Thursday, December 11, 2014

EST EST EST!!! Unchained Part 1

Est! Est!! Est!!!.  What the fuck is it? It’s a wine with a strange name that has a couple of different stories outlining how anything was names such.  I mean, I could see it being a car maybe.
 The Est! Est!! Est!!! gets over 300 miles to the gallon, it has a sleek, elongated golf ball appearance for better wind resistance.  It goes 0 to 60 in never, because hey, fuck convention.  It comes in many non-conformist colors such as Fusia, Cheerwine, and Star Wars.  Get yours today.
I’m not going to relay the stories told to the tourist of the DOC in Italy.  It’s a small and somewhat boring story behind why a simple yet enjoyable wine made from a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia could get a name that could either be completely bad-to-the-bone fucking ass, or something that is painted a platinum fleck lime green where they didn’t quite get the clear coat right so it kind of looks like it has a weird haziness to it.  Not in a cool way. 
I’m going to tell a completely different story of Est! Est!! Est!!!, which will henceforward be referred to as Est because fuck typing those exclamation marks.  
The Middle Ages was a shitty place.  There was a disease that was killing off huge numbers of people.  There was a mass of ignorants who toiled for life under a handful of very wealthy people, and the church was taking over everything.  It was just a God awful time to be alive. As everyone now knows the general awefulness of those times caused the world collapse on itself. The sky filled with fire, the machines took over, then the sharks came, and now…desert.  Mankind, like an underarm rash, persisted through it all, but there was no law.  No real law anyway.
There was one man. At the beginning no one thought he would save the world.  At one time he was just a simple policeman.  Times were hard in this era of sand.  Some people called what was left of the Earth the Outback, after a car that was littered to every corner of it.  This policeman saw the beginning of the end for his normal way of life.  He chose to take his wife and son into the country side to hide from the turmoil that was afoot.  The man’s name was Est. 
An Order of the Robed Berserker Monks tracked Est and his family down.  When they arrived Est wasn’t there.  When Est got home all that were left were the drown, charred, and bullet ridden remains of everyone he ever loved.   Est shed a single tear and went and put on his all leather policeman’s super uniform.  He sequestered the finest donkey the MFP (Mother Fucking Police) had at their disposal, the Mach VII.  The Mach VII was never meant to be actually ridden as it was still in its prototype phase but such trifles don’t concern Est in the least.
The leader of the Berserker Monks was only known as Doom.  Doom fled across the desert on foot.  Est followed.  The barren, plague ridden land of Italy at the time was at the very least was mostly a no man’s land.  The sick, the murderous, and the doctors donning beaks intended to fuel the nightmares of all the generations to follow roamed throughout the land always ready to strike out at a moment’s notice.  And that’s not to mention the lepers and witches.  Don’t even get me started on those. 
Est and Mach VII made it very far their first day with their blazing pace of seven miles an hour and eventually came to a camp with a campfire that still had smoldering embers.  Had Doom fled early?  Did he only travel by night?  Est knew that when he left he was at least a day and a half behind.  The recently abandoned camp was a good sign.  He restoked the fire and set up to get some sleep.
When morning came he realized that Mach VII was gone.  Est jumped out of his makeshift sleeping bag and searched around the area, occasionally finding large blood spots in the sand.  It didn’t take long for Est to realize the inviting camp had been a trap.  Doom and his men had leveled the playing field.  None the less they still couldn’t be too far ahead. 
Est gathered his things and set off on foot in the direction he knew Doom would travel.  The only direction he could, toward the Thieves’ City.  It was about a day’s walk.
The journey was uninterrupted.  He was able to sit for a while here and there but he found that if he just kept an easy pace he could make up a lot of distance.  The sun was beginning to approach the horizon and Est came to a large dune he chose to scale.  He decided he’d set up camp at top so he could have full view of the area around him.  As he scaled the side of the mound he realized there was a faint light emanating from the other side.  He knew that Thieves’ must lie on the other side.

Est rested at the top of dune as planned.  From the darkness he watched the city below him writhe with the movement of its inhabitants.  He was close enough that the noises and smells of the metropolis were all around him, though faint.  He wasn’t sure what kind of clout a man like Doom had in such a city but he imagined it must be quite a bit.  Est was prepared to kill each and every person down there to get to the man who ruined his life.  He’d begin in the morning.
Est was awoke with a start.  It was still dark.  Someone was nearby.  Then there was a quick pain in the back of his head followed by blackness.
The room he awoke in was subterranean.  Everything was cold and hard.  His head was a cacophony of pain.  His vision was initially blurred but as it began to correct itself he realized there was someone in the room with him.   She was dressed in grey robes and had the largest hair he’d ever seen on a human.
“Welcome back, Mr. Est, to the land of the living.  We’ve been expecting you.  When Doom told me he hadn’t been followed I realized he’s an even bigger idiot than I initially believed.  You see, this has all been prophesied.  Your coming here.  The revenge you will attempt to carry out”
“Oh yeah? And how is that supposed to end Ms…”
“Tina Turner.  My name is Tina Turner.  I am the Queen, Ruler, Judge, jury and executioner here. Everything you see around you and everything you saw before you from your little perch there at the top of the east dune.   Lucky for you, I’m no fan of that homicidal jackass Monk Doom either.”  Tina lurched down in her seating position, resting her elbows on her knees.  “So what I’m going to do is let you fight him to the death this time tomorrow in my Thunderdome.  Had you arrived here by yourself Mr. Est then I would have likely taken you to the mines where they would work you until your death in 4 days.  Always four days.”
“So now you’re going to give me what I want?  What’s the catch?”
“Oh there is no catch.  Doom isn’t the kind of person I can’t have executed honey.” She grins and lightly shakes her head. “With him being affiliated with the church and all… But if someone were to work him up into a tizzy over how this lone guy could have the audacity to follow him, a man of the cloth, and get him good and mad about it that he DEMANDS to be allowed the opportunity to fight you to the death.”  She looked back up at EST “I need him gone.  I need you to kill him.  If you do, you walk away from here alive and with enough supplies to get you to the next settlement.”

  “Fuck, Deal”
Goddamned right deal.
To be Continued...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Corvina McShoegaze

          I was all set to make Corvina out to be some kind of blood thirsty child of the night. I mean, Corvina sounds like it could be the name of some pre-goth shoe-gaze band or a character in an Anne Rice novel.
Corvina was going to creep silently through the night and feast on the vines of other grapes to a faint beat of some glam-techno in the background all while doing some incredibly gay shiz that's not gay because he's a vampire. That is if I were to decide that Corvina would be a man. I guess the name lends itself to a woman a little better if you're one to bite off on all that gender roll stuff that we've been programming into our brains since at least the early 90's. So one would have to think that if Corvina were a lady then there would be a corset and purple bodice somewhere in the mix. Maybe her last name would be something like Dragonmauler. Corvina Dragonmauler, destroyer of worlds.
Why do all the dragons I maul have boners?
Turns out none of these stories are representative of the grape itself. Corvina is a tiny red grape grown mainly in Veneto, located in the Tre Venezia of Northeastern Italy. It's has thick skin, a deep color, and loves the everloving shit out of the sun. This description already rules out the fact that it’s a vampire.   It actually loves the sun so much that in some cases the stuff is picked and then set out on straw mats, sometimes in open air, to obtain a sort of quasi-raisin quality. The grapes are then pressed and used to make the wine Amarone. In some cases the post-press leftovers from the Amarone, known as the pomace, will then have a run of fresh Valpollicella wine run over it and allowed to ferment a second time producing the wine Ripasso. Other names for Ripasso include Baby Amorone, Suede Shoe Grape Juice, and Drank.
Getting to the heart of things Valpollicella is the wine Corvina is most known for. Valpo has to consist of at least 70% Corvina and in a way Amarone and Ripasso are just other "kinds" of Valpollicella.
There's a large range between those wines. Valpo by itself can be a somewhat light, fruit driven wine with an above average acidity. It's consumption wine. Consumed with food, by itself, or with codeine. Anyway you want to go about it, this wine is best when put in your belly at a young age.
Ripasso on the other hand has quite a bit more depth and complexity to it.  For the most part it retains the fruity characteristics of the Vlapo but has an extra angle added to it from the process of passing it over the pomace of the Amarone.  These wines are a bit more agreeable to aging because the acidity of the Valpo is still strong and wine receives another helping of tannins from the skins, seeds, stems, etc which it is run through.
          Amarone is the grand-daddy.  It’s the most expensive wine made of the three because the process of making it is so tedious and time consuming.  These wines not only age well but usually need a few years of shelf time before they open up enough to be enjoyable.  As I said before the grapes are picked and then laid out on straw mats in a process known as appassimento.  Amarone in Italian means extra bitter.
          But wait, there’s more.  Corvina can also be found in Recioto which is made in the same fashion as Amarone except that at some point the fermentation process is halted before completion (usually due to the presence of Botrytis) resulting in a sweet wine.  Since I referred to Amarone as the grand-daddy earlier I guess it’s only fair to say that Recioto is the grand-mama of Corvina based grapes because it’s sweet and it’ll get you drunk.
          Annnnd it’s also used in the neighboring region of Verona (home of Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lovers) to make a wine called Bardolino.  Bardolino isn’t much different from the Valpo in that it’s made from predominately Corvina with Rondinella and Molinara thrown in for good measure.  However Bardolinos are allowed to contain up to a certain percentage of Sangiovese, Barbera, and Gargenaga.  Gargenaga is most known for attacking Tokyo in the 1960’s and getting into a battle to the death with Mothra.

According to the Urban Dictionary they're called waffle goths
          So really it’s difficult to make fun of such a hard working grape.  The stuff pops up everywhere.  You won’t find it at the Waffle House sustaining itself on coffee and hand-rolled cigarettes regurgitating Poe and arguing about who’s a better fit for Pasty McMouthbreather from the Twilight movies.  You also won’t find it in a gypsy caravan telling fortunes based on what its glass eye does when it submerges it in rain water collected from a place in Wallachia where it’s believed Vlad Tepes once took a piss.
          Corvina is sort of like that girl from class named Moonbeam Sparkle because her parents were loaded on acid while filling out her birth certificate but she gets great grades, takes AP classes, and thinks Ronald Regan is the greatest thing that ever happened to this country.  Corvina is an over-achiever and a real life version of the show Family Ties. 
          Given the grape’s versatility it’s no wonder it’s so popular.  A single wine maker can pump out Valpolicellas like Dugger kids keeping the cash flow coming in while making some of it into Ripasso thus giving the wine some sweat equity and getting to charge quite a bit more, all the while crafting Amarone which satisfies their desire to produce poetry in a bottle.  This kind of system is what all wine makers would like to achieve I imagine.  Except maybe for the ones that just want to make great wine and die poor.  That’s cool too.
My nose was stuffed up from all my boyfriend's glitter

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Keys like a Pre-School Piano

          Been a while. Wasn’t sure if I was ever going to have the time to sit in this chair and throw together some words about life…or wine. Whatever. It’s all living.  My high-powered desktop is on the floor in the corner of the office awaiting the ultimate nothing.  So here I am typing away on my wife’s laptop which she uses to heard the random donkey who keeps breaking into the front door.  She thwaps that goddamned thing like it owes her money and sends it down the hall toward the back where the fucker belongs.  Many mouths, four human, one canine, one feline. The last thing I need is to figure out how to budget for donkey food.
          The keyboard on this thing looks like the inside of a prize-fighter’s mouth after the last round.  The space button is a finicky bitch and only wants to be mutilatingly smashed in its perfect center before giving up that space, that empty space between goings on I need so bad.          
           I got brand new shiny gig.  A lot like the old gig but much better.  There is a higher level of stress but man some of these wines are mind-bending.  Drinking a Syrah from winemaker in Paso.  Second day it’s been open and it’s still hiding everything like some twisted Burlesque show put on by the school of the blind.  She’s closed.  If I give her another day these tiny nuances will become underfed hounds looking for solace in my nose and on my tongue.  I hope anyway.
          The company I work for is something like 4000 times the size of the company I left.  There are responsibilities, which is one of the reasons ithas taken me so long to get back to the keys.  Training, learning, tasting, spitting? Bourbon, and other such corporate necessities which need to be tended to.  I think I’m at a point where I can write this.  Thank you all for your interest.  I will continue to post when I can and hopefully some really silly brain vomit will come out of there and we can all have a laugh.  I see that I still get quite afew hits daily and for that thanks again.  I’ll make it worth your while. 
          After all, training is in session again and I am going to try and achieve every single wine ranking known of this earth by the end of 2013. What that means for you is more varietal history pieces and what that means for me is crushing devastation at the failure of it all and a new year’s resolution for 2014 to set obtainable goals.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

One Crazy Summer

        I spend a lot of time in a vehicle. My day consists of getting in my car, driving to a destination, getting out, going inside long enough to jabber about some wine or beer or whatever, and then going back out to get into the car again. It was 100 degrees today. I only have to be in an account for three minutes before my car becomes a smelting factory, complete with melting T1000 and Sarah Conner’s rock hard pect boobs. A Turkish bath on wheels.

Insert Bob Seager Lyric Here...
        I was warned about the summers by my friend who hooked me up with the job but at the time it was late April and I wasn’t able to truly wrap my mind around how bad it would become. He also taught me two other tricks to help me get through the day, one of which I embraced immediately and have since left behind, the other I thought was extremely strange at first but have since come to fully understand.
        The first tip he taught me was to always have the music going. Not the radio. Music, my music, of my choosing. The radio is a completely obnoxious thing that will only grate away at your nerves and soul until eventually you’re just a blow-up doll driving around. He would match music to moods or use music to induce moods. One day as we were driving around and he was introducing me to the people that would eventually come to hold the size of my paycheck within the palms of their hands he was in a particularly melancholy mood. His music choice for the day was Morrissey. We’d had this discussion before. I’m a huge fan of British rock and he being British, is a fan as well. Bands like The Stone Roses, The Verve, Primal Scream, Pulp and Blur all make me moist behind the knees. One thing we could never agree on was the worthiness of Morrissey. The Smiths yes, there are a lot of one note shoe-gaze guitarist out there that owe everything they do to Johnny Mar. All this emo hipster bs that’s flooding the indie scene? Johnny Mar’s fault. In the future I plan on sending a terminator back in time to kill his mum.
       That sounds hardcore and I actually like Johnny Mar a lot. So imagine what I’m going to have my terminator do to baby Morrissey. I won’t speak of it, just imagine…
      The other tidbit he taught me was at a time when you roll up to an account and it’s hard to think about the reality of what you’re going to have to face when you walk through those doors into god knows what kind of situation, where mullets are still worn by those on the path of the righteous and somehow the whole place smells like spit. You park your car and from there behind the wheel you tilt back your head and unleash a ripping, Rick Flair-like WOOOO while beating the shit out of the steering wheel. Not a pattering but a severe beating. You’d be amazed at the abuse a steering wheel can handle.
       So, I thought the music ritual was brilliant and the Wooo ritual was odd and maybe even a little off putting. I have since completely swapped that outlook. Recently I was sparked by a challenge put forth by Matt Cutts on a TED Talk to try something for thirty days. I decided my thirty day challenge would be to go without any kind of audio stimulation throughout the course of the day. This may not sound like a big deal to many of you but for someone who hates the sound of quiet spaces and spends up to four hours a day in a car, it was huge.
      What I found was that left to its own devices my mind is a strange companion. Thoughts that day ranged from what the true definition of a coupe is, to why I don’t write more often, to what I can do to be a better husband and father. These were some of the more normal thoughts. There were other thoughts that were…less normal. I’ve only been doing this for three days now and what I’ve learned already is that no music or talk + 100 degree weather = my car being an awesome shamanistic hot yoga wigwam on wheel s for serious meditation. I’ve decided that the no-noise of the car is a nice sanctuary between stops as opposed to filling the space with whatever mood altering sounds I happened to be into that day. I use the term “no-noise” because a fifteen year old Chevy Blazer is hardly quiet. But surprisingly the odd clanks emitted from the stipplebob and wheezing of the flux gyro-gerter offer no real distraction. After the initial 30 days I may go back to occasionally listening to music but for now I like the emptiness, which I can then fill with thoughts. Who knows, maybe someday those thoughts will lead to something.

On the other hand I have come to love the pre-account Flair. Sometimes I will do it when I don’t even need to. I’ll just roll up to an account and let out a huge WOOOO just to feel like Rick James, even if only for a nano-moment. Maybe one day I’ll get up the courage to do it as I walk in the front door. Stranger things have happened in most liquor stores. Sometimes I’ll do it while driving down the street or at a stop light while staring into the car next to me. I wonder what I look like from the other car, a man, heaving and red-faced with bulging eyes and a nightmarish o-face. I hope it makes their day a little.

Or frightens them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We're all gettin old...(A repost)

The time has come.  I drank the last bottle of this last Thanksgiving.  It was the best of the six I got to try, including the two mags. I like this post and the one that follows is more in this style so I thought i'd throw this out there as a transition.

Recently while digging through our warehouse where we store all our wine I came across an old looking box tucked behind a stack of newer boxes. This kind of thing happens more than you’d think. When you have these large pallets of new wine coming in and being hastily rearranged so that each and every one of them has a place, things can get lost in the mix. In this situation what got lost was a case of 1995 Calera Mt. Harlan Chardonnay. Then I found another case of the same wine only in 1.5 Liter Magnums.
Anyone who knows me well enough can tell you that Calera is one of my favorite wines made by one of my favorite wine makers, Josh Jensen. His story’s a good one but I want to focus more on the singular bottle of wine and even to some degree what I and we, as a nation, have all been through over the last fifteen years.
Not having ever seen a bottle from Calera made before 2001 the bottle itself was a bit foreign to me. Instead of the foil top he uses now there was a clear plastic top. If you’re unfamiliar with Calera, Josh Jensen now puts every tidbit imaginable of information pertaining to the wine on the back of the bottle, brix, aging, fermentation, location of vineyard, rain, what kind of music it was into, etc. The 95 bottle only had a colorful map of all his vineyards both pinot and chardonnay. It was the twentieth anniversary of the wine so 1995 and the words Twentieth Anniversary Vintage were scrawled in gold across the label. All the bottles had developed a healthy amount of tartrates throughout and one of the magnums actually had stalactites of tartrates hanging down from the bottom of the cork. It was a wondrous thing to behold. For a moment I felt like Indiana Jones, I had to look over my shoulder to make sure a giant boulder wasn’t rolling my way. When I saw there was no boulder or even spider webs of unbelievable density, I had to wonder, could this wine possibly still be any good?
Let’s see, what was going on in America in 1995? The economy was a flaming en fuego of action as the DotCom industry was blowing up and the Dow ended the year at 5117. As of today it’s over twice that. A gallon of gas would set you back a little over a dollar which was nice because I loved to drive my little Fiat Spider all over town, that is, when it was running. A pack of cigarettes only cost a buck and you could smoke the damn things just about anywhere you wanted to. Microsoft released its ground breaking Windows 95 which officially integrated MSDOS and Windows into one user-friendly interface. While all this was happening JavaScript was deployed. And as if that’s not enough techie innovations for you the DVD was introduced.
Most of the techie computer breakthroughs were happening in the Silicon Valley in Central California. Not much more than a stone’s throw away, outside Hollister, on top of a limestone pile known as Mt. Harlan a man named Josh Jensen was no doubt obsessing over six tiny vineyards of grapes, some pinot noir, some viognier, and some chardonnay. I can’t really think of a sharper contrast than that. On one end there are tiny, copper and gold strewn pieces of plastic and on the other, lush, ripe grapes hanging from a vine waiting to be turned into God’s nectar. All I really know about how much of a hand in his wines Josh Jensen has is what I learned from a book called The Heartbreak Grape by Marq De Villiers. Apparently Jensen has a very heavy hand in the production of his wines. A buddy of mine once said there are two kinds of wine makers in this world, those that have purple stains on their finger tips and those that don’t. I imagine Jensen being the stained fingertip type. The character de Villiers portrayed in his book was part artist, part mad scientist.
I can’t say much about how the growing season was in 1995 but what I can say is that by the time my little bottle of 95 Mt. Harlan Chardonnay made it to the critics it was raved about. Spectator reviewed it in 1998 and gave it a 90 but Mr. Parker, who reviewed it around the same time gave it a 92. What struck me though was as I did research on 1995 Calera Chardonnay I found a lot of these bottles were being opened recently. One blog I ran across had a review done on a bottle in early September of this year so what I’m doing with this article isn’t as groundbreaking as I originally thought.
What I do know about my bottle is our company received it about four years ago with our first Calera order we placed. It makes me wonder if Josh Jensen does this sort of thing on purpose just to prove how age worthy his wines can be. After all how many other American wineries would ship out a fifteen year old bottle of wine so nonchalantly.
In 1995 I was all of seventeen years old. As I said earlier I drove a little Fiat and I smoked like a chimney. I was still a little rough around the edges; still driven by teen anger. I fancied myself a poet and would pen reams of Bukowski-esque, self-deprecating lines I still have today for some reason. The oak in my soul was probably a bit over powering and the acidity in my personality was likely too high. I bet the same can be said for the 95 Calera. It’s a wine that has no doubt aged gracefully. I didn’t get to try it while it was young but now it shows an age and grace which can only come from a strong foundation of character and good smattering of experience. I can only hope the same can be said for me.
So, in a way, I found a kindred spirit in this wine. The oak was still there but more in control, the acidity was perfect, less in your face, and the almost neon color showed that the wine was something quite unique. This wine probably raced its little speedster up and down the PCH, metaphorically of course, when it was young but now it was content with four doors, as long as there was a big engine and some cornering ability. It’s a wine that has come to grips with the fact that everything and everyone gets old, it’s those who go with it as opposed to fighting it that come out peachy. I don’t drive a little sports car now and I may never again but I don’t want to trade what I have now for anything from back then. First off I was lonely. Now I have a family I love with everything I have and though life still throws a whole new smattering of dilemmas at me, I feel I have the experience to overcome them as opposed to just smoking cigarettes and being angry about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still angry. It’s built in from my father’s side of the family. That’s why I also love Paul Hobbs Russian River Chardonnay, a wine that is oaked and angry right down to its very core. But that’s what wine is all about. My music collection doesn’t only consist of Bach, nor does it only consist of Tool. So why on Earth should my wine cellar only have one kind of wine in it?
Calera’s Mt. Harlan chardonnay is now, as of the 2007 vintage, still a wonderful melody of wine, yet at a much higher volume. When it too gets older I like to think it will become soft and fuzzy, like listening to an old record. There will be music, it will be great, but it will also be warm and more complex coming through a tube amp and out of a pair of forty year old Harmon Kardon speakers as opposed to the hard edge my tiny computer speakers give to music. On the other hand the speed at which I can access that music on my computer as opposed to getting out an LP, setting the needle just right, and doing that over and over again for each individual song if they don’t happen to be in sequence on the same LP, is light years faster. Basically, beautiful things both old and new each have their own shine and man I love the shine of this wine.
In a way I’m going to be sad to see these bottles go. This wine has reached the best it’s going to be. When it sees the other side of the hill it will be gone to the world forever and in its way that is a very sad thing to a wine nerd like me. Sometimes as a salesman, tester, sniffer, student, and lover of wine I find myself plowing through bottle after bottle from all over the world with only the opinion to form an opinion about what’s in the glass. Every now and again a wine such as this comes along and completely knocks me off my feet and it’s as if I’m reliving that first moment something about wine clicked, and I was addicted. Every now and again a bottle comes along and it’s like that first high. As a wine junky I cruise through my existence in search of those moments.
So thanks again, little bottle of Calera. I took extensive notes but unfortunately my mind and tongue are not like a hard drive and don’t have the ability to recall smell and taste exactly as experienced. On the other hand, who knows what treasures lay ahead…

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Manhardtraube: An Odessy of Soft-Core Porn

      Grüner Veltliner. It has been the hipsters little darling for too fucking long. Now it’s time for us all to drink it so they can move on with their Fernet and try and not barf all over each other’s rolled up overalls. I’ve been chugging on Grüner longer than any of them has anyhows. Grüner is the white that seems quiet, austere from outside the bottle but as soon as it breaks into your glass it’s all pepper and asparagus. Maybe some white cracked pepper but the pepper I was referring to was jalapeno or sweet green and hold the shit is that…peach? Citrus? Dear, sweet baby Jesus who let that party animal out of its glassy cage?
You probably haven't heard of me.
     Grüner Veltliner is believed to date back to Rome. Its name comes from Veltlin in Northern Italy. However, that name didn’t begin popping up in writing until around 1855. Before that it was known by the abusive name of Weißgipfler. A sinister sounding name to be sure. A thing that might’ve been dropped during a Blitzkrieg of London. But that’s not what it is of course for that would make the Londoners far too happy wouldn’t it?
      During the great DNA testing extravaganza done during the 90’s it was discovered that one of Gruner’s parents was Traminer. The DNA from the other parent was found from a weakened, abandoned old single vine which was found in ST. Georgen near Eisenstaedt, Austria. It has since come to be known as the St. Georgener-Rebe or Traminer’s baby daddy. Plans are in the works to begin some Jurassic Park style cultivation and bring it back into cultivation…God help us.
      Grüner is grown in limited spaces. Traditionally it is thought of as an Austrian wine but it’s also very popular in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In my opinion Austrian Gruner is the best and Kamptal , Kremstal and Wachau produce the most serious examples of the wine. GrüVe has become the way those of us who are hip to the sitch say it. Jancis Robinson has called it “a distinctly groovy grape.” Christ, Robinson. Jerry Bear’s dead, the show is over. How many times do we have to tell you not to smoke before a tasting? At least thousands. Some of my other favorites names include: Tarant Bily, Grüner Weissgipfler, Zöldveltelini (that one sounds as though it could have a beef with Superman in the future), Manhardtraube, Bielospicak, Vetlinac (let that one roll off your tongue, u are Baltic now no?), and…yeah, that’s about it.
      Grüner’s had its setbacks as well. In 1985 it was discovered that some wineries were using diethylene glycol (a substance not found in anti-freeze as was originally reported) as an additive to add sweetness and body. The media freaked out and said the Austrians were adding anti-freeze to their wines to poison the rest of world thus clearing the way for the Hapsburgs to have their playground back. Austrian wine laws have since banned this practice though.
      Did you know well-made Grüner is totally age worthy? It is. Not all of it, but a good deal of the more serious stuff becomes a beautiful beast with some age. The shit is so badassed that Mr. Terry Theise believes some of it isn’t even drinkable until it’s at least a decade old. Who’s Terry Theise? He’s a bad motherfucker that’s who. He’s the main pusher man of Grüner here in the states. Well, good Grüner anyway. He’s the Darth Vader and Han Solo of Grüner. He’s the Alpha and the Omega. He’s the guns of Navarone. He’s a mushroom cloud laying motherfucker, motherfucker. If you see his name on the back of the bottle you know you’re about to get some of the good stuff.
      On that note I’ve noticed that the big companies are starting to bring in Grüner that they’ve put in cute bottles and made sassy so that the young girls it’s targeted at will think they’re special for buying it and maybe it’ll garner them some attention at the pool soiree they’re attending. “Gruner Beltliner? What’s that?”
      “Oh girl, it’s the coolest new wine there is. I wouldn’t expect you to know about it because you have to be pretty knowledgeable (found on a giant display in liquor store) to even know it exist.”
      “Wow, I didn’t know you knew so much about wine.”
      “Yeah, it’s just one of my things. I like to find new and exciting wines to drink while I listen to my favorite band Arctic Urethra on my iPad and edit my photos for Instagram.”
      And right then is when a pack of jackals which escaped from the zoo run through the pool party and eat no one but that person. Because jackals are scavengers and hipsters are already dead on the inside.
      It’s hot outside. Grüner’s a steal for the quality of wine it is and what you pay. Stay away from the bottles with sun glasses on them and go for the ones with the simple labels and names that belong in the videogame Wolfenstein and you’ll probably be alright. Look for Mr. Theise’s name somewhere on the bottle and I guarantee you’ll be alright. Take the asparagus off the grill, twist cap, and enjoy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gewurtz..."Of course I'm on the fucking list!"

      There is a wine that has become a lust bucket for me personally in the last few years. Its origins go back a respectable distance. Some think of it as a sissy wine but those people are scared of awesome. Like any old wine it answers to many names, Frencher, Gertie (I especially like that one. It makes me want to ring the operator on one of those old timey phones and tell Gertie to dial the number for the strip club and tell Don Knotts to get his face out of Lexus’s crotch.), Fleischweiner, Christkindeltraube, Roth Weiner( that one makes fun of itself), or Roter Traminer. Fleischweiner sounds like something that will require antibiotics and a series of stomach shots to clear up.
    Gewürztraminer is a pink-skinned grape that enjoys cool climates so that it can drive one of those Benzes with the cool headlight wipers that stop working sometime on the way home from the dealership. It also enjoys long walks in the snow and Asian food.
      It’s known that Gewurtz is the offspring a green-skinned grape known as Traminer which has been known to exist for at least 1000 years and was originally cultivated in the Town of Tramin in South Tyrol, a German-speaking providence in northern Italy in a region known as Alto Adige. Alto Adige is also known for Pinot Noirs, Pinot Biancos and Pinot Grigios that don’t totally suck balls. It’s thought by some that Traminer is identical to another grape known as Savagnin Blanc which is nothing like Sauvignon Blanc but one of them was definitely a fucking unoriginal bastard. Around about the 1500’s the grape made its way down the Rhine eventually landing in Alsace. Sometime over this time the Gewurtz was added, the grapes began to take on their more reddish tint and became known as Spicy Traminer 3 Pepper, Savagnin Rose, or just Guwertztraminer.
     The wine is now grown all over the world. In my opinion it does best in Germany and Alsace but I’ve had at least one good example from most other regions in the world.
     The first Gewurtz I ever had several years ago was produced at a winery in Oregon that was labeled as a late harvest. It was viscous and the color looked like the piss of a man who’d spent many dehydrated days in the desert…drinking his own piss to stay alive. Beyond that it was one of the most beautiful tasting and aromatic wines I’ve ever come across. I worked at a wine bar and it was hard to convince the patrons to try it. The color really was off-putting in a way. But everything else about this wine sang. It was beautiful. It was also the beginning of an aggressive search and destroy mission to find Gewurtz from around the globe. I wanted the best. Still searching. That shit’s expensive.

That's Right...Boobs.

      I’ve always thought of Gewurtz as an insanely exotic wine, like a Ferrari with boobs. Or an albino black stallion. It can have high levels of sweetness but I have yet to come across one I’d say is dry. Acidic to some degree, but not dry. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I just have yet to come across one.
      Gewurtz can have a nose that is filled with aromas all vying for your attention, like hookers in a forgotten alley. They claw their way over one another to come out on top. Rose pedals and apricots, slate, sweet citrus, peach, the list goes on depending on where the stuff is from. Yes, there is an element of spice. Not spice box spice or grandaddy’s box with the bag of oregano and the hand rolled cigarettes in it but a subtle spice. Almost an effect that hangs in the back ground rather than being a major player. It gives the wine more definition. More charm. I’ve never had a straight Traminer but I imagine it may be a bit of a Lord Boringsworth from Snoozington.
      Because Gewurtz has a reputation of being a sweet and delicate wine many people think it won’t kick their ass and thus have a problem taking it seriously. Gewurtz won’t kick anyone’s ass. But it does carry a Derringer which somehow has a thirty seven round clip on it in case someone wants to act up and talk smack about its momma. Sure it’s pink but that doesn’t make it any less good at killin’. I have a problem as picturing this grape as being masculine but as a woman it’s up there with the Ripley from Alien or Trinity from The Matrix in its badassedness. Or Ripley squeezed into Trinty’s leathery…

Back to the point. Actually, after that I’ve got nothing.