How the three worlds collided
Back in June, I had a chance to return to one of my favorite cities: Nashville. I’d first visited in 2002, and I’d been itching to get back down there for some time. Nashville is about the music—country, blues, rock—but for this particular trip, it was also about wine.
I was meeting a dear friend, and longtime collector, Mike Ennis. Over the years, we’ve shared wines, meals, laughs, music. Mike loves music, but he loves wine even more. Wine is something he’s continuously discovering, and I can’t blame him. I think two of my loves in life will always be great wine and great music.
When in Nashville, I think there are things that you absolutely need to do. See good music and have dinner with great food, friends and wine. I was lucky to have both in spades. Mike, along with his wife Carol, invited me, my wife Sue, and our sons James and Ben along with several other guests to their home on beautiful Stonebridge Farm in Franklin, Tenn., just south of Nashville.
To make this trip really special, I brought a collection of wines for Mike to try, including a Case Basse di Soldera Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2002 and Pegasos 2005, Bruno Giacosa’s Barolo Croera di La Morra 2004, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove 2007, Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rio Negro Treinta y Dos 2006 and a La Spinetta Barbaresco Gallina 2005. Mike also pulled several wines from his collection, including a Grattamacco and Gaja Contessa from 1998 and a Jacques Selosse among others, and together we had one hell of a dinner.
When it comes to wine, Mike likes everything; he’s one of those guys who can drink anything. Have French Champagne? He loves it! I even brought a fresh Roger Coulon Brut Rosé NV into the mix of mostly Italian vino. When we first met, he already knew the big players in Italian wine—Gaja, the Conternos. Through our conversations and tastings over the years, he now trusts me to pass along what he wants, or may like, and I deliver.
I couldn’t help but soak in those moments as Mike went on and on about how great Italian Wine Merchants was over dinner, or how we managed to get wine right. Believe me, this was not filling any ego—it was really something to hear people say IWM knows how to pick really great wines and knows how to bring this understanding and great wines to their clients. The people have spoken. Well, some of them, and they like us! They really like us!
The need for dinner with friends completely satiated, I next got my music fix next when I stopped over to visit friend John McBride, husband of country singer
Martina McBride, a big wine collector and owner of the Blackbird Studio, one of the premier recording spots in the country. We first met John and Martina when they stopped into IWM. We then hosted them at Ornellaia (one of their favorite producers along with Quintarelli) in Italy last year. John also has a huge guitar collection, and he let my 16-year-old son James, a budding guitarist, lay down a few tracks in the legendary studio.
I thought I was done. I had enjoyed my two favorite things in one of my favorite places. But Mike had something in store for me: fishing—catfishing to be exact. I could have been in a dark, bluesy bar or lounge, soaking in the tunes, but instead I was on shore, in the heat and fishing. It’s funny, because I told Mike that fishing was new to me, and he was telling me how Italian wine was a new experience to him way back when. I guess we’ve helped turn one another on to some new things. I thought to myself that this relationship is what can happen when clients become friends. It’s not forced. It just happens. We talk at least once or twice a month about—what else—wine.
It’s important for me to keep these relationships strong. When a person loves wine and trusts me to deliver, it’s priceless. It’s those friendships that have led to some of the best referrals and even more friendships over the years. That’s what the IWM experience is all about. I look forward to sending Mike some new wines to experience soon, as I will do for anyone else that comes my way. In return, maybe they’ll turn me on to some new things as well. Music? Wine? Dinner with good friends? Catfishing? Isn’t that what life is about?
By the way, I caught a 20-pounder [catfish]—or was it 10?