NEWS FROM THE WACKY WORLD of WINE
LAWSUIT OVER SOMMELIER
(2009 USA) The World Wrestling Federation is
grappling with a Philadelphia wine "academy" over the use of the term
routinely advertises various performances as a "SmackDown," a
proprietary term they created to promote their theater.
The Wine School of Philadelphia promoted a wine wine class as a "Sommelier
SmackDown," incurring the wrath of the World Wrestling Federation.
While it may seem a bit silly, it seems the WWF only put the moves on the wine
school after the academy attempted to trademark the term "Sommelier
Would you pay money, though, to see Robert Parker in the ring, taking on Wine
Spectator publisher Marvin Shanken?
(2008 AUSTRALIA) Billboards for a
"critter" wine have caused an uproar Down Under as a former Miss
Universe contestant says she didn't know what sort of "message" her
ads would be sending.
Erin McNaught (or McNaughty, if you prefer)
is depicted on billboards around Australia for the Cockatoo Ridge Wines company.
One of the ads, depicted on the left, shows Ms. McNaught with a critter on her
shoulder and a bottle of critter wine.
"She loves a cockatoo" is the message being sent by the
advertiser. Other messages included "McNaughty but Nice" and
"Who's a cheeky girl, then?" McNaught says the ad agency
e-mailed her the slogans but she did not see them in a timely fashion and the
ads were posted when she did not respond.
The bottle-shocked McNaught signed off on the ad campaign and her attempt
stopping the display of the suggestive poster went for, well, naught.
HOW MANY MILES PER
2008) The eco-friendly Prince Charles has told friends and family that
he's doing his part to reduce damage to the environment by using fuel made, in
part, of English wine.
We wondered if the Prince held some sort of Royal Wine Tasting Competition to
see precisely which English wines tastes like gasoline. He, according to
various reports, prefers the wines of Wiltshire.
It's not been reported if any British wine critics have evaluated the exhaust
emanating from the Prince's "Aston Martin" tail-pipe, but one wag near
Warminster said "You can smell the Prince coming from a mile away."
It's nice to see someone driving a vintage automobile, fueled by vintage petrol.
ZEE FRENCH ARE VERY
PARTICULAR ABOUT WINE
2008) French President Nicolas Sarkozy has
perplexed the British monarchy prior to his visit and state dinner with The
Queen. Sarkozy's bunch demanded to know what wines were to be served with
The Royal Wine Cellar dates back to the 1700s and one wonders if they'll be
bringing one liter carafes of bag-in-box wine for the Queen and her
guests. Probably not.
Not that Sarkozy is much of a wine
expert. In fact, the newly-elected French President is a teetotaler!
DID HUGO JUST VISIT
THE NAPA VALLEY, OR WHAT?
2007) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pointed out that
hundred-dollar-a-barrel oil is cheap...compared to
The snarky South American boss-man behaved much like some winery owners in
defending their pricing. Chavez pointed to the high cost of wine (he did
not mention Cakebread, Far Niente or Opus One, by the way) as being out of
control. In contrast, crude oil from Venezuela and elsewhere is a mere
$100 a barrel.
"Are they going to blame me for the high price of wine?" Chavez asked.
When a winery owner is paying $4 a gallon for 'premium' to fuel their Mercedes,
that gets passed along to the consumer. The Wine Spectator, meanwhile,
rated Chavez's oil a 93 on its 100 point scale.
No word on rumors Chavez was buying Marvin Shanken's wine magazine and really
changing the name of it to The Wine Dictator.
SHE HAS A GOOD VOICE AND
A GOOD PALATE
jazz giant Diana Krall is, apparently, a big fan of good wine. We were
delighted to see she's got good taste or a reasonably good sommelier assisting
her when she's "on tour."
Catering firms are instructed to pick from a rather specific list of
"approved" wines for service in Mrs. Elvis Costello's dressing room.
See what you make of this list...
D'Arenberg's "Galvo Garage,"
though, might drive her go-fers crazy, since it's a Cabernet-based blend and has
Interesting, too, to see them list "Isole e Olena Syrah" as a
"widely available wine." Same for "Any from Carlisle"
and "Any from Cayuse."
"YOUR MONEY OR
YOUR WIFE! I MEAN, WINE."
DC) Police and an area family are still musing over the initial attempt at
armed robbery that ended with a glass of wine and a group hug.
An armed robber breaks into the backyard of a Washington DC residence and holds
a gun to the head of a 14 year old girl. He tells the shocked guests and
family "Give me your money or I'll start shooting!"
The people were horrified and one of the guests spoke up, saying "We were
just finishing dinner. Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"
The would-be robber sat down and had a sip of Chteau Malescot St. Exupery and
said "Damn, that's good wine." (He did not, by the way, offer a
numerical score in judging the wine, nor did he ask how many points The Wine
Spectator awarded this vintage.)
Host and father Michael Rabdau then offered the bad guy the whole glass...or the
entire bottle. What the hell?!
The robber took another sip, had a bit of their Camembert cheese and slid the
gun he'd been brandishing down his sweatpants.
The assailant then admitted "I may have had the wrong house."
That's when he asked if he could "get a hug."
Everyone got up and gave him a group hug. He moseyed on out the back gate,
wine glass in hand.
Police are still looking to apprehend the wine-drinking robber.
(Maybe they ought to hang out in wine bars or pay a visit to DC-area wine
NOT FOR SALE.
Angeles, California) A California couple says they had no intention of
marketing wine bearing a label depicting a likeness of Michael Jackson and
branded as "Jesus Juice." CBS news producer Bruce Rheins
and his significant other, actress Dawn Westlake had filed with the United
States Patent & Trademark Office to trademark their 'brand' of homemade
Merlot, called Jesus Juice.
Rheins spent months covering the Michael Jackson trial in Santa Barbara,
California. Jackson had supposedly made reference to wine as "Jesus
Juice" as a beverage offered to kids hanging out at the Neverland
Rheins claims he had not intended to profit from this satirical label.
Various news reports quote Rheins as saying he did not want others to make money
on this, so he and Westlake applied for a trademark. Still, Westlake had
been offering a clock for sale with the label on it.
Given all the flack that's hit the fan at CBS, Westlake no longer accepts orders
for clock with their wacky little label on it. (Yeah, like they didn't
want to profit from this little joke!)
Mr. Jackson reportedly is cross and not at all thrilled by this little attempt
at humor and has asked his attorneys to crucify the perpetrators.
NEW DEFINITION FOR
"SHERRY BUTT" KILLS TEXAS MAN
Jackson, Texas) A Texas woman has redefined the term "sherry
butt," the typical cask or cooperage in which Sherry wines are
matured. As a result, she's been charged with Negligent Homicide in the
death of her husband.
It seems since Michael Warner was unable to drink alcohol, for some reason Mrs.
Warner administered a
"sherry enema" which may have killed the poor fellow.
It is unclear as to what these people were thinking and Spain's sherry producers
are, no doubt, wondering what would cause someone to think of
"imbibing" their product in such a fashion.
A police detective in Texas pointed out the fellow has a blood alcohol level
which was six times the legal limit for "intoxication" in Texas.
"We're not talking little bottles, here," said Detective Robert
Turner, adding "these had to be at least magnum-sized bottles."
The ancient Greek historian Metrius Plutarch is quoted as saying wine is
"the sweetest of medicines," but he did also say is the "most
useful of all drinks" and emphasizes the "drinking" aspect
We are reminded of Edgar Allan Poe's wonderful story entitled the "Cask of
Amontillado," but in this instance Mr. Warner is not so Fortunato.
His demise makes it more like the "casket" of Amontillado.
Sales of Spanish Sherry have continued to plummet, according to statistics from
the Spanish Sherry bureau. We can imagine the spokesman for that agency
pointing out something along the lines of "Spanish Sherry producers are up
to their asses in Sherry, but we've never heard of anything quite like
Sick story. I know. Don't
remind me.--Thanks...the editor.
WHO NEEDS A WINE GURU
WHEN THE WINERY HAS RATED ITS OWN PRODUCT?
An Australian hotel offers its own private labeled
wine which features its own assessment as to the quality of the wine in the
Such a radical idea could possibly make obsolete the likes of critics such as
James Halliday, Robert Parker or the various eno-scribes at the Wine Spectator.
The Mittagong Hotel in New South Wales has a dining
establishment as well as bottle shop on the premises where you can pick up a
bottle of this tastefully appointed label.
What a concept! Now you don't have to rely upon shelf-talkers proclaiming
the number of points a wine has received.
FRENCH BAN A NICE AD
( PARIS, FRANCE ) A French court has ruled
which photo may, indeed, be used in a print media advertisement for wine.
The banned photo
French laws were recently relaxed to actually allow
vintners to promote their wines and mentioning the characteristics of their fine
vintages. Previously an ad could only display technical information about
the product. The law, called the Evin Law after former Health Minister
Claude Evin, prohibits the use of "models" in promoting wine.
The woman in the photo depicted above is the owner of a Sauternes vineyard
called "Clos Dady" (looks to me as though the property ought to be
named Clos Mommy) and since she is a vintner, her picture is
allowed...providing it's not too sexy!
Catherine Gachet-Dubourg is the 37 year old owner of Clos Dady, a wine produced
at the interestingly-named Chteau Bastard.
(I'm not making up this story. I swear!)
The approved photo.
The Evin law was passed in France back
in 1991 as a measure towards combating alcoholism and the abuse of
alcohol. Banning the one photo probably has saved countless lives in
France and made the world a much safer place.
A QUEER WINE MARKETING
Australia) A New Zealand winery will be releasing a new pink wine aimed at
homosexual wine drinkers. The Kim Crawford winery will be marketing its
new ros, called "Pansy." (Editor's note: I kid you not...I
don't make up this stuff...these stories are actually reported in the mainstream
The winery's web site even goes so far as to describe this as "A fruity
little number. The wine has great fruit intensity, with juicy fruit and watermelon characters. Full bodied the wine finishes well with a hint of tannin."
It is unknown if this wine will be marketed in Great Britain where the BSC
(Broadcasting Standards Commission) deemed the word "Pansy" as
inappropriate for use on the airwaves. It seems BBC's Radio 4 was
broadcasting a news-related quiz program of sorts and the word "pansy"
was used to refer to gays as the quiz covered some sort of gardening question.
The winery's Erica Crawford describes herself as "a straight
mother." Crawford and company are looking to tap into a rather
substantial market: gay men are said to spend $3.1 million monthly on wine.
The winery seals the bottles with a screw cap, no pun intended.
Francisco, California - October 2004) A San Francisco man was recently
offered a discount on wines stolen from his brand new wine "cellar" by
the owner of a neighborhood deli.
The victim was having his Noe Valley home remodeled and he had a modest-sized
wine cellar added to his house. Police think the burglar(s) was probably
intending to steal the tools of the construction crew, which is a rather common
crime. Perhaps seeing the more valuable bottles in this fellow's cellar,
the bandit(s) snagged all but ONE bottle of wine. It seems the bad guy(s)
needed to prop the door open so he/they could make a hasty exit, so they left a
bottle of Ridge Zinfandel as their "doorstop."
This is certainly lovely publicity for Ridge and Winemaker Paul Draper.
Meanwhile, police got wind that some unusually collectible bottles had surfaced
at a neighborhood deli. They asked the victim to stop in this store and
look at the wines. He verified these as some of those stolen from his
home. When he told the shopkeeper nothing especially interested him, the
deli owner ran out the door after him, offering a 20% discount.
It seems the bottles were traded to the thief for cigarettes and food, the
bandit telling the store owner the bottles were from his recently deceased
mother's cellar. Police found fingerprints on some bottles and were able
to arrest the bandit.
No word from Ridge Vineyards as to other uses for their wine bottles.
YOU SAY "LAMBRUSCO" IN LATIN?
Vatican - September 2004) An Italian bunch at the Vatican in Italy has
just published its new Latin dictionary to take the mystery of how the Pope
might talk to Brittney Spears about her hot pants (brevissimae bracae femineae)
or wine critic Robert Parker about his low numerical score for Lambrusco (acre vinum Aemilianum).
Rather than asking for a bottle of acre vinum Aemilianum, please simply
stop by the shop and ask for Barbolini Lambrusco. Our Weimax staffers is
more likely to recognize what you are looking for!
It ought to pair handsomely with your placenta compressa (that's
"pizza" in English, so-to-speak).
Since corkscrews were not part of the Roman culture back in the day, you'll need
to know how to ask for one of those when opening many bottles of wine.
Please request an extrculum.
A store such as ours is known as a vinorum taberna to Latin
speakers. Probably "Weimaxus," come to think of it.
Even the Pope can now ask for a bottle of Chteau Petrus! Well, not
Petrus, precisely, but Merlot is vinum rubrum Burdigalense. We find
it interesting there is no entry for the word "Chardonnay." The
famous Hungarian wine now has a name in Latin: Hungricum vinum.
And they even have a word for a wine snob: vinum homo affectatus.
CARNIVORES TO BE
"ENTERTAINED" BY A HUMUNGOUS WINE BOTTLE (filled with water!)
Helena, Napa Valley, California - July 2004) A Napa Valley winery and a
national chain of steak houses are teaming up to auction off a damned big
"bottle" of Cabernet Sauvignon with the proceeds going to
charity. Having had their bottle certified by the Guinness Book of World
Records as "the world's largest wine bottle," a duplicate replica,
filled with water, will be on tour and displayed in 27 Morton's Steak Houses
around the county.
The bottle is pictured with Beringer winemaker Ed Sbragia. I don't mind
people putting a bottle of wine on a pedestal, as long as there's a corkscrew
and a couple of wine-glasses in the vicinity.
The bottle holds 130 liters of wine, the equivalent of 173 (750ml)
bottles. It's 1.4 feet in diameter and stands 4.5 feet tall. The
empty bottle weighs 150 pounds. When filled with liquid, it checks in at
340 pounds. They're calling the bottle "Maximus." Better
have a "maximus" bank account if you're going to be bidding on the
The "tour" begins August 19th and will conclude in November.
Contact your local Morton's if you want to go have a look at a big bottle filled
with water. I'm amazed, though, that anyone would go out of their way to
have a look at a glass bottle. Those people are, I'm presuming, easily
amused. Morton's? I'd say take the "T" (as in T-bone) out
of the name of the steak place and you've got your answer.
SERVE WINE IN EVERY DINING AREA...ONLY AT A FEW TABLES
(Bellaire Bluffs, Florida - July 2004) If you're
dining at the Farmhouse Restaurant you can have a glass of Cabernet at this
table over here, but at that one over there, it's against the law!
Some restrictive city codes prevent serving beer and wine too close (500 feet)
to other "similar establishments or within 200 feet of a
residence." The city pegs the place within the limitations as it's
near a condo and a close to a food mart selling beer and wine. Naturally, some
city official claims the restaurant is prohibited from serving alcohol due to
these restrictions, but he doesn't actually have any documentation as to the
precise location of the restaurant. But the current owners had measurements
taken recently and they found they're 216 feet from the condo and 524 feet away
from the food mart.
Still, until a city bureaucracy has its say, wine drinking can only take place
in one particular dining area. You could be arrested for bringing your
glass of wine to another table! Welcome to the 21st century.
DETAINED BY AIRPORT CUSTOMS OFFICIALS AFTER A RED WINE BINGE
Angeles, California - April 2004) A British actor was detained by U.S.
Customs officers when he became agitated at having to wait his turn for
inspection. TV actor Neil Morrissey admitted he'd become a bit
"exuberant" while waiting in line.
Morrissey, further, said he DID, indeed have something to declare:
"...too much red wine" on his Virgin Airlines flight from England to
Customs officials decided to detain Mr. Morrissey until he calmed down.
This incident should not be a surprise to those familiar with pop culture as
Morrissey had been lead player in the TV sit-com: Men Behaving Badly.
DRINKS LIKE A FISH ! WAIT! HE IS A FISH !!
(Lake Opole, Poland New Years 2004) Some Polish
divers are facing possible criminal charges for "abusing" a fish,
according to law enforcement authorities. It seems these guys were
photographed pouring "Champagne" (wonder what Polish sparkling wine
tastes like?) into some fish at Lake Opole. They now claim the fish was
half-dead anyway, so this was not really abuse.
We've always heard the expression "he drinks like a fish," so now we
can say we've actually seen a fish "drinking." No word as to how
many "points" the fish gave to the wine. And we don't know if
this internal marinade enhances the flavor of seafood, but we're betting it
THERE ARE A LOT
OF BOOBS IN THE WINE BUSINESS!
County, California, December 2003)
A Sonoma couple is hoping to cash in with the launch of
their new wine brand called "Cleavage Creek."
Barbara & Jeff Connors have started this wine brand, though near as we can
tell, they're bottled in 750ml format, not in "jugs."
A representative of the California Wine Institute is horrified by the idea of
this label, though the promoters of the brand defend it, of course. They
claim to be donating a percentage of the proceeds to breast cancer research.
We have not tasted the wines, so we don't know if they're in for a boom or bust.
The wines are bottled by the Sonoma Wine Company and, no, the winemaker there is
not Beaver Cleavage.
THEY SHOULDA BROUGHT
THEIR OWN AND PAID CORKAGE!
London, October 2003) A British couple dining at a restaurant called
"Petrus" was surprised when the bill arrived. It seems they had ordered
a rather extravagant bottle of wine, something costing 160 British Pounds (about
$268 in US money). The sommelier, so the story goes, suggested
the young vintage of Chteau Margaux they ordered was "too fruity" to
pair handsomely with the Roasted Grouse, so he advised them to have something
with a bit more bottle age.
They followed his advice and had what was reportedly a lovely bottle of a 1966 Margaux. (I've
read conflicting reports...most journals contend the bottle delivered cost 800
Pounds and was Chteau Margaux 1966, but a British columnist named James
Whitaker reports the couple drank a 1966 Chteau Palmer at the bargain price of
795 Pounds.) However, while they were pleasantly surprised by the wine
& food pairing, they were shocked when the bill arrived. It seems the
sommelier had neglected to tell them the bottle he was suggesting cost more than
4 times the price of the one they had chosen in the first place!
Never mind the idea of a corkage fee: this was out and out "screwage!"
Talk about a Vin de PAY !!!
These people certainly had something to grouse about
as their wallet was roasted, big time!!!
THE PERFECT GLASS FOR SPUMANTE ???
Italy September 2003) A producer of Italian sparkling wine is
gaining some publicity for its "contest" to find the perfect (we're
supposing female) breast from which to create a glass from which to drink
spumante (or Champagne). Where does one sign up to be on this judging
panel, we wonder?
The saucer-like "cups" often seen at weddings are, in fact, poor for
sparkling wine service because there is so much surface area of the wine that
the bubbles dissipate rapidly, rendering the wine flat. Legend has it,
though, that those wide glasses are copies of a glass molded from the breast of
Marie Antoinette. Numerous other beauties lay claim to this legend.
A company producing brassieres, Bravissimo, says Marie must have been rather
small, since her "coupe" has a capacity for but 200ml of wine (or
about 6 ounces). They commissioned a larger glass, pointing out that most
women require a "D-cup" in terms of size, instead of the smaller
now you're abreast of the situation.
FUROR OVER ITALIAN WINERY'S "HITLER" WINE
(Germany September 2003) A German government
official Brigitte Zypries has asked Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli to
see about prohibiting the sale of a series of wines from Friuli's Lunardelli
Lunardelli has several lines of wine, the controversy centering on his "Linea
Storica." These feature wine labels depicting Hitler, Mussolini, Che
Guevara, Eva Braun, Heinrich Himmler amongst others. Lunardelli also
offers wines with labels depicting Communists such as Karl Marx and Vladamir
Lenin, he also has one featuring Winston Churchill, Dracula and a line of
German law prohibits the distribution or reproduction of Nazi images, so they're
investigating to see if any of Lunardelli's wines have been shipped to
posting this story, we've received numerous requests asking if we sell these
wines or where these can be purchased. One person wrote saying these would
be good "investments."
We do not sell these and would not sell such labels.
HERE'S A WINE DICTATOR LABEL THEY OUGHT TO HAVE, BUT DO
DICTATOR'S WINE COLLECTION TOSSED BY THE CLEANERS
(Bucharest, Romania--September 2003) The
janitorial staff at the
Palace in Bucharest disposed of a couple of thousand bottles of wine and spirits
once the "private" collection of the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
The cleaning crew decided it needed additional space for its equipment and so
they simply tossed out some two-thousand bottles, figuring these would no longer
be "any good."
It seems a sale for some 600 (or so) bottles had been made to a European
collector for some 45,000 Euros. Only when the palace staff went to pack
up the purchase were they surprised to find no wine, but plenty of cleaning
buckets and janitorial equipment.
Some critics claim many of the wines in Ceausescu's collection probably tasted
like various cleaning products anyway.
FRENCH NOT KIDDING
WHEN THEY SAY "NON MERCI" TO SOUTH AFRICA'S "GOATS DU ROAM"
(South Africa--July 2003) Winemaker
Charles Back brought some peace offerings to the French Embassy in South Africa
after the French INAO (the Appellation Contrlle governing body) asked him to
stop labeled his wines as Goats du Roam and Goat Roti.
Back was joined by about 40 farm workers who carried placards reading "Save
our Goat" and "Don't Buck Our Goat." He presented the
French with a package featuring goat cheeses and bottles of his wines, which
He had one other little gift for them, a bag of goat dung, which they did not
Back is quoted as saying the brand of wine is named after Fairview winery's herd
of goats and that the similarity of wine names "Goats du Roam" and
"Goat Roti" to French wines is "purely coincidental."
I'm certain the French would respond to that assertion saying that's much like
the contents of Mr. Back's bag of goat dung: A bunch of merde.
WILL THE REAL "TWO BUCK CHUCK"
PLEASE STAND UP?
2003) Attorneys for Ceres, California vintner Fred Franzia have sent
poison pen letters to a Sonoma County vintner and a chain of liquor stores
alleging copyright infringement.
The producers of the wine being sold as "Charles Shaw" claim a Sonoma
winemaker/label designer has stepped on their turf with a wine labeled "Two
Buck Chuck," the nicknamed given a $1.99 wine being sold exclusively
through a chain of store which routinely features over-production wines.
The label designer, pleading ignorance, claims he didn't know the nickname of
the wine sold as Charles Shaw is "Two Buck Chuck." He says he
was approached by a chain of liquor stores and asked to come up with a label for
their version of "Two Buck Chuck." He also claims he registered
the name "Two Buck Chuck," along with "Three Buck Chuck" as
well as "Two" and "Three Dollar Dave."
Anybody who actually appreciates a good bottle of wine will probably call this
lackluster juice "Up Chuck That Ain't Worth a Buck."
OREGON, February 2003) Researchers at Oregon State University have
concluded wine may be a good disinfectant or cleaning product. Food
scientist Mark Daeschel and associates Jessica Just and Joy Waite tested tested
the germ-killing properties of wine against common "bugs" such as E.
Coli and Salmonella. The bacteria died within an hour and the researchers
credit a combination of the alcohol and acidity with the effectiveness of wine,
claiming vodka, for example, doesn't have the same germ-killing
Of course, the disinfectant would have to be made with white wine so as to not
stain whatever it is you are attempting to clean.
I'm not sure what the market is for "Wine-Sol," but I know I have
tasted some wines which would have been good candidates as the base for this
SWEDES SPEND A NIGHT IN
A FRENCH JAIL, REFUSING TO PAY THE RESTAURANT TAB
FRANCE, OCTOBER 2002) A group of Swedish tourists learned they should
have been paying more attention to the wine list, especially the numbers
preceded by the "Euro-Dollar" sign!
The group dined at the Cannes restaurant called Harem, celebrating an
anniversary. They discovered they were in over their heads when the bank
wouldn't approve the credit card transaction. What they estimated to be a
$5,800 in Euros was actually $58,000!!!
had offered the group its wine list along with a vintage chart. Selected
for this special evening were two magnums of Dom Perignon Champagne ($1550
each), five bottles of 1993 Chteau Petrus (only $3,900 each), a magnum of 1961
Chteau Margaux at $18,000 and a bottle of 1945 Chteau Cheval Blanc which
The Swedes, claiming ignorance, said all the wines were "served out of a
carafe." Apparently they didn't understand the practice of decanting
"We're not crazy." one of them reportedly said.
The group spent about 20 hours in jail. No comment was recorded as to
their hospitality or the wine list there.
IRANIAN THEATER FINED FOR A SCENE
FEATURING "DEATH BY WINE-DRINKING"
(TEHERAN, IRAN, SEPT. 2002) A
court in Iran has fined director Ali Rafi $190 for his production of a
stage-play where a prince kills his wife by having her drink some wine. It
was not mentioned whether or not the wine was some 50-point swill or 90+ point
"gobs of fruit, sexy, hedonistic" bottling from a winery with a cult
The court ruling says that since Islamic law does not permit its followers to
drink wine, this French-educated fellow must be held accountable for producing a
play which shows someone drinking wine.
Rafi says he is surprised by the court's ruling, saying his play does not
exactly show wine in a positive light. He points out that wine is an
instrument in the death of the princess, not a hedonistic beverage of enjoyment
and pleasure. All of this taking place in the country which is said to
have given the world "Shiraz"!
YOU'VE HEARD OF
NOW THERE'S A "CULT WINERY"
(OREGON HOUSE, CALIFORNIA. AUGUST
Many collectors of California wines seek out those tiny production bottlings
which have garnered high numerical scores. This category of wine has been
dubbed "cult wines."
Now a California winery has given new meaning to this term.
An Associated Press article says ex-members, neighbors and cult
experts claim The Fellowship of Friends, owners of Yuba County's
"Renaissance Winery," is a cult.
Described as following "The Fourth Way" tradition of spiritual
development at it's winery/living quarters compound, Renaissance representatives
are tight-lipped about the group's activities.
We first became aware of the winery many years ago. Not having tasted many
wines worthy of purchase, we did place a call to the winery to inquire about
their "fellowship." Responses to our questions regarding
their practices were evasive.
The AP article, printed in the San Francisco Examiner on August 19, 2002, says
former members of the group have sued the founder of the fellowship. They
claim they were brainwashed and abused sexually. The article says one law suit,
for $5 million, claiming the founder of the group sexually exploited a 17 year
old, was settled out of court.
The article contends the founder is portrayed as "an angel in a man's
body" and he communicates with up to 44 angels, including Benjamin
Maybe Ben ought to tell this fellow to go fly a kite!
FRENCH MAYOR TIRED OF
SMELLY TOURISTS INTERFERING WITH HIS WINE & FOOD!
(LA GRAND MOTTE, FRANCE == July 2002) Mayor Henri
Dunoyer is upset at having the beach-going tourists in his posh, seaside town
coming to the local bistros and stinking to high heaven of suntan lotion or
In a report published on the Ananova website from Great Britain, Dunoyer
reportedly wants the tourists to be given a clean T-shirt in hopes of covering
the fragrance of suntan oils.
Ananova's report included this gem of a sentence: "Mr. Dunoyer claims
Britons are among the worst offenders, despite the fact the French use less soap
than anyone in Europe."
The hoteliers of the town, as you might expect, are not thrilled with this new
legislation. One said that they're effectively branding the tourists with
the gratis T-Shirt which may be interpreted to say "I smell."
In any case, old Henri ought to come join me at some local trade
wine-tastings. Some of the amateurs in attendance have bathed in perfume,
making it impossible to get a sniff of what's in your wine glass!
WANTS TO BAN SALE OF "FORTIFIED" WINES...Would Ban Most California
Chardonnays, Cabernets & Zinfandels!
WASHINGTON == May 2002) Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is asking the
Washington State alcohol control board to enforce a ban of the sale of wines
exceeding 13% alcohol in the downtown "Pioneer Square" area.
This would ban the sale of virtually every major California wine, since only a
few contain less than 13% alcohol by volume.
Apparently Seattle has a problem with alcoholics in its downtown area (what city
doesn't?) and figures the problem can be remedied by stopping the sale of wines
such as Ridge Zinfandels, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon and the like. Of
course, this would also prevent the sale of cheap, fortified wines such as Port
and Sherry made by some small winery in Modesto, California.
Also included in the ban: Beer over 5.7% alcohol and, all beer in containers of
more than 22 ounces as well as "single can" sales of beers in less
than 16 ounce format. No word about canned cocktails or half pints of
vodka. Two of three stores in the Pioneer Square area have voluntarily
complied with the Mayor's wishes. A grocery store called Safeway is not
participating in this ban.
WINE EXPERTS FOOLED
Can't Tell Red Wine From White Wine
(BORDEAUX, FRANCE...January 2002) A French
wine "academy" has awarded its top prize to a researcher whose study
found wine experts can't tell the difference between red wines and white wines!
Frdric Brochet evaluated the terminology used in wine evaluation guides such
as the French "Guide Hachette" and Robert Parker's "The Wine
Advocate," amongst others.
He found certain terminology seemed to be reserved for white wines and other
adjectives were more exclusive to reds.
One of the themes of the study was to see how "cultural information"
affected the descriptions attached to the wines by the tasting participants.
To test and evaluate, Brochet coerced a number of participants (more than 50) to taste and describe
wines. In one phase of the study, for example, he had the panelists
evaluate white wines and describe them. A few days later he offered them
the SAME WINES, but with a neutral coloring (so as not to affect the aromas or
flavors). He found the panelists were more likely to use "red wine
adjectives" when they were able to visually identify a wine as
"red." On the other hand, "white wine adjectives" were
more common when they viewed the glasses as containing "vin blanc."
Common red wine adjectives:
deep, intense, profound, raspberry, cherry, cassis, fruit, spice
Common White Wine Adjectives:
Gold, floral, fresh, pale, dry, apricot, citrus, straw, lively
Monsieur Brochet also set up the tasters by having them evaluate a wine
which was presented as cheap "vin de table" and the other of the same
wine (a Bordeaux Suprieur) which was presented as a prestigious bottling.
Keep in mind: SAME WINE.
Seventy-nine percent described the "prestigious" offering as
"agreeable," while only 21% found the same wine as a "Vin de
Table" to be so.
Seventy-seven percent described the prestigious wine as "good," while
23% found the same wine, presented as a less prestigious offering to be
Sixty-five percent described the supposedly more costly wine as
"balanced," while only 35% found the identical wine, passed off as a
cheaper, everyday wine to be "balanced."
An interesting notation:
"Practices such as no fining or no filtration do not always have
organoleptic repercussions, but it seems that knowledge of these elements
I was at a Napa winery whose wines I have never found to be particularly
stellar. In poking around the cellar, I noticed a filter. The
proprietor nodded when I noticed this saying, "That's the filter Mr. Parker
doesn't know we have."
No wonder the guy's wines get "extra credit!"
Another point made by this study:
"The subject perceives, in reality, what he or she has pre-perceived and
finds it difficult to back away."
It gets down to perspective.
In visiting a German estate, we ran into a group of visitors from
Wisconsin. They were primed to appreciate a "97 point" sweet
wine being poured by the host at a winery.
These guys had read a review of this wine and were anticipating this to be a
Our little group had just come from a small estate and tasted a flock of wines
which were, to our tastes, superior to the "97 point" wonder.
These boys were primed to appreciate this wine, while our trio tasted and,
certainly enjoyed the wine. I mentioned something to the effect of
"if that's a 97 point wine, the ones we tasted an hour ago are 120 point
I recall a Burgundy tasting which featured an unusually dark-colored wine which
had been high rated by Robert Parker. Most of the Burgundy aficionados
ranked this at the bottom, as it had little in common with Pinot Noir. On
the other hand, a couple of Parker devotees ranked the wine in first place,
armed with the confidence of the high rating and, therefore, that the wine is
To further illustrate how pre-conceived impressions can color one's judgment, I
recall participating in a tasting with the authors of Connoisseur's Guide to
California Wines. One of the editors ranked a wine in first place,
claiming it was a textbook example of a Heitz' "Martha's Vineyard"
which he knew would be in the tasting. The rest of the group gave the wine
a lukewarm reception.
Once the wines were unveiled, it seems the tasting organizer had forgotten (or
neglected) to include the Heitz in the tasting!
For those not "in the know," the tasting was totally blind. For
those who know what wines are being tasted, it's easy to look for certain
features and award (or deduct) credit accordingly.
Brochet's study found that, for many, tasting only what's in the glass, is a
CHEEKY BRITISH BABES
RULED TO BE "NOT IN BAD TASTE"
(London...November 2001) The
British Advertising Standards
bureau has rejected a complaint by some politically correct do-gooders.
Halewood International markets a pear wine called "Lambrini" (I
suppose this is similar to Ernest & Julio's famous "perry" wine
An advertising poster depicts "The Lambrini Girls" (and girls just
wanna have fun, so they claim) at a get-together.
One of them says she lost a significant amount of "fat" last
night. One of the other gals replies, "So you dumped him, then?"
The Ad Bureau found "Because it considered that most people would interpret
the advertisement to be a humorous portrayal of girls' conversation instead of a
demeaning or undermining portrayal of men, the Authority concluded that the
advertisement was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence."
Halewood has come under fire from the Italian wine commission, since this
product is marketed with an Italian-sounding name. The Italians feel it
hurts the image of Italian wines to be associated with this product.
"LADEN" WITH WINE STOPPED AT THE SWISS BORDER
(ITALIAN-SWISS BORDER--November 2001) A truck driver
at the Como-Brogeda border crossing was detained for ten hours while the customs
guards huddled over the suspicious load of wine.
The driver's documents had the word "laden" on it and so the guards
wouldn't let the truck pass the border. The driver didn't speak Italian,
the border guards didn't speak German.
They finally cleared up the matter when someone pointed out the word
"laden" is German for "load." The truck was
"laden mit wein" and had nothing to do with Osama.
Can they distinguish between red and white?
A French researcher studying the often colorful prose written by wine tasters,
pulled a fast one on unsuspecting subjects. It seems he was curious about
the various descriptors employed by tasters when attempting to convey to others
what they were sampling. Researcher Gil Morot of the National Institute
for Agronomic Research in Montpellier added coloring to white
wines and, suddenly, the tasters were describing the wines as having aromas of
"red fruits" instead of the "white" or "yellow"
fruits and flowers they had encountered when the sample was
"white." Tasters used descriptors that corresponded to the color
of the wine and the adjectives, apparently, changed with the color of the
wine! Instead of finding "honey," "apricots" or
"straw," tasters found the same samples, when colored red, to have
aromatics of "raspberries," "tar" or "tobacco." Morot concluded that the aromas detected by the tasters
are purely subjective.
To those who find much wine writing "poppycock," well, they may be
FRENCH GOLIATH SUES
(Queensland, AUSTRALIA...August 2001) Attorneys
for the humungous French Champagne firm Moet et Chandon are suing a new and tiny
Australian winery over the use of the family name. Apparently lawyers for
Moet feel the Channon family is infringing upon the Champagne giant's trademark
by wanting to use the name "Channon Estate" on wines produced by this
"mom & pop" winery.
Peggy and Robert Channon submitted documents to register the name of their brand
as "Channon Estate," but representatives of Moet think consumers will
be duped into thinking Channon is Chandon!
Never mind that Moet et Chandon and most of its subsidiaries produce sparkling
wine and the Channon family does not!
Why hasn't Moet et Chandon asked the Burgundy negociant firm of CHANSON to
change the name of its song and dance routine to something less confusing?
What about the Burgundy firm called "Domaine CHANDON de Brialles"?
As for the argument about consumers possibly being "confused":
The various "domaines Chandon" around the planet now have similar
label designs. The Napa Valley facility stopped producing 187ml bottles of
bubbly. They've been re-introduced into our market, but only if you
inspect it closely, do you notice the new bottling is made by Chandon, not in
Napa, but in Argentina!
So...once again, tell me about possible confusion?
Chandon's Australian label on the left and a Spanish bottling on the
WINE POLICE OUT TO
(Jonesboro, Arkansas...September 2001) The
"Wine Police" are staking out various dining establishments in
Craighead County, looking for patrons who are bringing their own bottles of wine
into a restaurant!
Apparently Craighead (I'll bet some of the arrested folks are thinking of
changing the name of the county to a familiar form of Richard) is one of many
"dry" counties in that part of the planet and drinking alcohol in
public any place but a "private club" is illegal.
Police in most counties have not enforced this old law, but some have asked law
enforcement officials to crack down on this "bad behavior."
If arrested, you've not only paid a corkage fee to the restaurant, but also a
$125 "corkage fee" (or "screwage fee") to the local
bureaucrats for violating the law.
TO PROVIDE SECURITY AGAINST WINE COUNTERFEITERS
(Australia...June 2001) The Australian wine giant, BRL
Hardy, is hoping to guard against wine counterfeiters by using a
"security" label which has been printed with
world has fallen prey to wine-scamsters numerous times over the years, most
recently stories of a large quantity of Penfolds "Grange" being found
to have been counterfeited.
BRL Hardy, whose "Eileen Hardy" Shiraz is a much sought-after wine,
will now be bottled with a special security seal incorporating a reflective ink
which can be authenticated by a special scanning device.
Italian fraud squad officials uncovered a cache of counterfeited
"Sassicaia," while British police nabbed a crew selling bogus French
Champagnes. In Asia, scamsters counterfeited a cheap wine: France's
"Mouton Cadet." What were these geniuses thinking about?
And many years ago bottles of "first growth" Bordeaux were sold to New
York merchants; the wine having been made from California-grown Barbera!
In any case, BRL Hardy claims the DNA comes from 100 year old vines in the
McLaren Vale region.
EUROPE WITH GEORGE W. & LAURA
(WARSAW, POLAND...JUNE 2001)
At a luncheon for "First Ladies," America's
Laura Bush returns a glass of wine, saying "If I can't have one for Jenna
and Barbara, too, I don't want this one. By the way, how many points did
DRINKERS ARE SMARTER!
We like to think our customers are, for the most part, a bit sharper than those
non-wine drinkers who pass by our portals every day.
It seems some researchers in Japan may have found that, indeed, wine drinkers
ARE sharper than those who don't drink any form of alcohol.
Researchers at the National Institute for Longevity Sciences in Aichi Prefecture
surveyed some 2000 subjects and found men between the ages of 40 and 79 scored
about 3 points higher on IQ tests than male teetotalers. Women drinkers
managed to outscore their non-drinking counterparts by some 2.5 points.
The study did not pinpoint wine over other alcohols such as whisky, beer or sake
as being more beneficial. And they point out that no cause and effect
connection can be established, either.
So, while wine drinking may not make you smarter, those who drink wine scored
higher than the poor souls who abstain!
Someone arrived the other day with a bottle of "Smart Water." I
inquired as to whether or not they felt more intelligent drinking something
called "Smart Water" (with 'electrolytes'!). As they had paid
more than two dollars for this small bottle, I concluded they were not so smart
FINDS "FRASCATI" IS A TYPE OF PASTA
(LONDON, ENGLAND) JUNE 2001 Italians
are amused by the results of a survey of British men that shows 20% of these
blokes think "Frascati," a white wine produced near Rome, is some sort
of pasta. The study, commission by the Safeway grocery store chain, found
British men spend, on average, no more than an hour in the kitchen each
week. Most of this is merely to boil water for tea or pasta.
We are certain if this survey had been conducted here in the U.S., probably an
even higher number of respondents would suggest "Frascati" was some
sort of pasta, Italian automobile or movie star.
DOON ZIN BANNED IN OHIO
MAY 2001 Bonny Doon Vineyards has, according to the State of Ohio, committed
a cardinal sin by offering wine with labels which depict "children or
Bonny Doon's "Cardinal Zin," a California Zinfandel wine, features a
label by the notorious artist, Ralph Steadman.
We have suggested to the proprietor of Bonny Doon, Randall Grahm, that he
consider less repulsive labels by artists whose work encourages customers to try
the wines, rather than Steadman's which, in our view, repulses more normal human
Grahm explains that Mr. Steadman's creations come at a high price and virtually
no input from the peanut gallery or his patrons is appreciated.
The State of Ohio is "protecting" its citizenry by not permitting its
distributors from importing such a wine.
No word, at this time, from the Buckeye State's Ministry of Silly Walks
regarding this standoff.
Here's a copy of label artist Ralph Steadman's "letter to the
"Thank you for contacting me regarding CARDINAL ZIN, one of the
finest wines known to man. Why, I would even use it for Holy Communion.
It is a sacramental wine as much as any other. If the blood of Christ is
half as good as it is then I
am a believer. It is a wine blessed by the Gods and created by a master
wine maker, Randall GRAHM, who himself must have been blessed by the
good Lord with the gift of extracting all the rich complexities from a
grape that the good Lord put into them. He is an artist, and a humorist
too I guess.
Just what is it that liquor regulators are there to regulate? Do they
not know that the Catholic Church has claws? That they are also guilty
of gross hypocrisy and blasphemous misconduct in the name of all that is
sacred? They drip with
obscene opulence while two thirds of their followers worldwide live in
poverty, and worse, must provide the world with as many children as they
can manage to swell the ranks of Catholics everywhere. The religious far
right are at the
bottom of this phony self-righteousness and we haven't seen the last of
it yet. Spoilsports never give up in their quest to deaden the human
spirit. To quote Neitszche: I can only believe in a God who can dance.
Well, cheers to that!
If God is watching he is also laughing at those who peddle their piety
like a blunt weapon. He may also feel sad that his creation of a
thinking man turns out to be such a miserable experiment. He probably
hoped that the miracle of his work
contained within it the seeds of aspiration of the kind that Darwin had,
and many others who spent their lives challenging the whole Universe,
and with humility too.
Anyway, do ring me on if you would like to talk about this deeply
I have just recalled the two Neitzsche sayings which are part and parcel
of all we are trying to say in our various ways.
1. We possess ART lest we perish from the TRUTH.
2. It is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world
are permanently justified.
Shoulda' remembered those. They lie at the heart of all I hold sacred.
OK. Just thought I would give you all the ammunition you may require.
Okay, so Ralph doesn't spell Nietzsche
correctly. Nietzsche didn't spell Ralph's name properly, either, we're
FIRE EXTINGUISHING CHAMPAGNE?
(DECANTER.COM Website, December 6, 2000) This sounds like one of
those Great American "Urban Legends" to me. I couldn't find this story
confirmed or reported in any other "news" media outlet.
Decanter reported, in what seems to be a public-relations piece, that some British couple
was "saved" by the Champagne in their "drinks refrigerator."
The story asserts:
"As the fridge burned, the corks burst and the
frothing Champagne doused the flames. The couple were woken by the sound of popping corks
and came down to find their fridge destroyed - but the danger over....And experts agree it
was the Bolly that saved them. The quality of the wine increased its fire-retardant
properties - the better the Champagne is, the more carbon dioxide-filled bubbles it
carries. Carbon dioxide naturally starves fire of oxygen. Like all Champagne (as opposed
to many cheaper sparkling wines), Bollinger is fermented twice in the bottle. As it lies
on its side, yeast reacts with sugar and creates alcohol and carbon dioxide. The gas is
unable to escape and dissolves into the wine. According to Champagne expert Tom Stevenson,
a bottle contains an average of 250 million bubbles."
I remain skeptical.
NAME THAT WINE !
(Lodi, California August, 2000)
A California winery has withdrawn its California State Fair-award-winning
"Roussanne" from the market since the wine may not be made of Roussanne grapes
Tim Spencer, proprietor of Lodi's St. Amant Vineyard and Winery, planted what he thought
was Roussanne back in 1995. He received a letter in the summer of 2000 from Sonoma
Grapevines of Santa Rosa saying the vine cuttings they sold to St. Amant may have been
The story involves Caymus and Bonny Doon wineries, too. Caymus purchased more than
6,000 vines from Sonoma Grapevines and propagated cuttings from their initial planting.
A viticulturist touring the vineyard planted by Caymus' proprietor Chuck Wagner (at
their Mer Soleil vineyard in California's Central Coast) pointed out these
"Roussanne" vines appeared to be more similar in appearance to Viognier.
Caymus' suit against Sonoma Grapevines alleges genetic testing proves these vines are
Bonny Doon's involvement stems from its providing the original budwood to Sonoma
Grapevines. Either they provided the wrong budwood or the cuttings were mislabeled.
There's litigation pending on that score, too!
So....if you have a suggestion for Mr. Spencer as to what to name his
Viognier/Roussanne/Mystery White, please give him a call at (209) 367-0646.
YOU CAN BUY WINE IN LOS ANGELES,
BUT YOU CAN'T MAKE IT THERE!
(Los Angeles, California Aug. 1, 2000) Though it was the
"center" of winemaking in California in the 1700, Los Angeles County has had a
prohibition on wine production since the 1920s!
The owner of the Malibu Hills Vineyard, whose wine is being made at Sanford's facility in
Santa Barbara County, asked a county supervisor about building a winery.
It turns out Los Angeles has never changed its law prohibiting wine production! A plan is
in the works which would allow "boutique wineries," those with a production of
less than 5,000 gallons annually, to operate within the county limits.
(GREAT BRITAIN) Discovering
Archaeology reports that some British Archaeologists dug up a couple of old bottles of
Madeira in a place call (appropriately for winetasters) Spitalfields. The bottles
are said to be from the 17th century and were stashed in the cellar of the Master Gunner
of England who lived at this location. Scientists, confirming the beverage was safe,
extracted a "wee bit" from the bottles and professional tasters pronounced the
wine as "quite drinkable."
No 100-Point scoring system was used and there's no truth to the rumor they shot the wag
who tasted this stuff and said ,"Needs another 6 months of bottle aging."
VINTAGE 2000 "Looks
(WASHINGTON STATE) The Public
Relations Machinery at Stimson Lane (Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest and Snoqualmie
wineries) are trumpeting the virtues of the 2000 Vintage. In April
A press release was issued on April 14th saying "...early signs are good."
Yeah....the 2010 harvest shows much promise at this time, too. Wait until you
see the 2012 Ports! Whoa!!
"SIZE MATTERS!" SAY ALTO ADIGE WINEMAKERS
(ALTO ADIGE, ITALY) They're up in arms
over the size of their wine bottles and the right to their precious "DOC" (denominazione
di origine controllata) designations.
Much of the wine sold in the German-speaking Alto Adige (Sdtiroler, if you prefer) is
sold in liter bottles and closed with a "crown cap," much like a beer bottle.
Some producers feel these wines, often costing very little, hurt the image of the wines
produced in the area. Many of the wineries in this region are grower's
cooperatives, producing modest, "everyday" wines. Some coop wineries make
very good quality wines, by the way.
So...there's a proposal from some corners to only allow wines sold in 750ml bottles and
stoppered with a cork to be sold as "DOC" wines (such as Santa Maddalena,
Lagrein, Pinot Nero, Chardonnay, etc.).
So then what? The same wine put into a magnum bottle is no longer entitled to
the same "DOC" designation? What about half-bottles?
(Bordeaux) The owners of Chateau
Haut-Brion, who also own La Mission-Haut-Brion, La Tour-Haut-Brion, Laville-Haut-Brion and
Bahans-Haut-Brion tried to sue a grower who was labeling his wine as "Chateau Moulin
de Brion," the name of the particular piece of dirt he owns in the Medoc.
The Haut-Brion owners, Societe Clarence Dillon, won their suit. But the grower
counter-sued and his sharp lawyer pointed out a law prohibiting the use of the word
"Haut" as part of a brand name unless a zone actually exists with that
designation (such as Haut Medoc).
There are 400 chateaux which have the word "haut" as part of their name.
The court ruled in favor of the little grower who can now retain the label "Chateau
Moulin de Brion."
The Dillon gang is marshalling its resources and will be taking the case to France's
Supreme Court of Appeal.
COUNTERFEIT CHAMPAGNES FOUND IN
(Great Britain) Decanter Magazine
reports of seizures by government authorities of "counterfeit" Mot et Chandon
magnums. Probably the people at Mot were also having a seizure, upon reports of
cheap French sparkling wine being re-labeled as Mot et Chandon Brut.
Bollinger was also being sold by con artists. The cops found cases of faked
Bollinger Special Cuve. It turns out the crooks used "perry wine" (wine
made from pears--in this country Gallo made a fortune on "perry" wine with a
product called "Ripple"). The Bollinger-want-to-be stuff was being sold at
less than half its normal price. That might have been a slight clue to customers.
Under Construction---of course!