"It's difficult to soar with eagles when you walk with turkeys."--Jack Rollins
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Wine Tasting Wednesday with the HoseMaster
I get a lot of complaints that I don't write enough about wine. OK, I got one complaint. But it was from a real big shot in the wine business. OK, it was from the security guard at Chalk Hill Winery. He may be nobody to you, but he's my connection for black market Zicam. So I thought that every other Wednesday or so I'd write about some of the wines that I've consumed in recent days. Sounds boring, doesn't it? But let's face it, no one has been reading HoseMaster of Wine since I stopped showing tits. So, basically, this is just my little whacking off Wine Journal. But you can think of it as my contribution to the dreary, sleep-inducing world of wine reviewing.
ETUDE 1995 CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY Before Tony Soter sold Etude and went off to Oregon to make sparkling wine (Soter pop), he produced some stellar Cabernets at Etude. That chain-smokin' bastard could really make Cab. And I have always loved the '95 vintage from Napa Valley--it's far superior to the overhyped vintages of '94 and '97--hell, the '97's, highly touted by Wine Spectator in their youth, have gone downhill quicker than David Carradine's erection. There was a period in the mid-90's that Etude was on top of the Napa Cabernet world with a superb bottling sourced from great vineyards like Madrona Ranch, Vine Hill Ranch and, I think, a touch of Creamy Ranch. I was going through my wine cellar and found a bottle of the '95 and thought, Hmm, this should be about ready to drink. This proved to be inaccurate, but then I remembered you have to remove the cork first--then it's ready to drink. I don't know what to say about this wine except that it was amazing. OK, I'll think of something. It's wines like this that remind me why I have Napa Cabernets in my cellar to begin with. When they are good, they are majestic. The '95 Etude was seamless, rich, delicious, balanced, astonishing Cabernet, and the best thing I've put in my mouth that didn't have hair on it in a really long time.
DEHLINGER 2003 PINOT NOIR GOLDRIDGE VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY My gorgeous wife broiled a beautiful piece of King Salmon and it's dying words were, "Drink a Pinot Noir with me." OK, it was one of those talking wall-mounted fish, but it was damned tasty anyway. The Dehlinger 2003 was luscious. It seems like there are as many "hot" new Pinot Noir producers these days as there are new wine blogs. They should all put a cork in it. Or, as an alternative, get screwed. Trust me, most of those "hot" new producers make horrible wine. But, gratefully, in small lots. When a new Pinot producer says he only made 200 cases of his new single-vineyard monstrosity it is apt to remind him, "If there were only 200 cases of syphilis in the world I wouldn't want one of those either." But Tom Dehlinger has been making great Pinot Noir in the Russian River for decades and should be on everyone's short list of great Pinot Noir producers. The 2003 "Goldridge Vineyard" was right at the age where I think most good California Pinot Noirs hit their sweet spot, about six years from the vintage. Pinot Noirs are like Olympic gymnasts--they're limber and erotic and lithe in their youth, but you end up throwing them away after eight years because there are new and better ones right behind them. They age about like Olga Korbut (who, coincidentally, hails from the Belarussian River). Showing off what used to be a perfect 10 Give the Dehlinger a 9.5, a 9.0, a 8.5, a 9.5, and a 7.5 from the Chinese judge.
DRY CREEK VINEYARDS 2006 CABERNET SAUVIGNON DRY CREEK VALLEY
A HoseMaster Best Buy! I recently paid a visit to Dry Creek Vineyards to taste wine and see Kim Stare Wallace (if you don't read her blog Wilma's Wine World, well, join the club), but the fantastically beautiful Kim was on vacation so I met with Bill Smart, who should more aptly be named Bill Tall. I guess I won't be welcome there any more. After tasting through their large lineup of wines, and coming away impressed by many of them for their quality and fair prices, Bill sent me home with a bottle of their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and a restraining order. I have to say for $23 this is terrific Cabernet, and, I'll also add, a heck of a buy for free! Honestly, it beat the crap out of the '07 Murphy-Goode I wrote about a week ago, a wine at its same modest price point. The '06 Dry Creek has very nice black currant, black cherry, smoky character, modest tannins that are nicely integrated, just a kiss of oak, and a very pleasing finish. I like that its unpretentious nature mimics the unpretentiousness of the winery and the lovely Kim. If you see this wine at retail for around $20, you can't go wrong. Nice wine.
There, you see, I can write wine reviews without a single joke in them. My jokes are a lot like residual sugar in wine--mostly they are under the threshold of taste and very hard to detect.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"...With sometimes crude analogies and occasional droppings of f-bombs, Washam cleverly uses satire to expose the underbelly of the wine business. It's often hilarious stuff as long as you're not the one being lampooned. Washam takes no prisoners in skewering all that is silly, stupid, frustrating and pretentious about wine, and his favorite targets are other bloggers and writers. No one is immune."
--Linda Murphy in "Vineyard and Winery Management"
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity." --JancisRobinson.com
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."