The first wine region I fell in love with outside of California was the Rhone Valley. All of it. I fell so hard I almost changed the spelling of my first name, but Valley Washam sounded stupid. I came sort of late to Cornas, after long love affairs with Chateauneuf-du-Pape (which, translated, means "new house of David Ortiz"), Hermitage and Cote-Rotie, but Cornas is a fascinating region. Cornas is a very small appellation (unlike Ricky Skaggs, who is a small Appalachian) where the wines are required to be 100% Syrah. The classic producers of Cornas are Auguste Clape and Noel Verset (Clape is sort of Pop Cornas, rather salty), a couple of old-timers who are nearing retirement (hell, they're both in their 80's, I think, so they're more accurately nearing the Grim Reaper--which, by the way, is not Kermit Lynch's nickname). But now there is Thierry Allemand, and he has begun to eclipse those old masters. Where Clape produces wines of great stature and impermeability, Allemand crafts Cornas that is ineffably elegant. For my recent birthday (Hello, Grim Reaper!), my wonderful and brilliant friend Samantha sent me three bottles of wine; the 2004 Allemand "Reynard" was one of them. Friends, this is brilliant Syrah. Allemand manages to escape the fierce tannins so commonly found in Cornas and produces a wine of great depth and balance. It seems clear he doesn't destem the fruit from the structure and mouthfeel. But you stick your nose in a glass of this and you are instantly engaged. It has great purity and power, waves of aromas and flavors. Over the course of the meal it smelled variously of blackberries, smoke, dried herbs, violets...Wow. Every sip commanded your attention with its fantastic richness and concentration and length. And, like all great wines, the last sip was the best. I taste a lot of Syrah, far too much of it from California, but I can't remember the last time I tasted one so intriguing and complex and beautiful.
Disclaimer: I received this wine as a birthday gift from a gorgeous woman. If your erection lasts more than four hours, call your doctor. Thank him
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
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"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
"...that guy Hosemaster has real talent...if you ask me sign him up for Comedy Central...he's the funniest guy since Adam Carolla's hilarious book...IN 50 YEARS WE WILL ALL BE CHICKS..."
"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."