Scenes from California and Texas 2017

Last month, Giovanni visited Southern California and Southeast and Central Texas where he showed Arcari + Danesi and SoloUva wines. Here are some scenes from his trip…

The weather in La Jolla “by the sea” was beautiful. That’s the famous Scripps Children’s Pool.

Our friends at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego hosted a wonderful event for us. It was the kick-off of our new North American campaign. That’s the awesome “Jaynes Burger.” The food is so spot-on at Jaynes…

We caught a couple of great sets that night after the event, including the Reverend Shawn Amos (above) and Grey Boy Allstars (also amazing).

The excellent Los Angeles wine shop Lou now carries SoloUva! Great shop, great folks… Lou’s e-letter is a must read (sign up on his landing page)…

Then it was off to Texas where Arcari + Danesi and SoloUva are now imported and distributed by Rootstock. That’s founder and owner Ian McCaffery (left) at a tasting at Bufalina, Austin’s coolest pizzeria (awesome wine list, too).

Great meal and great wine list also at Lenoir, one of Austin’s most innovative and creative kitchens. Super cool vibe and awesome wine list.

No trip to Austin is complete without some serious ‘cue at Stiles Switch (our favorite).

And of course, no trip to Texas is complete without a little bit of honky tonking. That’s the Dale Watson at the Broken Spoke, one of the last classic Texan dance halls.

The SoloUva project has challenged the Franciacorta status quo

best-mexican-restaurant-houstonAbove: three of my closest friends and some of the most talented winemakers I know, from left, Andrea Rudelli, Nico Danesi, and Giovanni Arcari. Photo taken in Houston at La Mexicana.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my cherished friendship with winemakers Giovanni Arcari and Nico Danesi and my new partnership with the Arcari + Danesi winery and the SoloUva (Just Grapes) project. But Giovanni and Nico are just two of Franciacorta’s Three Musketeers: the other is another good friend, winemaker Andrea Rudelli (who shares my passion for guitar playing and rock music).

While Giovanni and Nico manage their group’s vineyard on Montorfano (Mt. Orfano) in the southern edge of the Franciacorta appellation, Andrea oversees the group’s vineyard in Adro township, smack-dab in the center, just below Lake Iseo, the appellation’s defining geographical feature.

While fruit from the Montorfano vineyard is used to produce the Arcari + Danesi line, Andrea’s Chardonnay vines, which are more than 30 years old, are employed in the production of the group’s SoloUva label. The Arcari + Danesi wines are the group’s higher tier, while SoloUva, made from 100 percent Chardonnay, is made in a fresh and approachable style. All the wines are produced today using the SoloUva method, whereby no cane (or beet) sugar is used to provoke the second fermentation or to top the wines off at disgorgement (the dosage). Instead, reserved grape must is used. Hence, the name SoloUva or “just grapes.”

When I call the trio the Three Musketeers of Franciacorta, the metaphor is by no means facile or gratuitous. Together, the three winemakers have bucked the Franciacorta system. And they’ve ruffled more than one feather in the process. They developed the SoloUva method themselves and they were the first in the appellation to make wines using this process. But they also gave birth to the “grower Franciacorta” movement: not only did they encourage other small estates to stop selling their grapes to the négociant houses in Franciacorta when they initially launched their consulting business over a decade ago, but they also led the way by example when they started bottling their own “estate-grown” fruit.

Franciacorta is an appellation shaped primarily by large wineries, owned by a handful of powerful families. For many of those families, grape growing and winemaking aren’t the primary sources of their income. Industry is. Together, Andrea, Giovanni, and Nico have led the new wave of young Franciacorta producers who grow, bottle, and market their wines themselves — as their primary income stream.

That’s not to say that the big wineries don’t make fantastic wine. Many of them do. (Pour me a drink and I’ll tell you my favorites.) But like Dumas’ Musketeers, the SoloUva team has challenged the monarchic status quo. And Giovanni, through his excellent blog, Terra Uomo Cielo (Earth, [Hu]man, Sky), has shed light on the way the current appellation system favors the big gals and — how can I say this gently? — hinders the smaller potatoes.

So if these guys really are the Three Musketeers of Franciacorta, does that make me d’Artagnan? Sorry, Giovanni. I know you wanted to be d’Artagnan. But remember: united, the four of us will face l’Éminence rouge!

Jeremy Parzen
US Ambassador for SoloUva

If you’re in Southern California this weekend, come taste with me and Giovanni in San Diego on Saturday (details below). And I have great news to share with my fellow Texans: the group will soon have a Texas importer and Giovanni and I will be showing the wines in Austin and Houston next week. Just let me know if you’d like to taste with us.

SoloUva tasting with
winemaker Giovanni Arcari
(and me)
Saturday, February 25
4:00-6:00 p.m.
@ Jaynes Gastropub (San Diego)
$25 per person
includes light bites by Jaynes

Jaynes Gastropub
4677 30th St.
San Diego CA 92116
(619) 563-1011
Google map

Registration not required but please shoot me an RSVP email
to let me know that you are coming so that we can get a headcount.

Taste SoloUva in San Diego with Giovanni and Jeremy February 25 (event details)

jeremy-parzen-giovanni-arcari

Due to forces beyond our control, we had to cancel the Sunday, February 26 event in Los Angeles.

But the February 25 event in San Diego is DEFINITELY on. Here are the details. We hope to see you there!

SoloUva tasting with
winemaker Giovanni Arcari
and Italian wine blogger Jeremy Parzen
Saturday, February 25
4:00-6:00 p.m.
$25 per person
includes light bites by Jaynes

Jaynes Gastropub
4677 30th St.
San Diego CA 92116
(619) 563-1011
Google map

Registration not required but please shoot Jeremy an RSVP email
to let him know that you are coming so that we can get a headcount.

Taste with Giovanni in San Diego and Los Angeles February 25-26!

A post from our new U.S. marketing guru Jeremy Parzen aka Do Bianchi!

See the February 25-26 tasting event details below…

giovanni-arcari-wineFranciacorta winemaker Giovanni Arcari (above, left) and I first met back in 2008 in Erbusco in the heart of his appellation. We immediately hit it off and became fast friends. But it wasn’t until I was invited to speak at the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Brescia a few years later that our friendship began to blossom (Brescia is the capital city of Brescia province, which includes the Franciacorta appellation).

Even in those early years of our relationship, we talked about working together. But I was already working with another Franciacorta producer by that point. That partnership was so fruitful that it lead to a two-year campaign that I ran for the Franciacorta consortium.

As our friendship grew deeper and deeper and the years passed, Giovanni and I were disappointed not to be working together. But he always insisted that the appellation came first and he was unabashedly supportive of the program I ran for the bottlers’ association.

In December 2016, after 24 months of blogging, traveling across the U.S. leading tastings, and bringing writers to Franciacorta to raise awareness of this extraordinary appellation and its often spectacular wines, I felt it was finally time to move on. I’ve been thrilled by the results obtained and the full-fledged support that the consortium gave me throughout my tenure there. But it was time to turn the page, as the adage goes.

And where one chapter in life comes to end, another begins: I’m overjoyed to announce that I’m going to be helping out with promoting Giovanni’s wines in the U.S.

giovanni-arcariGiovanni and I are going to kick things off with two tastings this month:

Jaynes Gastropub
San Diego
Saturday, February 25
details to follow

CANCELLED
Sotto
Los Angeles
Sunday, February 26
details to follow

I’ll be posting the details in coming days and sharing on social media. But please save the dates if you’re in Southern California then. Thanks in advance for your support!

nico-danesiThere’s so much more of this story to tell: I’ve just taken over this blog where I’ll be posting regularly there on our adventures, the wines, and their reception in the U.S.

But I couldn’t publish this post and launch this project without a nod to Giovanni’s better (winemaking) half, Nico Danesi (above, left).

He’s also become a cherished friend over the years and he’s one of the most interesting and intellectually provocative winemakers I’ve ever met (he also commands an encyclopedic knowledge of film and film history, our favorite subjects after Wittgenstein).

He and Giovanni conceived what is known as the SoloUva method, the “just grapes” approach to the production of Franciacorta wines. I’ll be sharing more about the method in upcoming posts on the SoloUvaUSA blog.

Read about the SoloUva method here in the meantime. And check out the song I wrote about it a few years ago here or below.

All we need is grapes! Thanks for your continued and future support. And thanks for believing in me and our crazy dreams.

Jeremy Parzen
marketing guru
SoloUvaUSA

Giovanni and Nico, I love you guys! Giovanni, see you soon in the U.S.!

A great video interview with Giovanni (with English subtitles)

best franciacorta wine just grapes

Earlier this month, TastingSpots, the official blog of the Roscioli food and wine shop and wine bar and restaurant in Rome, published this video, the first in a series they are devoting to Arcari + Danesi, including tastings with Giovanni in Rome and a visit to the Arcari + Danesi vineyard and winery.

The English subtitles are really well done and this is a great way to obtain a greater understanding of what the SoloUva method is and why it makes for such distinct wines.

Photo credit: Roscioli Facebook.