Thursday, June 6, 2019
I didn’t want to be the one to tell you, but come Wednesday, you’re history. I’m not trying to be funny. Word is you’re a goner, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise. On the bright side, pretty much everyone believes you have it coming, so it should be good news for most people. And you’re not that young, so there’s that. Now is the time for you to say your farewells, to get your affairs in order, and to Drink These Six Wines Before You Die on Wednesday.
Chateau Rayas 1990 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
You might have time to find a bottle of this legendary wine. I’m not sure how good it’s going to taste with that nasty pain medication you’ll be on, but what choice do you have? Everyone who ever rated this wine awarded it 100 points, so even with your dulled senses and unpredictable vomiting, it should be terrific! Notice the length of its finish. You should be so lucky.
Screaming Eagle 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon
All that fun money you’ve been rather foolishly saving (at least it’s foolish in hindsight now that you know Wednesday, and I mean early Wednesday, is your last day) will be well-spent on this legendary Napa Valley Cabernet. The ’02 Screaming Eagle is astonishing; notice the silkiness of the texture—a bit of foreshadowing for that coffin lining you’ll be feeling for eternity. Oh, that’s right, you’ve asked to be cremated. Smell that toasty oak!
Chave 1999 Hermitage
The ’99 Chave Hermitage, unlike you, has a long life ahead of it. When you get your hands on this wine, be sure to decant it for a day. So, by Tuesday. I still have a couple of bottles, and I’d invite you over to share, but I’m guessing the CDC won’t allow you out of quarantine with that virus you’re going to have. Turns out you’re going saignée style—bleeding from a lot of different pores. Your future, it turns out, is very rosé.
Jayer 1978 Richebourg
Most people don’t understand just how long Pinot Noir can live. They were wrong about you, too, of course, so it’s no big surprise. Everyone who loves wine should have the opportunity to spend a few hours with a Jayer Burgundy. You’ve got the chance now that you won’t need to make that next mortgage payment. What I love is that you’re using a Coravin to have only one glass. You’re hilarious!
Nicolas Joly 1996 Coulée de Serrant
Maybe if you’d spent your wine life drinking biodynamic wines, you wouldn’t be under this death sentence. You should have been more careful about what you put into your body. Beyond that, you should be ashamed of yourself, drinking all that industrial wine. You not only ruined your own life, you fucked with this planet we supposedly share—at least for a few more days. Is it any wonder we don’t really care you’re a dead man walking? Sure, what do you care now? Selfish prick. Maybe a taste of Joly’s wine will make you see how stupid you were, although, sure, we’re all going to die anyway. But if you’d drunk only wines made organically or biodynamically or naturally, those of us you’ve left behind may have had more respect for you, and you might have lived a lot longer. I think I say this on behalf of all the natural wine advocates, this is what they all really think of you, Fuck You, Industrial Wine Drinker, You Can't Die Soon Enough! You were a moron, anyway.
A Wine From Your Birth Year
Yeah, poetic. Hasta la vista, Baby.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
|HoseMaster of Wine's™ Cabinet of Curiosities
OK, sorry, all that preaching just to introduce the newest thing in the wine business that I, personally, am really excited about. Phrenology!
Rudolf Steiner? Aren’t we just a little sick of that wacky Austrian? Steiner didn’t even drink wine; though, when you think about it, that’s probably smart when your national variety is Grüner Veltliner. I’d rather stuff cowshit in horns, too. Steiner is out, my friends, and Franz Joseph Gall is in. Gall originated phrenology, so among people who make shit up, he has few peers. Phrenology was the 100 Point Scale of its day. Yet another triumph of subjectivity over objectivity. It seems right, so it must be right. Only recently have wine experts realized that you can’t even spell “phrenology” without “enology.” Oh, maybe those were spelling experts. Either way, I can’t think of more conclusive proof that it works.
After becoming certified biodynamic by the Demeter Association, vintner Gio Desic determined that, frankly, his wines weren’t that good. He had a fantastic vineyard in the best part of Fruili, so he knew it wasn’t the climate. He spared no expense on the finest barrels, even bringing in an albino to burn sage in every new barrel in order to rid the barrel of evil spirits, like bourbon, and provide much needed jobs for albinos. And then it hit him. His winemaker, Alberto V. Ofive, had a very unattractive and misshapen skull. Desic knew that the shape of a human’s head, in the hands of a trained phrenologist, reveals nearly everything about the person’s personality, her strengths and weaknesses, not to mention the shape of mom’s birth canal. Gio’s father had been a gondolier in a famous birth canal, so he was familiar with the concept.
Desic decided to hire world-renowned phrenologist Sarah Bellum to take the measure of Alberto V. Ofive’s skull. “Just as grapes need to show phenolic ripeness,” Bellum told Gio Desic, “so do humans need to show phrenolic ripeness.” It made inarguable sense.
Sarah Bellum spent hours taking measurements of Alberto V. Ofive’s head. Placing her calipers carefully and meticulously around the winemaker’s skull, she took notes on the various “Organs” on his skull, the bumps and depressions giving her insight into his suitability as a winemaker for biodynamic wines. A picture began to emerge.
“His Organ of Sustainability isn’t prominent enough,” she told Gio Desic. “And there’s a very large protrusion on his Organ of Davis, which indicates he’s read too many winemaking textbooks. There’s a significant bump on his Organ of Self-Esteem, but that’s very common in winemakers. And I was impressed with his engorged Organ of Chapoutier, but that’s another story.”
Gio Desic, after Sarah Bellum’s assessment, was forced to fire Alberto V. Ofive. As Bellum predicted when she gave the big thumbs up to his next hire, Angelina Joly, daughter of the famous proprietor of Coulée de Serrant and Jon Voight (long story), the wines at Gio Desic’s estate now garner scores in the high 90’s from every major wine critic, as well as Jeb Dunnuck.
Sarah Bellum is the first phrenologist to make her mark in the wine world, but she won’t be the last. Already, wine writers like Alice Feiring are praising her work. “Great wines are as much about the winemaker as they are about the climate and soil,” Feiring has said. “Genuine natural wines are made by winemakers with the right bumps on the right Organs of the Skull. Close inspection of winemaker’s Organs is critical to appreciating wine." I think anyone with any common sense would agree with that.
Monday, May 20, 2019
It seemed fitting to allow my intern (still!) Lo Hai Qu to review the recent Netflix movie, "Wine Country." It's been a long time since I've turned my blog over to her, but I'm happy to have her back. I've missed her.
So, my girlfriends Shizzangela and Loqueesha, and Loqueesha’s total loser cousin Klamydia, I mean Klamydia’s entire Instagram page is pictures of her ongoing armpit electrolysis trying to make her pit hair resemble Justin Bieber, wanted to come over to my house to watch “Wine Country.” What a stupid fucking idea, but they were bringing some Natural Wines, which means wines that Shizzangela would normally use to wash her Afro because they taste like someone threw up in your mouth, and they were determined to watch this flick with a bunch of girls because they heard it was like some sort of menopausal “Sideways.” I told them I hated “Sideways,” but I thought they were talking about sex not some other dumbass movie about wine.
First of all, movies about wine are always stupid and never about wine. Wine is boring. Ergo, wine movies is boring. Duh. They have one plot. Show how stupid people are about wine. I already know people are stupid about wine, I’m on the internet, for fuck’s sake. Whenever I watch a movie about wine I want to give up drinking wine. I hate the pretentious assholes they show, and I hate the other people in the movie who just like to drink wine, make fun of the pretentious wine people, and don’t care about wine, they just like to get drunk so they can talk like they’re all profound but all they’re really being is full of self-pity, all weepy and full of fake love and insight. In “Wine Country” the ladies spend way too much time getting drunk and all Brené Brown-nosing each other. Fuck, I hope I never get that old and annoying.
At least I didn’t pay to see “Wine Country” seeing as how I use my parents Netflix password. Netflix is spending like 5 gazillion dollars to make shows for its streaming service, so they still have 5 gazillion minus the $800 it took to make this movie Quaalude. So, I know how this flick got made, Amy Polar goes to some male exec at Neflix and makes this Hollywood movie pitch, “SNL chicks go to Napa Valley and barf on ‘Sideways.’” Guy says, “Sold!” Amy Polar vortex goes to her buds and says, Hey, I got us a free trip to wine country where we just have to fake comedy for a few weeks. It’ll be fun and we get to hang out and get our butts kissed, drink a bunch, have a paid vacation girls trip, and I got Tina Fey to go for it because no one has heard of any of the rest of you for about ten years so people might actually watch this egofest.
We were all pretty bored by about half way through “Wine Country.” The movie is exactly like an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” You get all excited that it will be funny for 90 minutes, even though it never is, you turn it on and it has some cool guest host, the opening sketch is pretty funny, and then all the other sketches start to be a slog and you just start waiting for Michael Che cuz the only really funny people ever on SNL are the black people. Shizzangela has this thing for Michael Che, she has this sparkly tight T-Shirt she wears all the time that says, “Che Ate Here,” that’s kinda weird, especially when she wears the matching panties, but I get it. Anyways, “Wine Country” is like a longass episode of SNL without Weekend Update. There’s a sketch at a wine tasting bar, a sketch about paella, a sketch about a natural wine vineyard, a sketch about drunk friends in a bar and one falls off a piano, a sketch about an art show with stereotyped Millennials—fuck, that’s the tone deaf scene of the movie year, we’re much meaner than that. This movie didn’t need a director, it needed fucking Jack Kevorkian. Actually, it didn’t have a director, so there’s that.
So if, say, Shizzangela and Loqueesha and I turn 50 some day, which seems unlikely and scary and I don’t really want to end up like those women in “Wine Country,” all rich and spoiled and suffering from some illusion that they’re Everywoman, and we go to Napa Valley for a long weekend, without that crazy fucking Klamydia who is now learning to be a ventriloquist and sneaks up on you with her armpit and makes it say, “Kiss me, I’m Justin Bieber,” the first thing we’re not going to do is hire a driver. There is a guy in the movie who comes with the house?! What the fuck kind of house is that? The movie just doesn’t even try to make sense. Women trying to bond over being older and they rent this $2500 a night house in Napa Valley that comes with a paella guy that drives a limo? Yeah, that’s a premise I can identify with. This is clearly a movie that speaks to me as a woman. I’m here to be with my girls on a trip for my 50th birthday, what the hell is this paella guy doing here and why is he fondling a giant calamari like its somebody’s afterbirth? Some kind of weird symbolism.
The whole time I’m watching “Wine Country” I’m thinking, Who did they make this snorefest for? Of course, the answer is, Themselves. I don’t know what I was expecting. Well, I don’t know what Shizzy and Loqueesha were expecting, to be more accurate, because I never wanted to watch this crap in the first place. I wanted to watch that Beyoncé thing, or that movie about Ted Bundy because serial killers are way more interesting and funnier than girl buddy movies. You know what would make a good movie! “Wine Country” women run into Ted Bundy in a Calistoga bar and only the Lesbian one makes it out! I’ll be calling you Netflix guy. That’s a surefire pitch.
Friday, May 17, 2019
This is a piece I wrote in December of 2014. Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Editor in Chief of Wine Advocate, announced the official retirement of Robert Parker yesterday.
For more than thirty years I was the most powerful critic in the history of the world. I say that with complete humility. There were many critics in my chosen field, but they were to me as carbuncles are to my hairy butt—I never saw them, but they were forever riding my ass. My words alone were enough to make fortunes, while their weak exhortations were the critical equivalent of Bitcoin—imaginary money, imaginary influence. I declared geniuses and goddesses in an occupation that otherwise generated only pretenders, robots and dinosaurs. I found no joy in being the most powerful critic in the history of the world. I’m glad to be done with it. I hope to miss it someday.
Now that it’s over, I can reflect on my accomplishments. With the clarity of hindsight, I can see the reach of my influence. Wine will never see my like again. The world has changed. I began in the print era, when reviews had the timeliness of messages in a bottle. Reviews had to be delivered by the Postal Service, which is like wiping your nose two weeks after you sneeze. Really doesn’t do anybody any good. Every review seemed to be published months too early, or weeks too late. There were only a few important regions to cover—Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa Valley, Tuscany, and the Rhône Valley. No one bought German wine. They still don’t buy German wine. Who buys German wine? German Riesling is the greatest white wine in the world that nobody buys. It’s the Edsel of wine. It’s the Betamax of wine regions. It’s the Conan O’Brien. I drink it about as often as I read Decanter. Which is also too often cloying.
I was in the right place at the right time. Wine publications are in their death throes now. Many of them are magazine zombies, still stumbling around stiff-legged, eating the brains of their contributors, which are slim pickings, and not even aware they’re dead. They’re frightening consumers, all these wine critics walking around dead, still publishing scores when they should be resting in their Graves. And now the zombies are eating other zombies. Vinous devoured the brains of International Wine Cellar to create a super-zombie. Tanzalloni! Tanzalloni wants to become the most powerful critic in wine, but even a super-zombie is still the walking dead. Even a team of Tanzalloni zombies walking the wine regions of the Earth won’t have the power that I once possessed. Everywhere they go there is the smell of death on them, a smell that will not go unnoticed by winemakers. Marketing people won’t smell it, of course, they’re used to the smell of death, having killed truth a long time ago. But the wine world has begun to notice that there are nothing but magazine zombies among us, and that their days of walking the Earth, dead or undead, are numbered.
When I ruled the wine world, people knew what to expect. “Integrity” was my middle name. Even my severest critics at the end of my career acknowledged that. They always referred to me as “R.I.P” in tribute to it being my middle name. When I had all the power, the wine world was a simpler place. I made it that way. I introduced the 100 Point Scale to criticism. What’s simpler than that? I understood before anyone else the wine-buying public’s deep-seated need to be shallow, their passion for the easy answer, for shortcuts to expertise, their love for distilled wisdom, their willingness to pay for someone else to make them seem savvy to their friends. I wrote complex and florid tasting notes to go with the scores I awarded, but I knew that those notes were read about as often as Miranda rights in Missouri. It was the numbers that were magic. Wine doesn’t have to be complicated, the numbers said. No wine is unique, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. No matter what, they all have numbers, somewhere between 80 and 100. Only 21 different kinds of wine. Even you can understand that. This is my proudest accomplishment.
When I was at the peak of my power, wine knew it had to answer to me. When I awarded a wine 100 points, everyone knew how to make a great wine. Before I came along, the wines of the world were all over the place stylistically. This was stupid and confusing for the average consumer. Imagine that every time you read a James Patterson book it was different! How annoying would that be? You want it to be the same formula every single time. Same with Bordeaux, or Australian Shiraz, or Super Tuscans. Thanks to me, the average consumer can go to his local wine shop and buy a $150 Napa Valley Cabernet that will taste exactly like the last $150 Napa Valley Cabernet he purchased! Sure, there’s some variation, winemakers aren’t perfect, they don’t really know a 96 point wine like I do, but it will be pretty damned similar. Again, I’m proud of this. I standardized Bordeaux and California, Oregon and Washington, Spain and Italy. There may be 5000 different grapes, but, dammit, there are only a handful of styles. Someone had to do it. It was chaos when I started. Someone had to set some standards. I was to wine what The New York Times Book Review is to literature. Its savior.
And now I’m through. I refuse to become a zombie. Let the damned Singapore mafia be the zombies, I’m finished. I’m the Emperor in Winter. I leave the wine criticism to the current tribe of zombies—Laube, Robinson, Olken, Meadows, Teague, McInerney, Bonné, Asimov… Be careful out there, wine lovers, they’re here to eat your brains. McInerney will probably go for your nuts, too. As for who will replace me, and the zombies still walking the Earth, I don’t know who that will be. Surely not the feckless and tiring voices of the Internet, that loud chorus of poodles barking into the darkness. If they ever move the needle, it’s just the irritating sound of it scratching along the surface of the LP. Their influence is that of a single Saccharomyces in a puncheon of hedonistic Syrah—not measurable or unique, and destined to die once all the sugar has gone. And the sugar is almost gone.
No, there will never again be a most powerful critic in the world. Oh, certainly wine will endure. People will still buy according to the 100 Point Scale—it is so stupid it is immortal. But wine will be adrift. Lost. Untethered. Wine drinkers will have to fend for themselves, try to understand wine on its own terms, find their own measure of its quality.
More’s the pity.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
One of my fellow columnists from Tim Atkin MW’s site, Peter Pharos, sent me this response to my previous post. It’s damned funny. I’ve never met Peter, but now I hate him. The only other wine person who’s funnier in print than I am is David Schildknecht—but you have to read his work translated into English. For years, I’ve asked for people to write guest posts for HoseMaster of Wine™, but Peter’s is only the second one I’ve published in, lo, these ten years. Though I do have the funniest common taters in the wine blog biz.
It’s always the stupidest posts that catch on. “Failed Master of Wine Dissertations” seems to have stuck some sort of chord. I’m glad. And I’m really glad I got this free post out of Peter.
The Paris Tasting of 1976: Who the Fuck Cares
While the examination committee considered you have answered the topic correctly and exhaustively, “Stephen Spurrier” is below the required word count.
The Effect of Climate Change on BevMo’s Five Cent Sale
The research paper has to cover a wine-related topic.
Vineyard Dogs: Their Effect on Sales, and Why They Do That Thing With Their Legs When You Scratch Their Stomach Just Like Angelo Gaja Does
Your methodology lacks primary data, specifically any experiments of you scratching Angelo Gaja’s stomach.
Natural Wine: Does All That Hair Get Stuck in Your Teeth
The topic has a very limited scope, as if one drinks natural wine often enough, one is left without teeth.
Sommeliers on Tinder: Always Pick the Second Cheapest One
The work rests on the faulty premise that there is a second cheapest sommelier on Tinder.
Champagne: How They Missed the Boat on the Charmat Process
Have you tried Moët NV? Does it strike you as being fermented in bottle?
Do Sexually Suggestive Wine Labels Sell More Wine to Stupid People, Drunk People or People With Serious Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury
While the Institute applauds inclusive terminology, using “people” to refer to males leads to semantic confusion.
If Tastebuds Were on Your Nipples, Would Wines Smell Better Cold
How do you think Tim Hanni tastes wine?
Are Wines Really All That Different: I Can’t Tell Them Apart and Neither Can You
Women in Wine: Is Three Hours Enough Time to Marinate
The topic is redundant, as in the end the man will be picked.
Is Every New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Under $25 the Same Wine With a Different Label
South African Pinotage: Is it Better or Worse than Apartheid
Your work failed to highlight that they were both propped by the English.
Case Study: Slurping or Gargling, Which More Effectively Annoys Fellow Judges at Wine Competitions
Your work failed to consider judges who introduce themselves as “Name Surname MW”
Blind Tasting: Party Trick or Desperate Cry for Attention
Your work failed to consider the effects of wearing a pin.
Variety or Varietal: The Predictability of Lower I.Q. in People Who Use Varietal as a Noun
The Institute has a zero tolerance policy towards abuse of its members.
Swartland: Where Swart Comes From
The research paper has to refer to a wine-producing area.
When Austrian Wines Were Considered the Best in the World: What a Day That Was
Your work correctly identified the day as the 11th of March 1940, but did not mention that it applied only in the Axis-occupied World.
Is a Penis Effective for Bâttonage. No, I’m Just Happy to See You
Students have been told repeatedly that what happens in the MW study trip, stays in the MW study trip.