"Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith."--Christopher Fry
Monday, September 30, 2013
The HoseMaster's Honest Guide to Grapes Vol. 3
I think I wrote seven volumes of The HoseMaster's Honest Guide to Grapes. It was always a solid premise, but coming up with endless material about grape varieties finally wore me down. In rereading a few of those volumes, one joke in Volume 3 made me laugh out loud, a rare occurrence, so I decided to republish it as Best of HoseMaster. So, here, from March of 2010, is one of the legendary volumes of The HoseMaster's Honest Guide to Grapes. (If you want to read the other six volumes, they can be found in my Compost Heap in the left column.)
There are lots of facts
about grape varieties, but what we're interested in on wine blogs is
opinions unsupported by facts. This is the great tradition of blogging,
and one I intend to uphold. Facts are so boring. This is why the
Internet was created, in order to end truth once and for all. Social
Media is all about muddying the truth, and that's why wineries are so
intent on hiring someone to do this for them on a daily basis. But I
digress. There are the bone dry facts about grape varieties--you can
look them up in Jancis Robinson's brilliant book "Vines, Grapes and
Wines," or you can go to Wikipedia and read the plagiarized version. But
when it comes to worthless opinions, I know you look to the HoseMaster of Wine. Let's explore a few more white varieties.
is some dispute about how to pronounce Viognier. In France, it's
vee-own-yay; in Texas, vee-og-near. I'm going with the Texans cuz
they're scarier and they hogtie Frenchmen and brand them. Smells a lot
like chicken when they do. It wasn't that many years ago that there were
but a few dozen acres of Viognier in the entire world, all of it in the
Northern Rhone appellations of Condrieu (KON-dry-u in Texan) and
Cote-Rotie. At the rate it's selling, in thirty years it will be back to
those same dozen acres in the world. Wine pundits predicted a few years
ago that Viognier would be the next Chardonnay, and they were right,
except they meant that it would be a popular wine instead of yet another
wine to heap scorn upon. The best thing about Viognier is how it
smells. The same is true for a leather thong. And the consumer knows
that when he purchases a Viognier he can be absolutely certain that
there is little chance he'll like it, though it does make a terrific gag
Interesting facts about Viognier:
is a long tradition in Cote-Rotie of mixing Viognier with Syrah in
order to give the wines some aromatic character when they're young. In
the New World, Viognier is added to natural gas to let you know when you
have a leak. The name
"Viognier" is thought to derive from the Austrian city of Vienna, and
refers to the men who drink it having tiny little sausages.
If you drink enough Viognier your breath will smell like your grandmother's girdle drawer.
Other names for Viognier:
My Mistake Green Lantern Sorry, Rhone Number
to popular belief, Pinot Gris is not what you call the smegma that
gathers if you're uncircumcised. That's Gruner Veltliner. Pinot Gris is
thought to be a mutant variety of Pinot Noir because, after drinking, it
often comes back to haunt you and chainsaw your children. Pinot Gris
goes by a slightly different name in Italy; there it's known as
Pellegrino. The best versions come from Alsace, where they used to put
"Tokay" in front of the name as a tribute to their favorite Little
Rascal, Buckwheat, who was a dark shade of Gris. (For a short time in
the 50's you could also buy Alfalfa Pinot Blanc.) In recent years,
Oregon has become the home of many Pinot Gris producers, lending
credence to the theory that Oregon is where you fly over from California
to get to Walla Walla.
Interesting facts about Pinot Gris:
Pinot Grigio is Italian for "print money."
theory holds that Pinot Gris is actually related to Ambergris. And
because ambergris originates in the intestine of the sperm whale, they
smell remarkably similar.
Pinot Gris is considered one of the Noble Grapes of Alsace, but this is a region that is often confused about nobility.
Other names for Pinot Gris:
Sex in a Rowboat Macy Gris Oregonade
Blanc is a variety of grape capable of producing great wines that no
one cares the least bit about. In California there was a time when
Charles Krug Chenin Blanc was on every wine list in every chain
restaurant in the country, which singlehandedly spelled Chenin Blanc's
demise. Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape, producing wines of every
type, from sparkling wines to dry wines, demi-sec wines to dessert
wines. So it's the Mel Gibson of grapes--doesn't matter if he acts,
directs or produces, nobody cares. However, Chenin Blanc is one of the
major grapes of the Loire Valley and, in particular, Anjou. Gesundheit.
Interesting facts about Chenin Blanc:
South Africa, Chenin Blanc is known as Steen. In Germany it's known as
Frankensteen. In Austria, it's called Mary Steenburgen.
Vouvray is famous for Chenin Blanc, and, oddly, is how people with a hairlip say the last word in Hip Hip Hooray!
Chenin Blanc is mentioned by Miss Manners as being the wine to bring to a person's house for dinner to ensure that you won't be invited back.
Other names for Chenin Blanc:
Wine Coulee Shannon Blank (porn name) Kruger Juice
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.
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Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
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