The Linoleum Project™ originated as a spoof of Abe Schoener's The Scholium Project, and as a reaction to a particularly loathsome puff-piece about Abe in the New York Times Magazine written by Bruce Schoenfeld. I returned to The Linoleum Project™ in this piece, originally written in September 2014. We're still talking about natural wines in 2017, but rarely about Scholium Project or the New York Times (the original piece may have been the first example of FAKE NEWS). I hope this piece is funny the second time around. It wasn't the first time.
Harvest is in full swing here at Splooge Estate, and while our
neighbors are bringing in their incredibly boring Cabernet Sauvignon,
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc—the so-called “workhorse” grapes
(“workhouse” because their only worth is to get you plowed)—we’re
harvesting more important varieties, varieties you haven’t heard of. The
best and most obscure are earmarked for The Linoleum Project™
. We thought we’d take a moment of your time to explain in a bit more detail the philosophy behind the wines of The Linoleum Project™
Unlike most wines produced, these are not wines aimed at pleasure.
These are wines meant to express the ultimate meaninglessness of life,
the charade of importance that is human existence—the very things that
make you want to drink. Everyone pays lip service to a philosophy of
winemaking, but they put the cart before the workhorse. At The Linoleum Project™
put philosophy first, and winemaking a distant second. We believe in
winemaking by philosophy. We are teachers first, winemakers second. We
truly believe in the old saw that, “Those who can do, those who Kant
Perhaps the best way to understand our
winemaking by philosophy is to understand how each individual wine is
made, how philosophy and overthinking combine to make wines that reflect
not only their terroir, but each person’s hopelessness in the face of a
godless universe. Certainly one can enjoy wines that only express a
sense of place, a minerally and precise Grand Cru Chablis, for example.
But there is a price to be paid for living an unexamined life. Isn’t it
far more rewarding and satisfying to murder an innocent oyster with a
blunt knife and then wash it down with a crisp white wine that
celebrates not only the oyster’s salinity, but your own feeling that
life is worthless, nothing but a snotty slide down eternity’s esophagus?
Of course. Welcome to our world.
vineyard that is the source of our Gaglioppo is in the Carneros region
of Napa Valley. While many wineries have complained about the
unfortunate earthquake that struck the region this year, at The Linoleum
Project™ we celebrate it. In truth, our Gaglioppo perfectly reflects
its tumultuous terroir. Put your nose in a glass of any vintage. What do
you smell? Faults! You might be tempted to think that those faults are
the result of poor winemaking. This reflects your usual simpleminded
approach to wine, an approach that believes pleasure is wine’s chief
goal. Don’t feel bad. Your limited intelligence is how you became one of
our mailing list customers. In truth, it’s philosophy that defines our
When we reflect upon our own character, it’s
our faults that plague us. As Kafka memorably put it, “Wir sind ein
Haufen Scheisse.” (“We’re a pile of shit,” which considering his
intestinal problems, is a loose translation.) So not only will our 2014
Gaglioppo reflect its origins in Calabria, it will also reflect man’s
ultimate unworthiness. We are our faults, and our faults are us. We live
our lives trying to embrace our faults. It’s this basic philosophy that
informs the wines of The Linoleum Project™
. If you love our
wines, you must embrace faults. You cannot love yourself if you cannot
love our faulty Gaglioppo. This is how wine can enrich your life—through
following philosophy instead of cold, hard, unfeeling chemistry.
2014 Ebola Gialla
very much like the look of our 2014 Ebola Gialla clusters. Ebola Gialla
is a very rare variety, thought to be Ribolla Gialla crossed with a
fruit bat. Over the past few vintages, our Ebola has done very poorly
with the press. James Laube called it, “maybe the worst white wine I’ve
ever had that wasn’t Grüner.” Robert Parker thought it “despicable,
though it helped me lose some weight.” Jon Bonné says our Ebola is
“maybe the finest white wine coming out of Napa Valley, though, in
truth, I hate wine.” These quotes are exactly the point of our Ebola.
At The Linoleum Project™
we take a nihilistic approach to our Ebola. Nietzche is our guiding
light, and it was his assertion that all values are baseless, that
absolutely nothing can be communicated, that nothing is known. This is
the precise basis for all scoring systems and wine reviews—indeed the
100 point scale is baseless, and wine descriptions communicate nothing.
“Nothing is known” is pretty much the resumé for Neal Martin. So it
seems appropriate as a philosophy of winemaking as well. We even take
it a step further, utilizing the truth of existential nihilism (not just
Nihilism Lite)—the certainty that life itself is meaningless. Then
isn’t winemaking itself meaningless? Isn’t trying to assign meaning to
wine futile and ignorant? Isn’t this apparent when you read wine blogs?
Our Ebola reflects the words of Nietzche, “Nihilism is . . . not only
the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts
one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys” Starting with your liver.
encourage you to share a glass of our Ebola at your next meaningless
meal with someone you don’t particularly care lives or dies. This is
more than likely yourself.
is a variety that has gained some popularity in recent years, perhaps
because, like life itself, it’s the same thing backwards or forwards. In
France, Tannat is the primary grape in Madiran, and an important
component of many wines from Cahors. In terms of philosophy, it may have
been tempting to place Descartes before Cahors, or maybe mullah over
how mad Iran is. But, fundamentally, at The Linoleum Project™
hate Tannat. Which is why each vintage we seek it out. We don’t believe
in working with varieties we actually enjoy. That would give us
pleasure, and pleasure leads to complacency, a quality prevalent in
winemaking today. No, we make our Tannat with a focus on anhedonia, and
we think that makes it taste better because it is incapable of
In our view, too often we expect
pleasure from wine. We reach for a bottle with an expectation of joy and
sensual pleasure. Only to be routinely disappointed. We want you to
know that our Tannat is made with the philosophy that life is better
when you are unable to experience happiness, and that our wine is
designed to make sure you do not. In this respect, our Tannat shares
much with rating wines on a numerical scale, for isn’t that very scale
about anhedonia? Can you consume a wine rated 89 and enjoy it knowing
that somewhere someone richer than you, smarter than you, and better
looking than you is drinking a wine rated 100? When you drink 89 point
wine aren’t you denying yourself pleasure, illustrating your basic
self-contempt, but, more importantly, not caring. Not caring because you
cannot feel joy anyway? This is our Tannat in a nutshell.
Enjoy it alone, in the darkness of your soul, with a nice venison stew.