FROM THE HOSEMASTER OF WINE VAULT
The first incarnation of HoseMaster of Wine, the one with the nudie cuties, has vanished into the great Internet Cloud. But I saved a few of those posts. Here's one from more than two years ago, without the photos...
I'm not really used to predicting trends, I usually set them. I am so often credited with creating the whole wine blog concept that it has become somewhat embarrassing, especially given how out of hand the whole wine blogging thing has become. I recently read a frightening statistic:A new wine blog is created every 15 seconds and the word "splooge" appears in them an average of twice. But 2008 is coming to a merciful close and so I'd like to highlight some of the year's top stories and emerging trends. This has been done to death on other wine blogs, but splooge on them.
One trend that hasn't changed--Parker followers line up for wines scoring more than 95 points. What the flock, these sheep dips have mutton to lose.
William Foley Buys More Famous Names
After acquiring Firestone and Sebastiani (Wow, way to go after mediocre wineries, Bill, what, was Korbel not for sale?) billionaire William Foley is about to announce the acquisition of another famous name. HoseMaster of Wine has learned that Foley has purchased James Laube. The price is rumored to be somewhere in the neighborhood of eleven dollars but may be as high as seventeen. Negotiations have been under way for some time now but the downturn in the economy sealed the deal. "I was going to purchase James Suckling," Foley was quoted as saying, "but, frankly, I didn't want to take on all the little Sucklings. I think James Laube got out at the right time and I'm happy to have acquired him. These kinds of critics only come up for sale every so often and I think it's imperative you own a couple when you're in the winery business." James Laube will be fully refurbished; his column in Wine Spectator, always for sale, was included in the deal.
Wineries Turning to Biodegradable Farming
First it was Organic, then it was Biodynamic, now the trend that appears to be the next logical step in viticulture is Biodegradable. Created by a cousin of Rudolf Steiner, Henny Steiner, the fundamental tenet of Biodegradism is that vines grow healthier and produce better grapes if you constantly degrade them. Vineyard managers spend a few hours each day belittling the vines using eight basic "tease." "You call that fruit, you piece of mutant genetic material," one such tease goes, "I've seen better set on a twelve-year-old girl." Followers believe the vines respond to these jibes, that it adds to the plant's stress, and they then feel the need to produce better fruit. "It's amazing," says famed vineyard manager Phil Oxera, "just weeks after I told my vines, 'You louse-infested pieces of garbage wouldn't even make a bonfire good enough to warm Robert Parker's ass,' the little shits started producing the most gorgeous clusters." Biodegradism also believes in using a lunar calendar to determine what days are best for insulting the plants. "It makes no sense," writes Henny Steiner, "to give the vines the finger during a new moon. No, a new moon is when you urinate into a cow horn and pour it over their fucking heads."
Bottles are so last year! Corks are so last year! Last year is so last year! In their never ending search to improve wine quality and figure out ways to fool Alcohol Control Boards in non-reciprocal states, wineries are experimenting with many new and different containers. "Most consumers, frankly, are sick of the problems glass can cause in their expensive wines," says consumer expert Frank Lee Bloated. "Once you've had a bunch of 'glassed' wines you start looking at alternatives." Aside from the jejune boxes and cans, wineries are looking at several other possibilities. A couple of French biodynamic wineries will soon be packaging their wines in goat bladders. "At first we just made the goats drink 750 ml of wine then butchered them and, voila, the wine was in its vessel," says winemaker P. Chevre, "but then we figured out it was easier to kill them first." As a bonus, the bladders are reusable as party favors. Other wineries are looking at giant latex condoms. "My wines smell like mercaptans anyway," says longtime winery owner Kult Winery, "so the condoms make it seem normal." One drawback--they always burst when you least want them to--ain't that how most of us got here? Look for wineries to keep looking for new vessels for their wines in 2009, perhaps even cloth bags similar to the ones all the self-righteous people haul into supermarkets!
Wine Bloggers Continue Self-Deception
I call it the Blogger Bubble. As wineries become more and more desperate to sell wine in a struggling economy, even the most ridiculous ideas take hold. Hoping that wine blogs will one day actually sell wine rather than solicit it, winery marketing directors have encouraged bloggers to believe that their recommendations, based essentially on their stupid opinions, have commercial value. This in turn convinces bloggers that what they've long wished for may actually be coming true, which leads to endless posts about the power of the new media (roughly equivalent to the power of gerbils in an exercise wheel), which makes wineries nervous that it just might be true so their marketing people pay even MORE attention to bloggers...and, well, that's how the Blogger Bubble inflates. Watch for this bubble to get bigger than Gary Vaynerchuk's stubbly head in 2009, but disappear in a resounding crash in 2010 that will make the 45,000 wine bloggers and their 38 accumulated readers gratefully vanish.