Monday, February 16, 2015
The HoseMaster Regrets the Errors
I am now willing to admit that I may have been exaggerating when I said that I was the person who made the Cabernet Sauvignon that won the 1976 Paris Tasting. I was once in Paris. Ms. Hilton was drunk and immobile at the time, but I may have confused that encounter with the Paris Tasting. I never meant to mislead the public. I was 21 years old the year the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine that won the Paris Tasting, was harvested, and being of legal drinking age at last may have become confused in my mind with making the wine. I’m sure you can understand why. In my defense, many Napa Valley winery owners claim to make their wines when, in fact, they have highly paid “consultants” that do the actual winemaking. So claiming to have made a wine that you actually didn’t make is a time-honored tradition in wine. Like disingenuously mentioning that your vineyard is right next to Screaming Eagle, implying that it must therefore be as good as Screaming Eagle. I may have been right next door to where the wine was being made, so I may have been the winemaker. I see now where people may have perceived my statement as a lie. I regret the error.
When I said that I was the first wine critic in the world to use the 100 Point Scale, I may have been confused. I thought of it first. You can ask my Mom. Well, she’s dead. But she was there the night I said to her, “You know what would really help people to know what wines to buy?” And Mom said, “A magazine that reviewed all the wines in the world and then recommended them with little Happy Faces?” (As an aside, my Mom at that moment invented Happy Faces—Fuck You, Walmart.) “No, Mom, a magazine that rated all the wines using a 100 Point Scale!” “Oh, son, that’s just stupid,” she said. And though she was right, and so I abandoned the idea, I guess in my head I thought I was the first wine critic to use the 100 Point Scale. I regret the error. And I’ve already apologized for losing my temper and killing Mom. Just how much longer do I have to keep saying I’m sorry? As a Mom she was a 98, but as her son, I used a .45.
Now that I think about it, it’s possible I haven’t won a James Beard Award eight years running. Yeah, that’s kind of silly. Even Tom Cruise has won only two Beards. I may have been thinking about the eight merkins I have, but those are Richard Beards. But if I had to guess, I think that I confused my Nobel Prize for Wine Writing and my seven Pulitzers in my trophy room for Beard Awards. I know this sounds like a stretch, but if you’d ever seen my trophy room, you’d understand. It’s really dusty. And, really, I’ve been nominated for, like, 57 Wine Blog Awards, which you can cash in for a James Beard Award at a Wine Idea Recycling Center (otherwise known as Palate Press). I just haven’t had the time because I’m running for President. I regret the error.
I unequivocally stand by my assertion that I write under the pseudonym “HoseMaster of Wine™.” I have ample evidence to prove that assertion. However, and, again, I regret any inadvertent confusion it may have caused, I may have mistakenly claimed to have written under the name “Michael Broadbent.” I most certainly didn’t write the erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey Riesling” under that name. I may have accidentally left out a word in writing about an episode where I wrote the word “Blowhard” under the name Michael Broadbent in an issue of Decanter. In which case I also write under the name “Andrew Jeffords.” Also, there has been some confusion concerning an interview I did with CBS News where I may have said that I’d published 42 wine books using the name “Jancis Robinson.” I simply misspoke. I meant to say “Jackie Robinson,” who famously wore the number 42. Jancis Robinson never broke the color barrier, though she fucked up a glass ceiling once. Boy, can that girl spit. I stand behind the fact that I first translated the works of Emile Peynaud to English, though I’m a bit abashed that my original translation of “The Taste of Wine” was “Wine Gave Me Gout.”
I never intended for people to believe that I created biodynamics. I apologize to the Steiner family. I was the guy who told Mr. Steiner, “Why don’t you take your bullshit and bury it in your fucking vineyard,” but I see now that that doesn’t give me the right to say I came up with the idea. I regret the error.
I may have written that I was the high bidder at the Napa Valley Wine Auction. In hindsight, I might have been confused because I did pay a lot of money for a glass of Caymus Cabernet at the Meadowood Lounge one day, and there was an energetic game of Ping Pong being played nearby. I did attend the Napa Valley Wine Auction, but I only bid on a special Caribbean Wine Cruise with Robert Wagner—they only serve wine with no Wood. So, let’s get this right, I was not the high bidder at the Napa Valley Wine Auction. I regret the error.
When I said on “Late Night with David Letterman” that I was the first person to pass the Master of Wine exam, the Master Sommelier exam, and a tapeworm on the first try, I wasn’t being dishonest, I had simply misread some correspondence. The first two had told me to “blow it out your ass” when I took their exams, and I confused that with the tapeworm. I believe I may have inadvertently asserted that I had identified blind all twenty wines in the Master of Wine exam absolutely perfectly. Upon review, I realize I identified the First Growth Bordeaux as “Lee Harvey Oswald.” I regret the error.
I recently sat in on a Merlot tasting. The results aren’t especially interesting. But the tasting made me wonder what happened to my love for Merlot. I can still remember the excitement that surrounded the release of the first Duckhorn Merlots, especially the ’78 Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot. Before that bottling, Merlot in California boiled down to Clos du Bois and Rutherford Hill and Markham—hardly thrilling wines, but well-made and successful. Duckhorn changed the landscape of Merlot in California, really lifted Merlot into the same conversation as Cabernet Sauvignon, where it belonged. Not long after Duckhorn, along came Newton, Matanzas Creek, St. Clement and Shafer, among others. I still think the ’87 Matanzas Creek Merlot, made by David Ramey, was one of the best Merlots from California I ever tasted. But the memory of an old romance can be deceptive. They become more beautiful in your mind than they really were, the experience more sensual; and also, in my memory, I was wise and worldly even though still something of a wine novice.
There were ten wines in the Merlot tasting (not conducted blind). Sadly, the Chateau Clinet 2012 was corked. Of the other nine, which ranged in price from $51 to $225, only one aroused that old Merlot love of mine—the 2012 Leonetti from Walla Walla. Oh my, what a beautiful Merlot, with that gorgeous red fruit lightly accented by Merlot’s trademark leafy green tea, the sweetness of the fruit bringing a satisfied smile to your face, the finish luxurious and lingering. And the 2012 Shafer was also very pleasing, a gorgeous young co-ed, as well as the least expensive of the wines. The other seven, a lot of expensive wine, were acceptable. But more like Meh-lot.
I am weary of every Merlot discussion beginning with a line quoted from a lousy Hollywood movie, a buddy film without any flair, a film as dull and formulaic as Clos du Bois Merlot. Go fuck yourself, Miles. (Yes, I know his line in the context of the film is ironic. It’s a lousy film filled with lousy irony.) Merlot can be as good as any red wine. I guess in my eagerness to explore the other great wines of the world, I neglected Merlot, forgot about her, like how we forget the names of former lovers. Or maybe it’s that there just aren’t that many great winemakers who want to make Merlot, because you then have to sell it. Aside from Petrus and L’Evangile and other great Bordeaux, throw in Masseto and others from Bolgheri, who’s bothering to try to make great Merlot? Not David Ramey any more. Though I wish he would. I sort of miss my old love affair with Merlot.
Or, maybe, really, you just can’t rekindle those old flames once they go out.