Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dysfunctional Family Winemakers

If there's one tasting I look forward to the most eagerly each year, it's the American and International Dysfunctional Family Winemakers tasting ("AInt Dysfun?, as it's known in the trade). There's an electricity in the air unmatched at any other event in the wine biz, except maybe the annual Capital Punishment affair held by William Foley in the majestic ballroom at San Quentin when he executes the staff of a new winery he's purchased. And he spares no expense on the food--it's Last Meal for everybody! But there are so many wineries represented at AInt Dysfun? that it would be impossible to taste at every table. (Unless you're Alder Yarrow. But he has a distinct advantage over ordinary humans. Just ask him.) I usually try to visit a few of my favorite Dysfunctional Family Wineries, after all, who can pass up a chance to visit with Gina Gallo and Jean-Charles Boisset, the poster children for AIn't Dysfun?, but spend the majority of my time tasting at Dysfunctional Family wineries that are new to me. I don't spend a lot of time here at HoseMaster of Wine reviewing wine, mostly because you babies whine when I do, but I came across some extraordinary wines at AInt Dysfun that I thought you should seek out.

There's something really inspiring about the wines from Overly Affectionate Family Vineyards. First of all, I don't think I've ever seen so many people working at one table before at a tasting. Seventeen members of the Overly family were present to share their wines. They had formed a long daisy chain of holding hands, so only Tricia Overly, the matriarch of the family, who was standing on the end, had a free hand to serve their wines. I was curious about how such a physically affectionate family got into the wine business, but Tricia's answers were constantly interrupted by her children kissing her repeatedly on the mouth. That didn't bother me. But breastfeeding at a trade show is crossing a line! Though I was curious why her son's beard stubble didn't irritate her. I was impressed with the Overly Affectionate 2009 "Come Here and Kiss Me" Chardonnay. When I asked Bennett Overly what made it so distinct, he looked up from where he was nuzzling his eldest daughter's neck and told me that the secret to Overly Affectionate Family wines was "skin contact, and lots of it." I don't come from an overtly affectionate family, so it was refreshing to see a family so openly touching and kissing and sharing physical comfort, so obviously proud of their family and wines. "There's a little bit of me in all my wines," Bennett told me, "and a little bit of me in all my kids too." Yeah, I guess.

After the Overly Affectionate Family wines I rushed over to wash my hands, then taste at the table where some friendly guys were serving My Sister's Underwear Drawer wines. You just can't get more dysfunctional than that! Each label features a lovely engraving of a different pair of the Bagg brothers', Scum and Doosh, sister's panties. Reminiscent of the Harlan Estate labels, except Harlan Estate's Scratch 'n' Sniff smells like money. I asked Doosh where the name of the winery originated. You don't want to know. First, I tasted the My Sister's Underwear Drawer 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon "Edible." The nose was slightly fecal, and the flavors were distinctly earthy, so I might have mistaken it for a Santa Barbara Cabernet. The My Sister's Underwear Drawer 2008 "G-String" Pinot Noir was my favorite. The wine simply glides between your cheeks. Doosh told me the wine is 100% Pommerde clone grown in very chalky soil. "What I'm really looking for in these wines is the same thing I look for in my sister's underwear drawer," Doosh told me, expression of soil..."

As a person who thinks the whole wine and food pairing culture is stupid, it was refreshing to taste with the folks at Domaine Eating Disorder. Siblings Ann O'Rexia and Bill Emia were candid in their views. "Food, in general, is disgusting," Ann told me, "and has no place at the dinner table." As dysfunctional family members, you would expect Bill to disagree with his sis, "Well, I love food, and lots and lots of it. Anyone who doesn't eat his weight in trans-fats a day is just not enjoying life. But wine with food? Don't make me puke." Hard to argue with winemakers who make such remarkable wines. The Domaine Eating Disorder 2009 "Kate Moss" Sauvignon Blanc was predictably lean and acidic, though Bill admired its bounty of grapefruit, melons and Fig Newtons on the palate. Actual Fig Newtons. In every bottle Bill was able to add a yummy cookie due to a loophole in the TTB regulations that allows Nabisco products in certain wines. (There are Oreo cookies in the Eating Disorder Zinfandel from Lodi, but you can't really tell--it's Lodi Zin, after all.) Bill's favorite is the Domaine Eating Disorder 2006 "The Vomitorium" Gruner Veltliner. "If this doesn't make you Smaragd up your dinner, I don't know what will."

It seemed appropriate to end the AInt Dysfun Tasting at the most sought-after cult wine table with dozens of fellow wine bloggers clamoring for a taste of Personal Failure Wines. Personal Failure's concept is to bring together people who have never been successful enough to have pleased their parents under one roof to make wine. Each bottle has a back label that briefly explains how the winemaker disappointed his mother or father, or both. For example, here's what it says on the back of Personal Failure 2007 "You Married That Slut" Cabernet:

2007 was the year I married my wife Betty over the objections of my mother who told me I was marrying Betty because I was inadequately endowed and Betty was the first whore who said Yes, and that Betty was certain to take many lovers and a mockery of me, and that I shouldn't even think about running back home when Betty dumped me because she'd already be dead after turning the shotgun on Dad first, What was there to live for? This is my tribute to her. I hope you enjoy it. And, thanks, Betty, it was fun.

The stories are compelling, and so are the wines. It seemed that each blogger had a Personal Failure wine he could identify with, and this, along with the astounding quality of the wines, made under the supervision of personal failure Tim Mondavi, is what creates the historic demand for these wines. Here's another, this from the back label of Personal Failure 2008 "You'll Never Amount to Anything" Chardonnay:

I dedicate this wine to my Father, Leonard, who, from the time I was a little girl, told me I would never amount to anything. And now, after a stalled career as a surrogate mother for endangered Amazon River tribes, five failed marriages, three failed suicide attempts, and one failed souffle, I want my Father to try my 2008 Chardonnay, which was aged 10 months in Ethan Allen oak and was bottled unfined, unfiltered and sadly unloved.

You can understand why the Personal Failure table was so busy. Personal Failure speaks to us all.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ethics? Ethics? We Don't Need No Stinking Ethics

Ask any wine blogger what the biggest roadblock to success in the wine business is and he'll undoubtedly answer, "Ethics." Stupid, useless ol' ethics. And not because he believes in ethics, that's clearly a waste of time, much like reading wine blogs published east of the Mississippi, but because there are not guidelines to these imaginary ethics. Just where are the lines that one isn't supposed to cross? And where are the lines one is supposed to obey? And the ones they promised me I could snort? You start a wine blog for purposes of personal gain, get a little bit of notoriety, and, BANG, someone goes and ruins the whole thing by bringing up ethics. You win a Wine Blog Award, an achievement equal to passing your driver's license exam without the actual driving test, and some ethics cop, some self-appointed moron of morality, some pompous penis of principles, comes along and points out you were a judge in the competition. All because of ethics! How stupid is that? What does it matter that you were a judge? You won fair and square! There are no ethics on the Internet. The Internet wasn't created so that the cretins of conscience could ruin it for everybody! The Internet can't survive if you expect ethical behavior. What sort of an idiot thinks that? No, the Internet was created so that we can do anything we fucking want to do and not have to answer for it. Christ, it's so obvious.

Nonetheless, ethical guidelines are sorely needed in the wine blog world, if only to know what to ignore. It's tiresome to go to all the trouble of writing a wine blog yet not get the satisfaction of knowing that you're absolutely unethical. I've been giving this issue a lot of thought. OK, I'm actually just making this up off the top of my head, but that's what you're supposed to do when you're blogging--make shit up as you go along. It's what all the top bloggers do. It's how they got to the top. Once again, it's the Internet. What does it matter whether what I write is thoughtful or original or, God forbid, accurate? Only the addlepated, dimwitted, thunderstruck and the anencephalic believe what they read on the Internet. Though that is the core group that reads Palate Press. Anyhow, I have given this issue great thought and now present the core set of Ethics for Wine Bloggers. I'll thank you to follow them.

Free Stuff

This is simple. You're entitled to it. You've got a wine blog, you work at it every day, you're on your journey to discover wine, wineries are supposed to send you samples. And if they don't, wineries can be incredibly stupid about not sending out enough free wine to the people, wine bloggers (duh), who will determine their very existence, just call them up and ask them for it! It's your ethical responsibility to ASK THE GODDAM WINERIES TO SEND YOU YOUR WINE. And don't make the egregious mistake of not telling them your shirt and hat sizes--they'll want to send you swag and can be very pouty if you don't seem to want any.

You are not obligated to report to your readers that the wines you review on your blog were sent to you for free. Who made that up? If you're using them, get rid of your stupid disclaimers. It's no one's fucking business where you got the wine from! The only things that matter are that you liked the wine, that it paired well with the lavish dinner the winery treated you to, and, above all, what kind of closure it had. No one needs to know you didn't pay a nickel for it. What kind of a lousy world would this be if we had to reveal every goddam thing we get for free? The whole country would devolve into anarchy. The IRS would be buried in paperwork. Hookers and pimps don't report their income! Explain to me the difference between wine bloggers and hookers and pimps! Yeah, pimps drive nicer cars, but other than that. Sure, unlike wine bloggers, hookers spit, but other than that. It's outrageous. Your ethical obligation is to say nice things about the wineries that give you free stuff, and only nice things. First off, you're not really qualified to judge wines, so why would you risk appearing stupid and ridicule that Moscato d'Asti for having some sort of chemical problem that makes it fizzy? Just say something nice, you got it for free, didn't your mother teach you to say thank you? This is so obvious, I wonder why it has to be said. Sheesh.


Again, this is simple. Everything you can think of, especially you, to say about wine has been said before and said far better than your miserable vocabulary allows you to say. Oh, goody, you discovered Aglianico, a wine that's been around for thousands of years but you're the first one to notice it's pretty good wine if you like that Southern Italian crap even though the ones they're starting to make in California are sooo much better. Great. Fascinating. I'm quivering with excitement. Believe me, everything you have to say about Aglianico, the grape and the free bottle of wine you're talking about, and every other wine, has been said more articulately and more eloquently. And yet, it is your ethical responsibility to bring the level of discussion down to where the kind of dolts who read wine blogs can understand it. Your job is to educate the poor slobs who know less than you about wine, the fools who've only been learning about wine for eight months when you've been reading Lettie Teague for years, the sad group of humans who don't know what to buy when they're shopping at BevMo and someone has torn down the Wilfred Wong recommendations and put up pictures of kitties instead, though the kitties would be more useful than Wilfred for explaining the crap BevMo sells. Your job is to say, in very simple phrases and poor English, what has been said before. This is how wine blogs work. Don't go trying to be original. Really. This is important. Just look at the top wine blogs. See anything original? No. Take a hint. Figure it out. Genius.

And when you're not reviewing wines or writing about your annoying children or filling your pointless blog with more links than a Jimmy Dean warehouse, you can always plug local events. After all, your eleven readers really want to know about the $150 per ticket Insipid Producers of Oregon Tasting with music by Celine Dion impersonator, Celine Dion. It it your ethical responsibility to post as often as possible without regard to meaningful content. Try to see your wine blog as spam. The meat, not the junk mail. You call that meat? You call that writing?

When reviewing wines that you don't really understand or you are incapable of describing, it is
perfectly ethical to simply quote from the fact sheet the winery provided, or reword the back label. There's no need to try to make up descriptors when the correct ones are right in front of you! The only ethical responsibility you have is to make certain no one knows you've borrowed from someone else's work. That would be misguided and can only lead to uncertainty and chaos. Better yet, why not just skip the stupid description and simply assign the wine a score? Scores cannot be questioned, and make lovely graphics besides. Lately, wine bloggers have begun to use badges instead of scores. I am completely in favor of this trend. Poodles becoming badgers. After all, both wine bloggers and badgers are in the weasel family.
Best New Wine Blog Nominess 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Tweet Smell of Excess

I am frequently asked why I don't have a Twitter account. I don't have any use for Twitter. Twitter is like an Ionesco play--140 characters searching hopelessly for meaning. Twitter is hundreds of thousands of minds without a single thought. It's the viewing audience for the Super Bowl with keyboards. Twitter fills the universe with mindless chatter, allowing everyone to be Maury Povich or Jerry Springer or a troop of baboons. It reflects the culture in ways that aren't especially flattering; it's a funhouse mirror that distorts reality and makes small minds seem large and the trivial seem important. Aside from reading
HoseMaster of Wine, is there a bigger waste of time than Twitter? Sure, there's watching "Eat Pray Love," two hours of comma-tose (I preferred the Japanese original "Eat Play Rove"), and there's reading Lettie Teague, but not much else. Twitter is vuvuzelas played rectally. So don't expect to see the ol' HoseMaster on Twitter any time soon.

But if I were on Twitter, this might be what I'd Tweet...

@JayMcInerney Hmmm, JLoBrow, glad you loved Inception--not sure how much Cab Phelps put in it in '07.

DrinkNectar has something really important to say--"He's important!"

Love the new look over at Catavino! Like putting lipstick on a corpse!

WS admits mixup, put Meg Whitman on cover of "California's Greatest Winemaker" issue.

@HelenTurley I know! I can't believe WS insulted you. You're the Greatest Winemaker in The WORLD!

@JLaube I think she's buying it. I'll take a case of Marcassin Pinot Noir. I use it in my Prius every 5000 miles.

Can't wait for my new issue of Mutineer Magazine! Love how they never use words with more than three syllables.

@JayMcInerney Gamay is the grape used for Beaujolais. Camay is soap. Ellie May was on Beverly Hillbillies. Nitpickers!

Burying cowhorns in a vineyard to make better wine is like putting manure in a toreador's pants for a better bullfight.

@MarvinShanken Is that a Cigar in your mouth, or do you just really like racehorses?

Just loved the Vegan Wine Tasting today, sponsored by Natural Gas. You are what you eat!

@StephenTanzer You have a magazine???! Did you hear Parker's dead? Dr. Miller attending physician.

Catavino nominated for European Wine Blog Award in category Best Judges to Win European Wine Blog Award.

@LettieTeague Yeah, I know, he's pompous, but look at it this way, he makes you seem knowledgeable!

@JayMcInerney Yeah, I know, she's dull, but look at it this way, she makes you seem

@GaryV Sure, I do remember your grandfather. Madman Muntz! Shame you don't have his class.

@HuckleberryJackson Just because "Matanzas" means "slaughterhouse" doesn't mean...

William Foley has announced his purchase of Wine Enthusiast magazine for $100 and a Fred Furth bobblehead doll.

@WilliamFoley Oh, well, easy mistake to make. He's the same size as a bobblehead doll.

@HuckleberryJackson Suggested brands to buy and ruin--Caymus, Silver Oak, Steve Heimoff.

@HuckleberryJackson Sorry, hadn't heard about STEVE! Congrats. "Heimoff" means "homeless" in German.

@SteveH Really? As in "Heimoff to see the Wizard?" Loved the "Lollipop Guild!"

@JayMcInerney Rupert called. Wants you to write expose of Free Radicals in Wine. Excoriate the liberal bastards!!!

@JayMcInerney Means "denounce"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Faint Aroma of Goat Bladder


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."

Wine Vessels
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.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Healthy Brown Movement

Interest in the fabulous wines of Carbon Footprint (Wine Enthusiast, for example, recently scored their 2008 "Offshore Oil Spill" Chardonnay at 96 points, though no one reads Wine Enthusiast except the proofreaders and people in waiting rooms at psychiatric hospitals) has also spawned great interest in the fledgling Brown Movement in wine. (And it's easy for a consumer to actually smell the Brown Movement in a wine--so many wines proudly do.) The tiresome histrionics of those who would have us believe that natural or organic or BioDynamic wines are better than real wines, and better for you, has led to this natural backlash. The Brown Movement is dedicated to saving the world from the Feiringization of wines (named for wine writer and librarian impersonator Alice Feiring who has tirelessly and admirably crusaded for natural wines while suffering from dysgeusia) and the sissification of the wine industry itself, and to promoting the use of as much of the world's natural resources as possible before those loser Millennials take over and ruin the fun for the rest of us. The Millennials are a seriously dull lot.

The recently formed Brown Movement Society (Motto: Have you enjoyed BM'S today?) is an association made up of Brown wineries, Brown PR people and UPS drivers (why just this morning I could be heard chanting, "Go Big Brown!" during my morning ablutions), among others, who have joined together to promote the awakening of the Brown wine industry. They seem to have tapped into the American wine consumer's dreams and desires, and the Brown Movement is gaining in popularity. Though some might say the Brown Movement was simply waiting for the proper peristaltic moment to make its big splash.

The Brown Movement Society has put together a list of wineries that are Certified Brown. Becoming Certified Brown is an arduous process and the list of requirements is lengthy and demanding. In brief, the consumer can rest assured that any wine purchased from a Certified Brown winery was produced with only one goal in mind--making a great wine at the expense of the environment! We've come to expect this from so many industries, from McDonald's admirable devotion to destroying rain forests (do you know how many creepy insects lived there that might have infested Ronald McDonald Houses?), to DeBeers making every bride proud of the exploitation of poverty-ridden and starving Africans with that shiny thing on her finger, to the automobile industry's devoted destruction of the oceans and Alaskan tundra (but at least Toyota had the class to name a truck "Tundra"--which is like naming a nuclear weapon "Hiroshima"), so why not hold the wine industry to the same standard of excellence?

I recently attended the first Brown Movement tasting at Fort Mason in SF (which was organized at the behest of Alder Yarrow, who was kind enough to let others attend), Consume Resources Advocates and Producers, and I came away impressed by a good, healthy CRAP. I won't try and list my scores of all the wines there, (for an overview, check out Alder's Vornography website for his evaluation of all 548 wines presented during the three hour tasting) but I thought I'd provide a quick overview of a couple of the wineries I found most impressive, both for the quality of their wines and for their dedication to the Brown Movement.

I was happy to see my old friend Bowie Teak of Bowie Teak Winery there serving wines from his eponymous winery in Napa Valley. (Bowie made his fortune from his invention Boner in a Can see my April post on Bowie Teak, and has a new product out which is also sure to add to his fortune, an instant breast enlargement product called Titsicles!) Boo explained briefly how he had always been into the Brown Movement, he just didn't know it. "After all, HoseMaster, I hired David Aboo to design my vineyard to maximize soil erosion, his specialty, and I very carefully tented my 250 acres and fumigated it for a couple of weeks to make sure every damn microbe and bug was dead. The key to making great Cabernet Sauvignon is environmental exploitation--death makes us stronger." Wise words from Boo, and, indeed, his Bowie Teak Winery 2007 "Where the Dead Things Are" (Artist Label Series by Maurice Sendak) Pritchard Hill Cabernet is a perfect expression of the the classic Napa Valley Boutique Winery terroir--black currant and cassis fruit followed by the definitive soullessness that these wines are famous for. At $250/bottle it's a bit steep, but so's the hillside vineyard that's mostly slipped into Lake Hennessey; and the wine comes in a 15 pound bottle designed by Waterford guaranteed to pump lead into your guest's bloodstream, so you get your money's worth.

At the table serving the vibrant and aromatic wines of Toxic Runoff Vineyards I had a chance to speak to its owner, the opinionated Murky Rivers. "I have 200 acres, and I own all of it. If I want to flush chemicals and fertilizer into my creek, who's to stop me? " Murky told me. "I'm damned proud of my wines, and damned proud to have cleared the creek down to the lowest critter on the food chain. Say, have you had my Chardonnay with trout? Mighty fine eatin'" Indeed, the Toxic Runoff 2008 "Acid Rain" Chardonnay was amazing. "The secret," Murky told me, "was how often we turned on the irrigation in the vineyard. Lots of folks are stingy with water, and the vines don't like it. We run the big overhead sprinklers day and night during the growing season to help the vines. And, as a bonus, it also washes all the pesticides into the creek." Murky is justifiably proud of the waste of water, and the water waste, that every bottle of Toxic Runoff represents. And, on a personal note, he was also proud of his Siamese triplet grandsons, who he was using as a table decoration to hold his business cards and brochures.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wine Bloggers You Can Trust

I was under the apparently false illusion that I had discovered Carbon Footprint Wines. I got suckered into publishing some of their marketing material because I believed I had scooped the wine blogging community. Foolish me. As if I could outwit the parade of brilliant bloggers the Internet has to offer, those titans of wine journalism. Oh, the hubris, the hubris, my aching hubris. I was surfing the blogs, if one can surf in what amounts to a Poodle puddle, and, lo and behold, everyone is talking about Carbon Footprint! Some sort of mass mailing of samples had occurred that gave the top bloggers something to write about, and UPS guys hernias. I've taken the liberty of quoting a few of them here.

SwirlSmellSlurp (Best New Wine Blog, Same as Best Old Wine Blog)

Pinot Noir, "Screw the Ozone," Carbon Footprint, 2008 (sample, retails for $65)

She said: Delightful and Decadent, the heavy bottle reminds me of one of Mannfred's Sine Qua Non bottles, which I can say because I know Mannfred and he admires my palate and I helped him start his winery. Initially, the wine comes across as floral, but the flowers give way to huckleberry, Bartlett pear (Josiah, not the Familiar Quotations guy--damn, my nose is discerning!), and pluots. The wine has a lot of heat, not just a little heat, damned Al Gore kind of heat, but it's the heat that carries it. If the bottle were a bit heavier and the wine a little higher alcohol, it could be Sine Qua Non, a winery I'm very familiar with, did I mention?

He said: I was pretty sure this was Merlot when I first smelled it, but then I thought, why would they put Merlot in a ten-pound Burgundy bottle? It was definitely red in the glass though, so that got me confused. On the palate it was red too, with white undertones. It tasted a lot like red wine and I liked it. Definitely a wine I'd drink for free again because I'm all for climate change because it's really hot here today. Do I seem drunk to you? You'll never guess what I'm rating it because I have my own opinions, really I do, that's what makes us so important.

BiggerThanYourHead (Best Wine Reviews and Little Else)

You'd never know the Carbon Footprint 2007 "Amazing Hurricane Season" Cabernet Franc was made from grapes farmed irresponsibly. I wouldn't have known if they hadn't bragged about being part of the fledgling Brown Movement, a Movement I believe I had this morning. Dedicated to the pursuit of the end of civilization as we know it through the frivolous use of chemicals and fossil fuels, clearly someone at Carbon Footprint knows how to make wine. Now I'm going to tell you exactly what it smells and tastes like, and you can take my description to the bank. I'll be certain to explain my precise terminology so that you can follow along. I make it an iron-clad rule to talk down to my readers, though what choice do I have? Intial aromas of macerated cherries and oolong tea lead to tertiary aromas (aromas from the tertia) of powdered cufflinks and Certs, but without the Retsin. In the mouth, the wine is layered and warm, like my Brown movement this morning, and displays a fascinating sense of doom, which comes from the barriques (or "barrels") which are made from heirloom plantings of oaks from now completely logged and barren forests. Drink now through the Rapture.

Jay McInerny On Wine (Who Says Ignorant Bloggers Can't Get Paid to Write)

We had friends over for a simple meal over the weekend. Bill Gates was looking trim and fit, fashionably skinny like he was a citizen of one of the Third World countries he and the lovely Melissa are always trying to save from themselves. And how handy that they'd brought immunizations for dysentery for everyone. Mick was feeling full of himself and insisted I turn him on to the wines I'd be praising in next week's WSJ column so that he wouldn't be shut out when he tried to buy them. I told Sir Mick that I'd be waxing rhapsodic about the great wines of Carbon Footprint, and that we'd be having some with dinner. The old queen Sir Ian laughed in that funny way of his I adore, as though Zelda Fitzgerald were there with us in spirit having recognized me as rightful heir to her husband's literary legacy.

I'd been turned on to Carbon Footprint by Larry Ellison. It was on his private jet that I first tried the Carbon Footprint "Revenge of the Dinosaurs" Chardonnay and it was a revelation. Why can't all California Chardonnays be this amazing? I was reminded of the great Chardonnays of J.J. Prum, but, perhaps this was not as oaky. I decided to accept samples from Carbon Footprint, though I confess I felt bad refusing their requests for autographed books in return because that violates WSJ's policy of never giving anyone anything.

I was very impressed by one of the wines that I served at our casual meal, the Carbon Footprint "Creeping Deforestation" Grenache, a grape I was unfamiliar with. It reminded me of a good Burgundy, maybe from Joguet, though it wasn't nearly ready to drink. I remarked that I felt like I'd committed infanticide, which inexplicably offended Melissa Gates. As I once said in my best-selling novel, "Bright Lights, Big City," "Fuck her."

WSJ readers will be pleased to learn that Carbon Footprint Wines eschews organics and other cultish Green viticultural practices in favor of massive resource consumption. My boss, Rupert, will be pleased to know that, after Sir Ian is through buggering him.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Introducing Carbon Footprint Wines

It certainly seems like every winery on the planet is jumping on the Green band wagon in an effort to sell wine. Organic, BioDynamic, Vegan, Techron, OxyContin, Martinized, Fleet--these are the words now commonly found on bottles of wine and in winery marketing brochures. All in an effort to convince wine buyers that not only will the wine get you trashed, but you can get stinko with a clean conscience. And, really, it takes so little effort on the consumer's part, requires virtually nothing except you believe what it says on the bottle, and you can spend all evening congratulating yourself that you've done your part to save the environment. Not like the BioDynamic winemaker who's flying off to South America, as he does several times a year, after Harvest to consult, and help make their vineyards "green." Luckily, United Airlines uses BioDynamic jet fuel. And it's not like you have to drive a fuel-efficient car, for God's sake, that's insane. Every 105 lb. woman needs to drive a four-ton SUV. For safety, dammit! But I shop at the farmer's market, and my wine is made by BioDynamic monks who never kill European grapevine moths
, they just capture them, thank them in French for their love of vineyards, and release them in their neighbor's non-organic vineyard where they'll be Dow-chemicaled to death. It's a win-win.

However, I have recently come across one winery that is bucking the Green trend, a winery following its own unenlightened path.


Our motto at Carbon Footprint Wines is "A bigger footprint gets us closer to our destination." We believe that climate change is real and unstoppable. And while others see this as a negative, we see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to speed up climate change, get this whole thing over with, end the suspense and get right down to extinction. We're not killing the whole planet; Nature will survive, it always does, we're just killing off ourselves, the human race, an entirely worthy goal. When you open a bottle of our Carbon Footprint wines you can rest assured that we've done everything possible to not only make the wine delicious and satisfying, but we've also done everything we can to have degraded our natural resources and contribute to greenhouse gases. You have our word.

In order to produce the finest wines possible, grapes need to have the least competition possible. Every insect or weed, every living thing in the vineyard, detracts from the vines. This is simple scientific fact. At Carbon Footprint, we spray every single available herbicide, pesticide and fungicide over and over again until the only living thing in the vineyard is the grapevine. We've even contracted with the state of Arizona to have them ship us their suspected illegal immigrants to work in our vineyards where they spray without the benefit of masks and hazardous gear and soon cease to be a problem. The result? Award-winning Cabernet! Yes, Senator John McCain has given us an Arizona Medal of Freedom for our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon "Wetback Reserve."

And that's not all we do here at Carbon Footprint Wines. We make sure and plant on our steepest hillsides for the best soil erosion results, leeching lots of chemicals into our local streams and ridding them of annoying piscine pests. Hillside vines make for fabulous Carbon Footprint Zinfandel, which sucks with fish anyway. And we recently dynamited our caves and built a gigantic air-conditioned warehouse so that you can be certain that every bottle of Carbon Footprint Chardonnay will be in perfect condition after its stay in our electricity-guzzling storage facility. And, luckily, the cave was where so many of our Arizona friends were living!

Naturally, every bottle of Carbon Footprint wine weighs several pounds. Many people will believe that we use a freakishly heavy bottle for marketing purposes, to try and make our wines seem more serious, more valuable. But that's not the case. We use heavy bottles to drive up the consumption of fuel in the various vehicles used to deliver it, and, of course, to prove we have a bigger penis than anyone in the wine business. Just try to pick up a bottle of Carbon Footprint "Adios Coho" Zinfandel with one hand! Don't hurt yourself! It's a Hernia in a Glass. In God We Truss! A case of these babies weighs more than your ego-, oh, sorry, eco-friendly Prius. It has a bottom you can fit a cake in. A Bundt punt. But, please, we're begging you, don't recycle it. Why not just toss it through your neighbor's solar panels?

We do hope you choose Carbon Footprint wines to serve to your friends and family. We're destroying the earth so you don't have to.

Here are some recent reviews from notable wine bloggers:

"The Carbon Footprint 2007 "Polar Burial" Sauvignon Blanc is really, really good and shows the grape's typical aromas of gunpowder, nasal spray and RAID! It's brilliant! The music to go with it is Baby Got Back by Sir Mixalot." This sample was provided by the winery in the knowledge that I would praise it. --Wine Hurl Lots

"A complete surprise to me was the quality of the 2007 Carbon Footprint "What Glaciers?" Merlot. I know Merlot isn't the most popular drink right now, but this is far and away the nicest Merlot I've drunk through a straw (I couldn't lift the bottle) in months!" --Chaim Steveoff

"For the 2008 Carbon Footprint "Tribute to Roundup" Pinot Noir is farewell in a bottle. Farewell to my ancestors, upon whose shoulders I stood, before dandruff shampoo. Farewell to the beauty of the Adriatic, the bounty of the sea denuded and destroyed and delicious. Farewell to the stories of the old masters whose wisdom has been ignored in the making of this wine, a fine Pinot Noir that may almost be worth the degradation of this perilous planet we call home for now, but not for long. Farewell to the meals shared with grateful wineries who call me Jupiter. Farewell." --On the Wine Trail in Flipflops