Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From the HoseMaster of Wine Archives: 1978

When I first began wine blogging in 1978 the landscape of wine was totally different. Hell, the landscape of my forehead was totally different. Wine blogging was more civilized then, and far less crowded. I think there were only two wine blogs--mine and Walter Cronkite's. (Whatever happened to him?) Al Gore had called me to tell me he'd invented the Internet (I suggested the name "Internet," by the way; Al wanted to call it the Tippernet) and I recognized right away that it would become a powerful force in the wine business and so I began HoseMaster of Wine soon thereafter. Now here we are, thirty years later, and I'm still cranking out the wine wisdom, though I'm occasionally drowned out by the thousands and thousands of muttonheads who have started their own wine blogs. However, in their defense, I will say that wine blogs represent some of the finest examples of typing the wine world has ever seen!

As the end of the year approaches, I thought it might be fun to reproduce some excerpts from my early HoseMaster of Wine posts. I think they still hold up.

June 1978

This was one of my earliest "What's the HoseMaster Drinking?" posts.

Callaway 1977 Chardonnay Temecula

Many of you haven't had a lot of Chardonnay, but put down those glasses of Wente Blanc de Blancs and your Grey Riesling, get off your butts, head down to the fine wine section of Trader Joe's (no finer wine shop in the land!) and pick up a bottle of Callaway '77 Chardonnay! This is astonishing wine, and ranks right up there with the best Chardonnays from anywhere in the world, including the best Chardonnay in the world, Jadot Pouilly-Fuisse! Don't just take my word for it. President Carter is serving the Callaway Chardonnay at a State Dinner next week because it is the perfect wine with crow. I've also been told by the winery that Jim Jones has ordered ten cases for a "special" punch he's going to serve his followers in Guyana. No doubt it will knock 'em dead. Let me be the first to say that one day Temecula will be hailed as one of the world's greatest wine growing regions, right up there with Beaujolais!

Disclaimer: Though I liked the wine, I encouraged Mr. Callaway to get out of the wine business and pursue something more profitable, like golf clubs. I think he was teed off.

And here's a brief little post where I made a recommendation about wine reviewing:

I'm a little tired of reading wine reviews that are simply a bunch of words strung together. How in the world can I tell what the reviewer thinks of the wine when all I have to go by is a bunch of adjectives? And when he's reviewed a bunch of different wines, I'm talking to you Robert Lawrence Balzer, how am I supposed to know which Gallo bottling he likes best? This is confusing for me, and I'm an expert (I just received my HMW), what's it like for the consumer?

I think I have a solution. Why not give numbers to the wines? A score. You know, like you got on spelling tests when you were a kid. Why even bother with descriptions? Who cares what you think it tastes like? Who are you? Robert Finigan? Tell me how many points you think it's worth. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that we use a 100 point scale. The worst wine you've ever tasted gets 100 points. So a perfect wine would get a Zero. (No Zeroes on my watch, especially on Pearl Harbor Day.) I think this makes perfect sense, and one day everyone will use this scale to rate wines.

For example, the Callaway 1977 Chardonnay I'd give 11 points! See? Makes sense, doesn't it?

I almost got it right. Then some damned lawyer in Maryland stole my idea, which is the risk you take when you are brilliant and have a wine blog, reversed it just to make it look like it was his idea, and the rest, well, you know the rest.


Arthur said...

Poor Ron. Hosed again!

Samantha Dugan said...

Stolen ideas, aint that a bitch?! Hosed indeed. If that were to happen to me, say if I wrote a post with a not so funny line like, "When I started blogging 20 years ago" and someone like took it and used it for their own, don't know what I might be forced to do. I might have to strap on the leather, break out the chains and punish them....just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Heavens to Sweet Nancy! I remember the days of Callaway as a premium winery...though they were over-shadowed a few years later by the San Pasqual winery (Kerry "Gawd" Damskey was their winemaker)...


Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

There is an old quote attributed to T.S. Eliot that goes, "Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal." Draw your own conclusions.

I do so adore you!

Anonymous 1,

I always wonder why so many people in the wine business hate the glassy-winged sharpshooter when it damn near succeeded in wiping out Temecula. We should give the little buggers a medal.

I didn't know Kerry Damskey worked at San Pasqual (San Pasqual was the patron saint of new French oak). But I guess most of the great winemakers came out of Temecula.

Samantha Dugan said...

Wow, that was less fun than I thought it would be....

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I was just scared by the "strap on" part.

And, hey, we're not here at HoseMaster to have fun! You want fun, read PalatePress outloud and try to keep a straight face.

I adore you and whatever you strap on.

Anonymous said...

San Pasqual winery actually had some nice wines back then. Amazing what ripe grapes (not over-ripe), a cultured yeast and a skilled enologist could do back in those days. Now you have bloggers (and maybe even someone who actually drinks wine) who prefer "natural yeast", unfiltered wines matured in clay pots or enema bags and bottled by the light of the moon...a whole different world.
I know some militia fellers from Montana who'd like to think they're sharp-shooters, but they're usually too glassy-eyed to be accurate. They've never been to Temecula.
That Samantha sure has a mouth on her, don't she? No wonder she's such a skilled wine taster...