What makes a wine great? Why am I asking you? Like you know anything about wine. First of all, do you have any goddam initials after your name? Like M.W., or M.S. or, the most influential of all, Jr.? No, didn't think so. Jackass. Who cares what your definition of great wine is? Besides, it was a rhetorical question, so if you answered, congratulations, you're now in the Go Fuck Yourself Club. I'll tell you what makes really great wine, and it's not how much pleasure it gives you, it's not how many points it got from some other jackass without letters after his name, and it's not imaginary crap like terroir. Man, I can't believe you think that shit matters. I don't know why you even bother to even think about wine in the first place. Go back to thinking about the stuff you usually think about, like Kate Middleton's tits, or sex with dolphins. Leave the wine thing to people that actually know what they're talking about. If you can think of any.
Natural wines are NOT great wines. Wow, that is so 2009. I suppose you're still on iPhone2. Loser. I already have iPhone14. Siri doesn't just have a voice, but put it in your pocket and discover the wonders of Siri Fleshlight. Now that's the kind of Jobs I'm talking about. And great wines have nothing to do with Authentic Wines. What the hell is Authentic Wine? And who is doing the authenticating? Does it have to pass a test on "Wines Roadshow" on PBS? That's just stupid. Every toy I had as a kid, everything I played with that wasn't part of my anatomy, was called "authentic." I learned when I was eight years old that "authentic" was code for "cheap crap." What's your excuse?
No, the greatest wines being produced today are Fringe Wines. Do yourself a favor and find a few of these amazing examples of Fringe Wines.
Tiny Chicks Wines Winemaker Les Statutory loves chicks. In fact, he only uses chicks in his winemaking. Grape clusters are made up of both larger berries, referred to as "hens," and smaller berries, called "chicks." In case you're wondering, the "roosters" are removed early in the season in a pruning called "cocksuckering." It's a specialized field, of course, but there is never a shortage of cocksuckerers in the wine business. Les works with a rare variety, Reverend Meunier, native to Korea. "Reverend Meunier loves chicks," says Statutory, "so I spend a lot of time removing the hens from each cluster before I destem and crush them. Wines made with hens are unnecessarily dilute, way less cluck for the buck. When you only use the chicks, as any good winery does, you get more color, more flavor and more satisfaction." His 2012 Reverend Meunier is very good. "I can release my 2012 because I bottle ferment my wines, which is the truly minimalist way to handle them. And I don't use cork either. What's cork but the bark of a tree? That's insane when you think about it. What else do you seal with a tree? What are we, beavers?" Instead of cork, Les has trained local swallows to seal the bottles in the same manner they build nests--with their saliva. "I like to think it makes spitting my wine redundant." It doesn't.
Nervous Breakdown Wines It's cliche to talk about stressing vines, but not when it comes to the way winemaker Flacido Domingo does it. "I'm looking for maximum concentration from my vines, not some pansy ass version of it. I show those vines who's the boss." As soon as his vineyards awaken from their long winter dormancy, Domingo is all over them. "First of all, I hire a guy from a collection agency to walk the rows and demand back rent. The guy doesn't let up. Even in the middle of the night he's out there. It's really stressful." Throughout the growing season, Flacido finds ways to stress the vines. "I don't really even like leaves," he says. "they're basically just in the way. I remove all but a couple from each plant just after the grapes are formed. Sure, I don't get the sort of ripeness they get at those big factory wineries where the wines taste like, ugh, fruit. But once the grape clusters reach veraison, it's too late to make good wine. Know what I do if my grapes start to turn color? I spray sunblock on them! That keeps them from turning color, and adds a nice aroma of aloe after fermentation." If you can find it, try the Nervous Breakdown 2011 Pinot Noir. "Man, I really stressed those vines--I told them a Mormon was going to win the White House, they'd no longer be of any use, and their social safety net will have disappeared. Even a plant knows that's certain death."
Rudolf Steiner wasn't the only lunatic with his own philosophy of farming. But while Biodynamics has been basking in its viticultural fifteen minutes of fame, the great wines are actually being made from vineyards being farmed Biodianetically, according to the principles set in place by L. Ron Hubbard. Many of these principles may seem crazy, such as burying IRS agents in the vineyard and harvesting by the cycle of Tom Cruise sham marriages, but the resulting wines can be stunning. The basic concept behind Biodianetics is that grapes are not native to the planet Earth, but were planted here by aliens from the planet Travolta, which revolves around itself. The grapes are under orders to conquer the human race, which they have successfully done in Western Civilization, and are about to do in the Far East. The Biodianetic farming philosophy centers around human slavery to the grape, with proponents convinced that their way of growing grapes and making wine is superior to everyone else's basically because it's a lot more work and weirder. When, really, it's only a lot more work and weirder.
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."