Thursday, June 28, 2012



Chapter 5: God Gives Your Life a 78

Every day in this miserable world people disappear and no one cares. The lost, the lonely, the unloved. They board alien spacecraft, or they empty their bank accounts, leave their belongings behind and just get on a bus to nowhere, say Suisun Valley. If you believe you might end up one of them, take the spacecraft. They can be gone weeks before anyone notices, if anyone notices. People you might see on a regular basis in your daily life—at the grocery store buying one pork chop and Boner in a Can, sitting in the park feeding lit cigarettes to squirrels, in the bookstore tearing the pages out of every Jay McInerney book as a public service—and then one day you remember you haven’t seen them for months. And you don’t give it a second thought. You believe their family and friends are looking after them. But they are not. The world has swallowed them up--the heartbreak and loneliness, the sorrow and the weariness, the failure and the futility, the miserable and relentless part of our existence slowly eats away at them and they surrender. They disappear, just so many 78 point scores in a world that demands a minimum of 95. Life is arbitrary, just like wine scores. You do the best you can with the materials you’re given, you hope and pray that all of your hard work leads you to be “Highly Recommended,” but God gives your life a 78, writes “Nothing to like here, off aromas and very little taste, best to avoid,” and no one ever cares again about what happens to you. My advice? Ask God to retaste.

I was pretty shaken up by Tiny’s news that Avril had disappeared. First of all, it didn’t make any sense. I’d just slept with Avril the night before, slipping my big Bob Parker into her bearded Jay Miller while she gently tickled my Pancho Campo, so where could she have gone, and why was she already considered a missing person? How did Tiny know about it before I did? That was easy. Tiny knew everything that happened in Healdsburg before anyone else. But why was he rummaging around in Avril’s office? What was he looking for? Her lunch scraps?

“Hey, Tiny, what the hell are you doing here?” He seemed to be trying to hide something behind his back. Actually, most of the room was behind his back.

“Oh, nothing, HoseMaster,” Tiny wheezed, “I just came here looking for Avril, some clue about where she might have gone, or who might have taken her.”

It’s easy to tell when Tiny is lying. His lips are moving. “What’s that in your mitt?” I asked him. That’s when he decided to make his move. Of course, only Harris Ranch can move that amount of meat in a short amount of time. Tiny moves about as quickly as a floor stack of $25 Syrah. You can time him with a sundial. I let him go. Tiny’s pants were drooping pretty low, and I could see something stuck in the crack of his ass. Could have been a dachshund. But, really, it looked like a bunch of Avril’s files, and a Baby Ruth. But I had better things to worry about than Tiny’s shenanigans. I had Avril to find.

I thought as long as I was in Avril’s office I’d grab the report on Larry Anosmia’s suspicious death. I quickly rifled through her file drawers, but couldn’t find it. There were reports about lots of other wine country deaths, Copia (suicide) and “Crazyboy” Ascentia (mob hit) and Crushpad (liver failure), but no Anosmia. Had to be Tiny’s doing. Or else Avril had it with her when she disappeared. A little voice in my head kept telling me that Anosmia’s death and Avril’s disappearance were connected, and that Crystal knew a lot more about this than she was telling me. And that Tiny had had Italian for lunch that day. Avril’s office smelled like garlic burps.

I was still searching Avril’s office when I heard footsteps approaching. Sounded like two people, a man and a woman, both wearing heels. I ducked into Avril’s dark room, she didn’t develop photographs there, it was just a dark room, and left the door open a crack.

Crystal entered the room first. She looked nervous, even scared, like a wine judge facing fifteen Proseccos. Behind her was a man I didn’t recognize, wearing heels and a dress, pointing a nasty looking pistol at Crystal’s back. From his outfit, I guessed he was an M.W. candidate, and probably a British one at that. I remembered that this is how they dress when they’re taking their final exam. It’s never publicly disclosed, but it’s very well-known in the industry. Candidates have to pass three tests to qualify for an M.W., a written exam, a blind tasting, and the evening gown competition. It’s why there are so few women M.W.’s. The guys show more leg.

“I don’t know where she put it,” Crystal said, her voice cracking like a hot and sexy Stelvin. “I told you, it’s not here.”

“You’d better hope it’s here, Geyser,” the mystery man said, pulling his dress down a bit with his free hand—really, buddy, wear a thong—and poking Crystal with his gun. “It’s going to get really ugly if we don’t find it and destroy it.”

“But I don’t know where it is! Avril must know where it is. Ask her!”

“Miss Cadavril is, well, indisposed right now, and I have an exam in a few hours. I didn’t put on these pantyhose to impress you. I’m trying to pass. And that fucking Oz Clarke always makes me bend over and whistle ‘God Save the Queen.’ Now start looking.”

And that’s when I felt something crawling up my leg, I crashed through the dark room door, and the gun went off.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wine Blogging: An Obituary

“I am a blogger. But I am not a blogger. Blogging is well and truly alive. But blogging is dead.”--Jamie Goode,

“She’s my sister. (slap) She’s my daughter.”—“Chinatown”

Seems like you’re screwed either way.

Wine Blogging (2004-2012)

I first met Wine Blogging in 2008. My mother had died the year before. Or was it my sister? Or was it my mother? Though she was well and truly alive. Until she died. She would have hated Wine Blogging, and it’s a blessing that she didn’t live to see us become involved. She loved the English language with a passion most people reserve for involuntary manslaughter. Wine Blogging had little regard for language, and even less for grammar and punctuation. Wine Blogging overflowed with ridiculously ornate descriptions of wine, so ornate they were bigger than your fucking head, so ornate they made the Sistine Chapel look like a crummy tasting room with especially powerful crackers. At the same time, Wine Blogging could be mindlessly dull, emptier than a Food and Wine feature, more meaningless than a Double Gold Medal from the Temecula Wine Competition and Bachelorette Party. For years, Wine Blogging held the English language in its soundproof basement, bound and gagged and subjected to every imaginable torture, including waterboarding and reading Vornography out loud. It’s still there, screaming hopelessly in vain to be rescued. But Wine Blogging won’t let language die. That would be too easy. Yet now Wine Blogging is dead. And Wine Blogging is well and truly alive. Alive enough to really fuck up language, anyway.

At first, I had a soft spot for Wine Blogging, sort of like a bruise on a fresh peach, or that spot on the back of a newborn’s skull you sort of want to see how far your finger will go in before something bad happens. I took to Wine Blogging. But, you know, when you start a new relationship, you inherit their friends as well. I was fine with Wine Blogging, but Wine Blogging’s friends were insufferable. God, the endless yammering. Together, just the two of us, Wine Blogging and I had a lot of laughs. And we didn’t laugh at all. But we laughed a lot. Primarily, at the expense of Wine Blogging’s other buddies. Those humorless and self-absorbed knob jobs. Get them all together in a room and they’d yap endlessly about the 100 Point Scale, like so many Sean Hannitys wishing that just talking about something without actually knowing what you’re talking about will just make it go away. Or they’d talk about natural wines in reverent tones usually reserved for their favorite episodes of “Star Trek,” or the day they met Alice Feiring on But you start a conversation in a roomful of humans and nearly every one will eventually talk about his favorite subject at length and in great detail—himself. His wine journey—convinced he’s goddam Odysseus when he’s really Gilligan and wants to take you on a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour. His opinions about wines that were sent to him gratis by marketing people, thus reinforcing his sense of self-importance, and how surprisingly good they are compared to the crap he usually drinks—fascinating and useful talk. Makes you want to rush out and buy everything recommended from a sudden desire to drink yourself to death. Which may be the motive for wineries to send wines to those crap peddlers in the first place—to see their livers shut down. And yet to live forever. Live forever talking about themselves. Some in the third person, because the first two were so stupid.

Wine Blogging and I had a tempestuous relationship. We loved each other. And then we hated each other. Maybe it was just for the makeup sex, though, finally, I was told I wasn’t supposed to wear makeup. When we loved each other, there was nothing about Wine Blogging I didn’t like. Sure, Wine Blogging could be demanding, and there were always dozens of snide comments. Wine Blogging was always inseparable from snide comments. They went together like Wine Blog Awards and mediocrity, like, like Phillipe Melka and overpriced Cabs. And for a while I could stand all of that, because the rewards of embracing Wine Blogging seemed so great. And then they didn’t. And I hated Wine Blogging. But now Wine Blogging is dead. But I am well and truly alive. At least I was when I wrote this. Can you be sure I’m still alive now, when you’re reading it? And what if there are no readers, I used to ask Wine Blogging, how do you know you’re alive? Do you care? Not if you’re dead you don’t care. Ask Robert Parker.

When I got the Tweet that Wine Blogging was dead, I felt numb, like your tongue after judging Petite Sirahs, like your brain after listening to an M.S. speak, like your left arm after Marvin Shanken falls asleep cuddled up next to you after a dreamy night of playing “Hide the Havana.” Did this mean I was finally through with that bastard Wine Blogging? Or would it mean that I’d never be through with Wine Blogging? I feared both outcomes. A death so young can have ripple effects that last forever. Eight years old. Wine
Blogging was only eight years old, and now Wine Blogging was dead. And it was well and truly alive. But eight years is not a bad life span for a Poodle, a bitch. Or was it my sister? Or my mother?

Rest in Peace, Wine Blogging. I’m not surprised by your death, old friend. You were always in poor health, and had neither the skills nor the money to get healthy. You died a Goode death.

I’ll meet you where you went to die. In Portland. In August. But I won't be there.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The HoseMaster's Crystal Balls

I foresee a lot of fascinating events happening in the wine business over the next decade. For those of you new to HoseMaster of Wine (my readership has skyrocketed ever since Oprah made me the first selection of her “Oprah’s Blog Club™”, narrowly beating out “Tales From the Plus Side”), my annual predictions, which I publish every so often, are considered must-reads by everyone in the wine business, as well as wine bloggers. Careers are destroyed and fortunes are made solely on the basis of the HoseMaster’s Crystal Balls. Here then is what I see in my crystal balls relating to wine and the wine business. You may rub them for good luck. 

Pinot Noir’s popularity will begin to wane after a major medical study shows that drinking Pinot Noir on a regular basis leads to Peter Allen’s Disease, sufferers of which just can’t stop humming show tunes.

Ampelographers will find DNA evidence that Zinfandel was spread through California by Paul Draper’s scat.

Sommeliers will discover, much to their surprise, that wine is made in Sonoma County. Sales of Trousseau Gris skyrocket.

The #1 wine in the Wine Spectator Top 100 will be made by an iPhone app, or else Thomas Rivers Brown (who is a winemaker, not a complete sentence).

To honor his 60 years on the throne, Robert Parker will ride a barge down the Garonne. The barge may or may not be visible. Before his historic trip there will be a concert by, who else, El DeBarge; afterward, the French government will bestow upon Mr. Parker their highest honor, the Legion de Pain Grillé, and he will be toasted in the manner of Jeanne d’Arc, an event hosted by, who else, Johnny Dark.

Fred Franzia will release a new line of inexpensive wine made from Pignolo, Malbec and Roussane under his George Bernard Shaw label. The wine is called “Pigmalianne.” It will be nicknamed “Low Earnie Bernie.”

Orang County Wine Competition Judge    
A new wine competition will feature 4500 wines tasted blind and awarded medals by orangutans. In an eerie coincidence, results perfectly mirror the Orange County Fair awards, only with fewer double golds. And, man, can those orangs spit!

In order to fight runaway score inflation, Ben Bernanke announces that Wine Enthusiast critics will have their interest rates maintained at absolutely none.

Jay McInerney is replaced at the Wall Street Journal by noted wine expert Charlie Sheen, who’s screwed fewer celebrities but knows more about wine. Lettie Teague is replaced by a small appliance.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer introduces a Viagra-laced red wine in conjunction with Sonoma winery Woodenhead. 
If your erection lasts for more than four hours, you are advised to use an ah-so for easiest removal. The wine comes in a box.

The grape shortage is so severe in California that Barney the Dinosaur is tapped for MegaPurple. Desperate wineries trying to produce more wine resort to adding water to fermenting grapes. So, business as usual.

Sotheby’s is forced to admit it sold fake bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild when it’s revealed the labels have a picture of Art Linkletter on them. Meanwhile, Christie’s sets a new auction record with a bottle of Opus One from the cellar of Abraham Lincoln. Provenance of the wine is proven by its presence on the wine list at Ford’s Theater, where Lincoln often reserved a Booth. On the 1865 list, the Opus One is $400.

Every living M.W. will be abducted by an alien space ship. The aliens discover they go great with a glass of Pigmalianne, but cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The human race is spared by the M.W.’s last gasps as drive-thru fast food.

The James Beard Awards will take on Just For Men® as a corporate sponsor. Serena Sutcliffe dies her moustache.

Constellation changes its name to the more appropriate Death Star.

Wine forger Dr. Conti escapes from prison disguised as a bottle of 1928 Domaine Ponsot. He is recaptured at the airport where screeners won’t let him on the plane because he’s more than three ounces of liquid.

Researchers determine that European grape moths have banded together and come to California to help bail out Greece.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lower Alcohol and Ann Hedonia Wines

In the not-so-distant past California made its greatest wines. Wines with alcohol levels around 12%. But then science intervened and the great traditions of winemaking were cast aside like so many tired, old, relentlessly dull wine writers ought to be. The great traditions of picking when the grapes looked kinda tasty, of managing the canopy with a weed whacker, of using marijuana as a cover crop, of ballyhooing massive tannins as the secret to a wine’s longevity at the expense of your dental work, of actually trying to figure out how to get some damned ripeness so the wine would actually taste good—science came along and destroyed all of that, and, along with it, the authentic flavor of California wine. But now, happily, there is a new wave of winemakers who want to return to that era, who foresee a demand for lower alcohol wines, wines that deliver less pleasure in the name of more terroir--and nothing tops terroir. Except hype.

“As I see it,” says Richard Splooge of the prestigious natural wine producer Splooge Estate Vineyards, “wine made from ripe, luscious grapes, the kind that yield 15% alcohol, isn’t appropriate for our times. We’re a Puritan culture going through tough economic times and we need wine to reflect that. Sure, times were good in the ‘90’s, and we wanted wines that were 'hedonistic' and heady. Now our lives suck.  Every day is a struggle to put food on the table. And what sort of wine goes with very little food? Lean, austere, ungenerous, underripe, low alcohol wine! If your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase very much wine, you’re going to want a wine that doesn’t deliver too much pleasure, a wine that lasts longer in the glass, and a bottle that you don’t want to finish. Those are the kinds of wine we make here at Splooge Estate, and there are a lot of other wineries following our lead.” Indeed, my first taste of Splooge wasn’t very pleasurable, and that seemed to beautifully reflect my miserable, lonely life.

Another of these saviors of wine is Frank Lee Baloney of Shit a Brix Winery. Frank is a former crash test dummy who is now living his dream of owning his own vineyard. He purchased a ten-acre property in the Sierra Foothills that was once a thriving drive-in movie theater. All by himself Frank planted five acres of Abouriou, Rondinella and Gruner Veltliner in the harsh landscape of pavement, hypodermic needles and petrified condoms. His wines sell for less than $20 bottle, and include a free Slurpee. “The Slurpee is my idea of a joke,” says Frank. “So many wines from California taste like Slurpees these days. Not mine. Mine are raw and tight and hard to get rid of. More like Herpes than Slurpees.

“I pick my grapes as soon as they turn that funny color. And I don’t use any trellising either, nothing to expose them to the sun. They’re Veraison Wireless. I make my wines in what used to be the concession stand, and not with any temperature-controlled crap. That’s the work of the Devil. Fermentation is done in about six hours, as it should be. My natural yeast are redneck natural yeast and don’t screw around. My Shit a Brix wines usually end up being about 8% alcohol, but they are as perfect an expression of where they’re grown as is possible. I don’t want people tasting my wine and saying it tastes like ripe berries or jam or anything else delicious like that. I want them to taste it and say, ‘Hey, that tastes like Shit!’” And, indeed, they do.

Ann Hedonia made ripe, chewy, rich, high alcohol wines under her Ann Hedonia label, and received very high scores from the most prestigious critics. “But I got tired of that,” Ann told me, “and now I want to garner praise from the wine critics who have a lot to say but don’t really matter, like Ms. Feiring and that W. Blinky Gray hanger-on and Jamie Goodietwoshoes. And they’re all talking about lower alcohols, so that’s where I’m going.” Her Ann Hedonia Cabernet Sauvignon once received a perfect 100 point score from both Robert Parker and James Laube. She’s done making wines like that. “Too easy to sell, and for too much money.”

And now the Ann Hedonia wines reflect the name itself. “The thing about ripeness is it tends to eliminate terroir, and I drink wine for terroir, not pleasure or insobriety or joy. Those don’t belong in wine. And I want wine drinkers to understand that it’s not about being delicious, it’s about being authentic and natural, and appealing to the current obsession with our permanently disabled climate. I’m with the climate change deniers, and lower alcohol wines soothe my guilty conscience, make me feel like we’ve returned to the good old days when we burned fossil fuels guilt-free, as if it was Tibetan monks, and the seasons were predictable every year, and wines were lean and bracing, without the shame of ripeness and warmth. Low alcohol wines are my nostalgia for those days when we didn’t have to give a crap about the planet. It’s my way of pretending that now I do.”

Even renowned and admired wine expert Rudy Kurniawan, often known as Dr. Conti, told me, “When I faked those great old Burgundies with younger and simpler wines, I always tried to keep the alcohol levels low. I care about the people who buy my wines, and I think a wine with lower alcohol is more expressive and subtle, more revealing of its terroir even if it isn’t actually from that terroir. I drank a lot of Screaming Eagle also, for example, and when I refilled the bottles, I’d make sure and blend in some fake Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet, just a few ounces, to add some structure and lower the alcohol. It improved the fake Screaming Eagle, if I do say so myself, and made it worth the money to the fake connoisseurs who bought it and bragged to their asshole friends about it. It seemed to work wonders. Really, I think the future of fraudulent wine is in low alcohol wine.”

Well said.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why I Do Whatever It Is I Do

What’s wonderful about blogging is that it is so self-absorbing. There is nothing more interesting than the self, not even wine, or Plato’s Cave (which is what I call the female sex organs, and explains why I wear a miner’s hat when in bed). I try to write two or three times a week, and in those hours I can say anything I want about wine, express any opinion, and be comfortable knowing that I am always right. It’s very liberating.

I can’t imagine why anyone reads wine blogs. Of course, the truth is, not that many people do. More people read mattress tags. Which, in general, are better written. HoseMaster of Wine, on a good day, gets about 1000 hits. That’s 2000 fewer than Roberto Clemente, and he’s been dead for 40 years. So why the hell do I do it? Why do I put myself out there twice a week trying to make people laugh? There’s nothing in it for me, aside from the undying admiration of my self. Which is why everyone blogs. Why do I find it so compelling to belittle, lampoon, satirize, lambaste, mock, parody and ridicule all the wine biz types that I think deserve it? I get asked this question a lot, mostly by people who dislike my work.

Maybe because wine is like comedy. The minute you try to explain it, it ceases to have any meaning. Also, most of the time it sucks. And both wine and comedy are subjective, as they should be. They’re both art forms. I think I fell in love with wine because it makes me laugh. Wine is joy in its simplest form—liquid. Yet the pursuit of wine, the endless quest to try to explain it, guarantees that its meaning will elude you. In that way, wine is exactly like happiness.

I’ve forgotten more about wine than I’ll ever know again. I find this Wine Alzheimer's of great comfort. (For years I thought “WA” stood for “Wine Alzheimer’s,” and that the numbers that followed it in wine reviews were the age of the people reviewing it. So “WA 96” meant that some old, senile fart really liked that stupid, overpriced Cabernet, which makes sense when you think about it. I thought "WE" stood for "Wine Exaggerated.") I find it satisfying that I’ve forgotten something I used to know, and that’s a long list of wine stuff. But it’s far better to have forgotten some trivial knowledge about wine than to pretend you actually know it.

Or maybe I Hose so many people and things in the wine biz because we are suddenly living in a culture that despises dialogue, and that sort of narcissism offends me. We FaceBook and Tweet and blog, but we rarely hear each other. When a fresh, hot, steaming pile of topic hits the blogosphere, it generates an avalanche of opinion, little of it insightful, almost none of it interesting, and almost all of it written in a desperate attempt to fill space. Which makes it inherently funny. There are so many people who believe their own self-constructed fantasies, the ones they create on their FaceBook page, or the ones they promote on their blogs--which, after all, are self-promotion first, and self-expression second. Many who are not actually believe they’re wine experts. They’ve begun to believe their self-proclaimed interest has suddenly and remarkably turned to valuable insight. It’s wonderfully comic, and I cannot seem to resist it. For the record, I know a lot about wine, but I’m about as much of a wine expert on the scale of things as Kevin Costner is an actor. And I’m a third-rate satirist, but I’m here in the minor leagues, so that’s appropriate.

And then there are the people in power, the influential few whose opinions and scores lead to what almost everyone in the wine business is after—money. Whether they admit it or not, most everyone who takes the time to write seriously about wine wants to be one of those few—Parker or Laube or Hold Me Closer, Tiny Tanzer or Asimov or, God Forbid, McInerney. Those wine Gods live in the rarefied air of Mount Olympus, of Valhalla, or, really, of Brobdingnag. We mortals need to outrage them once in a while, attempt to bring their wrath down upon us, and point out that they suffer from the same hubris, jealousy, greed, dishonesty and gluttony that we are prone to. I’m good at that. Though, as Gods will so often do, they simply ignore me.

It is my assumption that everyone who regularly visits HoseMaster of Wine comes to laugh. I write it to make myself laugh, though I fail at that miserably. I am grateful for all those who drop by. I think one could write poetry alone, or compose music in one’s head, or keep a diary, but writing comedy basically demands an audience, no matter how small. I can delude myself that people are laughing at my posts as well as any wine blogger who deludes himself that people care what he thinks about the latest simulated wine from Diageo. It’s a gift we humans possess. I never run out of ideas, and I never have writer’s block, which, by the way, proves that prayer doesn’t work. And I certainly never run out of opinions. So I just do whatever it is I do.

Yet I do not know why I do whatever it is I do. I often quote from Sabatini’s Scaramouche, a quote I’ve always wanted as my epitaph (if I were going to die), the opening line of that wonderful novel, “He was born with the gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad.”

It is here, in this virtual reality, on this mindless and meaningless blog, that I exercise, celebrate and pass along that gift. 

I guess that’s why.

Thank you for indulging my navel-gazing.

We now return to our regularly scheduled crap.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What We're Reading

Compiled by the editors of HoseMaster of Wine

EATER: Talia Baiocchi takes another “hyperfresh” look at innovative wine lists around the country. With a writing style far more hyper than fresh, Talia includes the wine list at New York’s Kentucky Fried Foie Gras, where the sommelier was force-fed through a tube, and whose list is exclusively dessert wines and Beano-infused spirits. It’s worth a gander. As usual, Talia also interviews the most arrogant sommeliers she can find on topics of little interest to anyone.

SAVEUR: A fascinating article on the trendiest wine region invading restaurants, the Jura. Poised to replace the much-reviled Austrian wine Grüner Veltliner, the wines of the Jura are the current darling of sommeliers eager to impress their peers with their knowledge of obscure wines consumers have no desire to taste. The article gives a brief background of the region’s most important grape Savagnin, and explains why it is particularly suited to produce wines of such profound indifference. Written in the usual overblown prose that has made Saveur a must-read for those suffering from eating disorders.

STEVE HEIMOFF: Lots of interesting topics on Steve Heimoff’s eponymous blog this week. First, Steve mourns the passing of the Hospice du Rhone in a post entitled “I Interviewed Everyone of Any Importance in My Book, Now in Paperback.” An earlier post redefines great wine writing, tracing a line from Saintsbury (“I rated their 09 Pinot Noir 88 points) through Leon Ames (“loved him with Fess Parker in ‘Daniel Boone’”) and ending with Steve Heimoff in a post entitled, “I, Ames, to Please Buy My Classic Book, now in Paperback.” And you won’t want to miss Steve’s post in which he waxes philosophical, and Brazilian, about the importance of tight shorts in winemaking entitled,
“Winemakers Go Commando in My Newest Book, Now Available, And It’s Important.”

MUTINEER MAGAZINE: OK, no, you’re right, this is not What We’re Reading. It’s just Wine X written for smaller attention spans. What was I saying?

WINE SPECTATOR: A lively profile of Wine Spectator’s Man of the Year, Dr. Jay Miller. James Laube on the 2009 vintage remarks, “It falls somewhere between the 2008 and 2010 vintages, especially around December.” Matt Kramer on why he tastes wines when he already knows whether he likes them or not before he pulls the corks. And Tim Fish on features writing in, “Why Delving Beneath the Surface is Overrated.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Jay McInerney spends an evening talking wine and sex with Dr. Ruth Westheimer. As it turns out, he knows just as little about sex, and he vows to make Dr. Ruth his bride No. 5. He says her new wine is, “…just like her, simple and easy, something you take to bed with you when your self-awareness that you’re a fraud kicks in and you don’t want to be alone.” Ooooh, can that boy write. Also, Lettie Teague on some subject, I forget what it is, maybe wines some movie star drinks, I don’t know, I can never remember anything she says after she says it.

PALATE PRESS: In a world of wine blog flavors, Palate Press is vanilla. Here’s the kind of challenging reading usually only found wrapped around Bazooka gum. But make sure and read Meg Houston “We Have a Problem” Maker’s post on how writing about wine is a matter of words, most of them just there to up the word count. W. Blinky Gray on how he’s foreseen every trend in the wine business over the past ten years, yet still doesn’t get enough credit, though it may just be that everyone’s jealous, a post certain to attract the attention of the Wine Blog Awards since he nominated it. And, finally, a powerful post on the purpose of Palate Press entitled “Submit Samples.”

VORNOGRAPHY: Alderpated concludes his photographic essay series illustrating common aromas found in wines with his favorite, “Lots of Expensive New Oak.” He also tastes 14,000 wines from the 2009 vintage of Bordeaux while visiting there for a weekend. 12,368 rate “About 9.5 to 10.0.” On that basis, Yarrowminded rates the vintage “8.5 to 9.0” Also, don’t miss his opinion piece, “If I don’t taste it, it’s not there.” Is the same true if no one reads it?

SERMONTATION: Tom Wark on his acceptance speech for the Best Wine Blog Award 2012, and why Portland should be honored to be hosting the Wine Bloggers Conference (“Consider this: Those 500 Wine Bloggers have nearly the IQ of the Algonquin Round Table. Not the members of the Round Table, the actual table.”)

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Napa Valley Wine Auction Booty

I had an exhausting weekend as the High Bidder at the Napa Valley Wine Auction. There were just so many Auction Lots that I needed to have. One of a kind Auction Lots that we in the 1% graciously bid up in order to give back—that is, spend the money we didn’t pay in taxes so that we can write it off as a charitable donation, all while lining our wine cellars with awesome, gigantic bottles of wine. You’re welcome. I even bought a Methuselah! Yes, that’s right, I purchased Peter Mondavi.

Oh, it’s going to seem like bragging, but I thought I might as well recap some of the Auction Lots that are now Mine, Mine, MINE! Humbly, I won’t disclose the dollar figures for each acquisition. Let’s just say I spent every last dime of the fortune I made buying FakeBook stock.

Lot14: Screaming Eagle Vertical in Large Format

Every vintage of Screaming Eagle in 3L bottles directly from the cellar of Rudy Kurniawan! These large formats, dating back to the inaugural vintage of 1992, were just recently bottled, guaranteeing that they are in premium condition. Included are the incredibly rare 100 point wine from 1997 packaged in a specially etched and signed Sparklett’s bottle, as well as the never-released 1978 Screaming Eagle “Isley Vineyard,” a field blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Ronnie. Yes, this is a wine with soul.

Lot18: Robert Mondavi’s Mummy

OK, I bought the Methuselah Peter Mondavi, how could I resist completing the set? Outside of his immediate family, his wife Margrit, sons Michael and Tim, and cousin It, few people knew that after his death Robert Mondavi was mummified. This involved draining his body of blood and replacing it with Woodbridge Fumé Blanc, which not many people know is often used by embalmers in place of formaldehyde. In warm climates, it’s mixed with lemonade to make a Cadaver Cooler. Robert was then wrapped in Robert Mondavi Winery logo tissue paper and carefully placed into a beautifully carved sarcophagus with his legs and neck carefully held in place by wooden stocks. Originally made to be displayed at COPIA next to Julia Child (who was stuffed and mounted—as she often was in real life), this is certainly a one-of-a-kind item. It will look great next to my taxidermied  head of Robert Lawrence Balzer (complete with horns).

Lot 37: Bondage Seminar with Jancis Robinson at Castello di Amorosa

I damn near got outbid on this Auction Lot. Fucking McInerney. But that wasn’t going to happen. This lot consists of a weekend under the tutelage of Mistress Jancis in the Torture Chamber at Castello di Amorosa (otherwise known as the Tasting Room). I can’t wait. First I will be stripped naked with my hands tied behind my back, and Mistress Jancis will expect me to keep her M.W. medallion off the floor using only my Inflatable Bladder Decanter. After four hours, I will be able to call my physician. Or the Guinness Book of World Records. If I fail, I will have to get down on my knees and lick her boots like a Bordeaux Chateau owner. Several spankings are included, one in front of M.W. candidates who will have to guess where I’m from based on my aromatics. Shouldn’t be that hard, I smell like every other butthole from Southern California. A complete library of wines produced by Castello di Amorosa is included, which I’m reporting to the Geneva Convention.

Lot 41: The Marvin Shanken Hot Air Balloon

Made specially for the Napa Valley Wine Auction, it’s a hot air balloon in the familiar shape of Wine Spectator Publisher Marvin Shanken. It’s like he has a twin! And with its revolutionary new burner, Marvin inflates faster than Tim Fish scores!

Lot 50: Former Cult Wine Collection

Here’s your trip down Memory Lane. A beautiful set of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons that were once cult wines, but now turn up on Parker chat rooms about as often as insight. Wow! Bryant Family, Blankiet, Vineyard 29, Gemstone, Dalle Valle…what a joy it will be to visit with these formerly unattainable wines. Like going to your 20th high school reunion and seeing how the cheerleaders and star athletes have aged so poorly. This is the best of Wine Connoisseur Schadenfreude. And at the 2022 Napa Valley Auction, you can bet I’ll bid on the Futo and Ovid and Bond.

Lot 58: Complete Set of 89 Point Cabernets

I mean, really, who wouldn’t want this glorious collection of every 89 point Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley? Talk about consistent! Every bottle guaranteed to elicit reactions like, “That’s pretty average,” and “Boy, this clown can’t make wine,” or my classic, “You know what this wine smells like? It smells like failure.” Now I’ll have gifts for everyone I don’t actually have feelings for. And it takes all the guess work out of knowing what to say and feel about the wines I open from the collection. They’re ALL THE SAME. In addition, the Auction Lot comes with two dozen Riedel glasses DESIGNED for 89 point wines. These specially commissioned glasses look a lot like coffee mugs so no one will know your shame. Georg Riedel decided absolutely nothing can make these wines smell better.