
or sober, nothing but sorrow)

Here is my long-lost home
the maze of hierarchical digits I would tear down
--the ziggurat

all wired for money on a giant canvas

make it home since I must


Wine Blogging Wednesday #38: Outubro em Portugal? I wish...

1812 h. --it is a web log, after all.

I just walked back from El Hórreo with three bottles of wine from the Alentejo, more specifically, Quinta do Carmo, a Domaine Baron Rotschild property since 1992.
Should've done this yesterday: it's past midnight & already Thursday for WBW #38 hosts Gabriella & Ryan on the northernmost ridges of El Garraf, west of Barcelona.

1912 h. Was hoping to go for a run or at the very least some light weight-training & stretching before continuing but the heat & humidity have me on the edge of nodding out.
There was a bottle of Vinho Verde winking at me from a display rack & I should have yielded to its seduction. Lentillas refogadas is not the best idea for dinner in this weather, either. Should have stuck with the original plan for some Salada 'Russa'...yadda yadda.

2058 h. Yah, OK, I gave up. Finally sitting down to my plate of lentils-- after opening & comparing (nibbling on some mariscos en escabeche out of a can all the while...) the '91 & '02 bottlings of 'Don Martinho', (la Quinta's 'second wine') the older bottling still under the care (winemaking? management?) of Julio Bastos; the second, with the Rotschild partnership well in charge; their young Cab & Syrah plantings online for a couple of years & blended in to the vague tune of 20- 40%, while 70 to 80% (percentages are the Rotschilds!) is a mix of traditional Aragonez-- synonym --or clone?-- of Tinta Roriz &/or Tempranillo; Alicante (Bouschet, or Garnacha Tintorera)-- & Periquita, also known as Castelão in different regions of Portugal.

2306 h. It's taken me this long to edit this much. Tasting notes? The '02 was slightly 'bretty' to the nose, all saddle leather, loam & mushrooms, while the '91 had some elusive evergreen & cherry mixed in with much lighter, fading notes of the funk underpinning. Color is ruby in the '02, a deeper, more intense 'cereza picota' (--bing cherry?) in the '91.

2348 h. I opened the more expensive (26.50 + 6.5?% tax) 1996 Quinta do Carmo-- 'drink now through 2001' says the WS blurb on the North Carolina online merchant's page linked to above. Ooops.
Meanwhile, the '91 is slowly opening & seems to be holding up amazingly well-- some light but lively sour cherry in there! At one pont, midpalate seemed to be thinning out into tart ether, but it seems to have reflated... I'll check in & publish this now, but, like the proto-pop modernist old serials & 'graphic novels' (glorified comics?) used to put it,

Columbus Day:
Día de Colón(ization) or, Día de la Raza, or Descubrimiento de América...depending where & how you celebrate it-- if at all. How confused can Political Correctness get? Are 'Indigenous' populations all Indo-Aryans, then?
OK! End of mini-rant... the '96 Quinta do Carmo has opened up to show more depth (I won't go so far as to say 'complexity', notice...) & a delicious mouthfeel for an 11 year-old wine supposedly past its prime...but as far as price point in Puerto Rico, $26.50 plus our new, convoluted sales/value-added tax hybrid...seems just a bit much-- just a bit, mind you-- however, the '91 'Don Martinho' --$15.00 + tax here in Puerto Rico-- if you can find it, is a little jewel-- sixteen years in the bottle & it keeps opening up to brisk freshness similar to a 'Cru' Beaujolais, two days after pulling the cork! Fruit something like redcurrant or cranberry; midpalate just a little thin, body lighter than the 'Quinta'-- but for a wine so light, there is a nice lingering 'posgusto'-- while the '02 version, for all the young Cab & Syrah now being added, has tannins that hit your palate then come up short.

If you'll bear with me, I'll write a third installment tomorrow-- ah-- tomorrow (today, already) is Padrino's, my uncle Yayo (Eduardo)'s 94th birthday...

He used to love the big wines of Cariñena (-- & the lighter, Garnacha-based clarets of Navarra) like I do.

Anything & everything I write about wine owes a lot to him.
...& this particular 'Baptism of Fire' into the WBW (Wrestling Blotto Writers?) arena I would like to dedicate to the memory of my Titi Olga.


On the third day...ten minutes out of the refrigerator & still cold, some unusual qualities came up before the wines finally 'flattened out':
'Don Martinho' followed the hollowing midpalate with an aftertaste of sticky, chalky tannins, while the 'Quinta do Carmo' seemed to run towards heat and heightened, rough acidity-- still, bouncing back to some nice cassis & clove spice notes in the latter case, even as it died in the glass! I had never experienced the importance of temperature in serving wine like this. Lessons to ponder.
(PS, Sunday evening-- Ended up drinking the last 3/4 glass of the 'Quinta' I'd saved to add to a stew-- still some cassis & spice!-- I may have been too quickly dismissive of this wine-- here: you can find it stateside at $19.99 from two different online shops. It's the least I can do! Salut!)

Un abrazo y un millón de gracias a Gabriella & Ryan por todos sus esfuerzos.


Luna Perdida, Cante Jondo

como la mar, la luna del planeta
refleja la mía:
recién creciente daga de marfil
hunde su imposible filo entre nubes
sin borde

¿Quién empuña esta luz sobre mi nuca
que corre hacia la medianoche?

trece lunas de bruma
trece amuletos pálidos
exhalan escupen respiran
drenan trece tacos a través
de cuatro estaciones de luto

no hay voz ni vasija sin falla

todo aliento ronca el barro de sangre