Thursday, September 16, 2010
Last week, in front of a national television audience on ABC, 28-year-old Jesse Kovacs rolled around on a yellow Lamborghini, making out with a vapid co-star. In this week’s last episode, he was voted off with said Elizabeth by a pair who trumped them in a ballroom twirl coached by Dancing With the Stars choreographers, snubbing a shot at $250,000.
Yes, reality is surreal for one of the county’s youngest winemakers (this was his second reality turn after Bachelorette: Season 5). But it’s with a brand new wine book that the Carmel Valley resident and his brother Jacob are poised to really make out. Like bandits.
While we can’t claim our culture has advanced as a result of the programming in which Jesse’s participated, fortunately The Young and the Thirsty: 25 California Wines for the New School Drinker, a light-reading, coffee-table-style release ($19.99), does advance a segment of wine culture by engaging the young grape juice drinker, embracing new wine tastes, and profiling small-plot producers with compelling back-stories (with a side dish of drinkability, affordability and California loyalty).
Its thin 96 pages start with a Hungarian proverb, an inheritance from their hilarious pops, first-generation immigrant Joseph: “The wines remember the hearts and hands that made them.” It also primes readers on our county’s uniquely flavor-producing winegrowing conditions, plus a little family history at Szalay Winery, where the brothers once packed into a 400-square-foot trailer with dad and mom Bette.
What follows is a playful, youthful manifesto of sorts from the seventh generation wine makers whose own label is called Kovacs Brothers. “Be gone, sixer of Old Milwaukee. Come hither, Sauvignon Blanc. There is no need for a proper glass – I will drink you straight from the bottle, and I will like it,” the intro reads. “Leave me, mystique and snobbery. Don’t let the door hit ya’ where the good Lord split ya’.”
The 25 picks, divided into reds, rosés and “sweet” pours and arriving with a taste of the stories behind them, include nice local choices, all between $10 and $30, like Talbott 2007 Kali Hart Pinot Noir ($21), Boeté 2004 Estate Cabernet Franc ($25) and Parsonage 2007 Snosrap Cyrano Syrah ($25).
The brothers like to say their career began when they showed up at Scheid to buy wine for blending with only a dented beer keg to carry it in, but this tour marks a bigger genesis. Their cross-country book tour starts 6-8pm Friday at Taste of Monterey and crisscrosses the country and Canada. They’re pushing their irreverent website – including goofy “Kovacs TV” bits – and anticipating the sales boost that comes from millions of viewers.
To that point, not only can I find the courage to admit to watching this soul-sucking program for half an episode, I can confess to enjoying it at least a little, in large part because 1) I got a kick out of the fact that everyone goes by his or her first name except Jesse, who, in what I hope is a bit of marketing mindfulness, goes by “Kovacs”; and 2) Despite his kinda cocky game, everybody on the show, even his biggest male rival, jocked the former minor league baseball player, including Jesse himself.
“She wants something more serious than I do,” Jesse said at one point. “If a girl catches a bad case of Kovacs, what can you do?”
Maybe sell her a case of wine.
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Mighty heirloom tomato dinner coming up Monday, Sept. 20, at Cantinetta Luca (626-7880). Chef Jason Balestreri leads four standout chefs pairing Swank Farms tomato greatness with Thomas Perez wine picks, $95, check out the menu on the blog… Whole Foods has announced it will introduce a sustainable seafood color-coded system based in conjunction with the Monterey Bay Aquarium… With its virgin voyage a year ago, the small but talented crew that put on Big Sur Food & Wine (667-0800) served notice that this franchise is going to fun for a long time. Tickets went on sale for 2010 last week. Notable upgrades include more “hikes with stemware,” new digs for the opening act (Highlands Inn) and the grand tasting (Henry Miller Library) and extended wine dinners. Founder Toby Rowland-Jones and chief badass Aengus Wagner even secured wine guru Jim Gordon to debut his exhaustive and madly anticipated Opus Vino. Proceeds flow to Big Sur health, safety and education. www.bigsurfoodandwine.org… Haven Bourque, a Bay Area-based foodie-colleague, just visited our local sustainable farming heroes at Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association. From it emerged a piece as informative as it is poetic (see p. 15). The Civil Eats website where it first appeared is bookmark-mandatory… Jamba Juice is doing a buy-one-get-one-free deal through Wednesday, Sept. 22, with a coupon from the website (or you can show it on your smartphone – oh the technology!), www.jambajuice.com/eb/bogo1/index.html… Harvest Carmel’s coming quick, Sept. 25-26, $85 a day. Big Sur Land Trust sent out a link where you can pump $25 of the price to them through their website… “Reality is merely an illusion,” Albert Einstein once said, “albeit a very persistent one.”