I quit. And not just because when I congratulated you on your successful kidney transplant you said I should get on the waiting list for a personality transplant. “I hear Suckling has three or four extra he uses only every now and then, like when he’s fucked up on Brunello,” I think you said. You were pretty doped up. You were talking like Jay McInerney. No, that’s not why I’m quitting. I had an epiphany. “Epiphany”—it’s from the Greek for brainfart.
I’ve been the California wine critic for Wine Spectator since 1980. That’s 35 years ago. I’ve put more of California in my mouth than Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen combined. I’ve spit enough wine to float Harvey Steiman. (And, really, how do you make a Harvey Steiman float? Add two scoops of ice cream! Hahahahahahahaha. That’s funny because Harvey’s never had a scoop in his life.) I’ve scored more than that Game of Thrones dwarf at Comic Con. And, well, I just realized I’m sick to death of California wine. And have been for about fifteen years.
You know I’ve never been very comfortable with the limelight, Marv. I’m pretty quiet. Frankly, I don’t much like people. When you make me write winemaker profiles, I struggle with what to say. Sure, there are a few winemakers I like. I hang out with Tor Kenward, but, well, yeah, now that I think about it, I guess that’s about it. Maybe I should be more friendly. Hang out with more wine people. About time someone Tor me a new one! Hahahahahahaha. I’m on fire today, Marv, like that big horse turd in your mouth you got from Cuba. That seems too much like cannibalism… Anyhow, I’m tired of being the guy who’s the punching bag for people who think California wines are lousy. It’s not my fault they're lousy. It’s Parker’s fault.
In the good old days, Marv, you remember, there was no goddamned internet. We’d publish our little numbers and suck up all the advertising dollars out there. No one complained. Sure, an occasional Letter to the Editor would show up—remember how we’d read them outloud in a funny falsetto voice, like we were Jancis Robinson—but, for the most part, we didn’t ever have to worry about criticism. I miss those days. Now I have to turn off my Google Alert. Some guy the other day said I looked like a barrique’s bunghole with Tom Selleck’s moustache. How stupid is that? It’s clearly Omar Sharif’s moustache. And I can’t go anywhere near those wine chat rooms! Those guys are mean. For the record, I am not Helen Turley’s bee-atch. I don’t even know what that is.
But it’s not being in the limelight so much. Nor is it that I have to write the same stinking blog posts year after year after year. Jeez, Marv, you know I don’t have anything interesting to say about wine. Why do you and Tom make me write a column? Not just “Seinfeld” has a Kramer to spout endless non sequiturs. Matt can barge into any room and say weird shit with the best of 'em. I swear, if I have to write another fucking “Six Wineries to Watch” column, I’m going to go insane. Or “Hot New Chardonnay Producers.” It’s just crap, and you make me fill in the winery blanks like it’s “MadLibs.”
“___(Name)______ is quietly producing some of California’s finest offerings of ___(grape)____. If you’re lucky enough to get on his mailing list, you’re in for a rare ___(noun)____.”
And I’m still miffed that you wouldn’t let me use “boner” as the noun. Or as the Name. Though I snuck in Bonarda as the grape! Hahahahahahahaha. I’m hilarious! There’s not enough boners in wine writing, Marv, even though we’re easily the most sexist business around. We should celebrate that. But never mind, my point is I’m sick of the endlessly redundant columns I have to crank out. I sure as hell won’t miss those. “Six Wineries to Watch?” Yeah, sure, for what? Label reproductions in the wine review section that they’ll now gladly pay for after we give them 92 points? Yup. I guess so.
I can keep cranking out the same useless columns forever. Well, I have. They’re no harder than writing tasting notes. So that’s not why I’m resigning either. As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m just weary of California wine. No, not all of it. There’s still some wineries that make wines I like. Caymus comes to mind.
Oooh, I loved the Caymus 40th Anniversary Cabernet! You know why? Because Caymus has the balls to make the wine the way people want their wines—sweet! And that wine is just yummy sweet. I’ll bet that wine has at least 7 grams of sugar in it. Perfect! OK, maybe not as delicious as the 14 grams in Ménage à Trois or the 18 grams in Apothic, but I can’t give those factory wines a 95. They’re crap. Caymus is Caymus. They’ve scored the number one wine in our Top 100 wines issue twice! Finally, a wine I like I can give a big score to. I don’t want to make a fool of myself.
Sure, I used to like dry wines. I was young once. Back then, the sweet ones, which didn’t come along very often, really bothered me. But now I love the sweet reds! I can’t get enough of them. Hell, I relentlessly give them high scores. If they’re reputable wineries, of course. I’m not going to ruin my reputation for just any winery. I’m trying really hard to influence wineries to make sweeter reds. But they don’t seem to be catching on. It’s frustrating. All day long I have to suffer through these big, nasty, bone dry, unfiltered Cabernets when Papa’s just jonesin’ sweetness. Structured, elegant, lean, bone dry? 89 pointers, all of them. Boom! But, hell, only every now and then do I find one I really like. Smooth and rich and satisfying, like a cork-finished chocolate milkshake. That’s a 95! BaBOOM! Figure it out, marketing people, Uncle Jimmy likes it sweet.
But they won’t figure it out. Not enough of them, anyway. Sure, Parker likes Brett, they figure that out. Suckling likes paid subscriptions, they figure that out. Is this so much harder to figure out? Apparently. So I’m outta here, Marv, old buddy. Done. Finito. In the immortal words of Marie Antoinette, “Let ‘em drink cake!”