Friday, May 28, 2010

Mission Not Impossible?

Samantha Dugan:

Your mission, should you chose to accept it is to hunt down the people that once loved, have never really tried or mistakenly tried the wrong White Burgundy. Find them, seek them out, look under every wine bar and tasting room from here to Temecula if you must but finding them has never been more important than it is now. We feel that we should warn you that these people while in serious need of de-brainwashing may resist a bit.

A region’s wines once beloved and fiercely coveted, a region responsible for inspiring wine makers the world over is being held captive by the nefarious ABC, (Anything But Chardonnay) cult, a group determined to cut off the supply of Chardonnay coming from anywhere in the world. They have had their eye on Burgundy for decades; it would be the jewel in their hate campaign crown. They are using the public’s growing distaste for ultra ripe, lavishly oaked, buttery tasting Chardonnays to destroy a very noble grape and they must be stopped. We have engaged the Anti Cougar Juice Alliance but they are still in their infancy, too green to present any real threat to the “I hate Chardonnay” masses….we need you.

This is not a mission to be taken lightly. You will need all that your years of training have taught you; your palate, your memory and we are not above asking you to check out those new Victoria Secret bras that can increase your…assets by two sizes. We are fighting varietal terrorism here Ms. Dugan, we must all be willing to do what it takes to rescue these legendary and extraordinary wines from becoming extinct. We must protect them, honor them and solidify their place for the next generation of wine lover….so what’s a little cleavage and over-the-shoulder-boulder- holder pain when you are preserving history right?

Find them Ms. Dugan. Tie them down and spill your accumulated years of desire and passion for White Burgundy all over them, again check out the new bras and you can file it under weapons in your expense report. Open bottles, pour for them, purr for them but goddamn it inspire them to want more. You’ve tasted White Burgundy, you know how sensual, texturally dizzying and profoundly important those wines are. Do not, I repeat do not let them slip away. Those stressed vines, neutral barrels and limestone rich soils have volumes yet to tell. Find them Ms. Dugan and your reward will be legions of people feeling history, nobility and purity spilling across their palates’, a growing village of voices chanting, championing, and campaigning for more Meursault, Chablis, Pouilly-Fuisse. Your reward will be felt and tasted on your own palate for years to come. Do not let Chardonnay slip beneath the primordial goo, toss them a line, give them mouth to mouth and slip a bottle into every cart, (this is where that bra thing might help inspire) teach, teach them that Chardonnay is but a vessel, a surname not a style and there is a whole other language yet to explore. Salty, savory, doughy, rich, nutty, haunting…these are the wines that we know and that we are now requesting your help to defend. Help us and the payoff will be felt the wine loving and lusting world over.

This message will self destruct in….

Oh calm down, we will not be blowing your shit up, but this is a real problem and one that we must address. Find them Sam, teach them, re-learn them....inspire them and they will be back for more.

Hugs and Kisses
The Wine Country


webb said...

ok, Sam, I do want to learn about white burgundies. I have had some over the years that I liked, but what do I look for? At the risk of invoking your wrath, I have to admit that I really don't like "regular" Chardonnays. I do like the so-called "un-oaked" ones a lot. Is there hope for me?

Thomas said...

Wouldn't have the problem if we marketed by regions and styles instead of grape names--oh, right: that causes confusion.

Michael Hughes said...

Awesome. I wish that more beautiful white burgundies were available here in Memphis because the ones I've had were stunning. The Chablis especially. What a shame that people would lump the California "style" with the haunting whites of Burgundy. I get this all the time when I try to even sell an unoaked chard. "Chardonnay??!! Oh no no, I don't like chard."

My response is always "Well thats fine, but why? Why don't you like it?" 9 times out of 10 their eyes just glaze over & they dismiss the question. But that 10th time is great if the customer feels like being open minded & engaging.

Alfonso Cevola said...

have you been raiding Hosemasters cache of naughty photos, again?

Samantha Dugan said...

Gotta tell ya, I am not a fan of domestic or new world Chardonnay myself so no wrath will I bestow upon you. Start by looking for small producer Chablis, stay away from the big houses. Azo and Savary are great ways to start, let me know if I can help you find them.

When I start our intro to French wine classes I pour Chablis and ask people what they think it is. Aside from the regular that just come to hang no one knows. I then ask them, "If you asked me to pour you a glass of Chardonnay is this what you would expect to get?" and they all say no. Forgetting varieties and focusing on regions when dealing with France and most of the old world would make things so much easier!

I get the same thing baby and it can be hard to shake people from the strangle hold of varietal labeling. We must just keep trying, there are so many glorious wines for people to discover. Fuck if all there were was Rombauer Chardonnay I would join the ABC cult. (sorry Charlie)

Yeah I slipped in when he was dealing with 1,000 comments on roasted poodles. Man is smart as hell but easily distracted.

Thomas said...


I'm talking also about New World.

In my always spot on, perfect view of the world, I see wine labels regulated in the reverse of what the TTB does today.

I'd place the regional or AVA name first and prominent, followed by the producer's name and then the grape variety as an optional choice for the producer.

That, to me, is the important linear direction. But of course, to do it requires that the US develop a real AVA system based on grape growing and production rather than marketing.

Oh, please don't get me started on this...

Charlie Olken said...

So, let me see if I have this right?

Two posts in a row in which you have stuck it to me.

First with the Lakers disgusting escape last night--air ball turns goat into hero. And any team that needs Ron Artest to save itself has a serious problem. In the meantime, my Celtics are self-destructing.

And then that poke in my eye with a sharp stick, that unmissable jab at my Chardonnay. Not every CA Chard is overoaked and overripe. Not every White Burg is made in neutral barrels. What would Le Montrachet be without its 15% alcohol and new oak--in the hands of virtually everyone who makes it?

And, you, my desirable one, lump all CA Chards together and then encourage this M. Hughes person to do likewise. Sorry, but both of you should know better.

So, Sam, adorable, sexy Sam, go buy a bottle of Freestone 2007 Chardonnay or Dutton Goldfield or Marimar.

And this continuing reference to a few thousand cases of sweetened Chardonnay from Rombauer. Stop it. It is not representative of CA Chard anymore than is Two Buck Chuck.

Love means not having to say you're sorry, so I won't say sorry for this rant, but I do wish that these kinds of generalizations were somehow not thrown around like loose change.

Other than that, I loved the fun approach, and I do join you in chasing the ABCers. I just don't want to have to define Chardonnay as grower Chablis.

The secret word for this post is "ducke" and I will be ducking the missiles that will be aimed in response. Not to worry. My computer has an anti-missile defense system.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

For my money, there is no greater, more satisfying, more thrilling, more illuminating, more brilliant, more inspiring white wine in the universe than Grand Cru, and even Premier Cru, Chablis. If I have one regret in my wine-drinking career, it's that I didn't drink enough Chablis. Chablis is unique, and the world would simply be a far bleaker place if it did not exist.

As for the rest of Burgundy, well, I too admire the wines and think that they are remarkable, but there are plenty of California producers whose wines rival them in every way. Help me out, here, Puff Daddy, but I'm thinking of Mount Eden, Ramey, Chasseur, Aubert, DuMol... They all compete with Burgundy. But not, to my palate, with Grand Cru Chablis from the great producers.

But, as always, you are exactly right about the ABC crowd. Let's get rid of 'em. Can I be one of your MI team? I want to be either the black guy or the bodybuilder guy. And I want to pull the rubber mask off my face at the end of the mission. Cool.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Yup. You just beat me to the post. I'm with you on this one.

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Hey, I forgot.

I love you!

Your HoseMaster

Charlie Olken said...

Yes, Tom, do not get started lest you find yourself having to answer the next question. What varieties would Finger Lakes or Russian River Valley or Anderson Valley be limited to?

Because as long as those places can make all kinds of varieties, having labels that simply reference place is a complete disservice to the consumer who will be left to guess what is in the bottle otherwise.

And, by the way, just because some old-fashioned countries do things the way you suggest does not mean that modern countries should.

John M. Kelly said...

Pretty much anywhere outside of Burgundy my response is "oh isn't that cute! they can make a decent wine out of Chardonnay. how charming." IMO true terroir only exists in Burgundy.

Sam I've mentioned before my love for certain Chablis - pretty much the only white I drink these days - but if I won the lottery there's a few Chevalier-Montrachets and Cortons that would be in the mix.

But really, I have had more enjoyment from little wines out of Auxerrois, St. Aubin and Auxey-Duresses - some not even made from Chardonnay - than I have from the vast majority of New World Chard.

Thomas I am in complete agreement with you re: the need for a true AVA system here in the US. And as completely certain that it is not likely to happen for many generations - if ever.

Charlie Olken said...


There is no such thing as the "true terroir" for anything. There may be a kind of gout de terroir that you like, but it is simply the terroir that you like.

I think you really know this, philosopher that you are.

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John M. Kelly said...

Charlie - thanks for pulling my leg a little. I believe the term terroir is completely self-referential and synonymous with the history, appellations and culture in Burgundy. Nowehere else do these conditions obtain.

But if you want to use terroir to refer to "flavors one likes" hey, language usage is evolving and I'm an old fart soon to be mouldering.

Back in the day, "gout du terroir" was considered a flaw, most likely arising from spoilage by Pediococcus damnosus.

Charlie Olken said...

Tom, your mission, should you accept it, is to limit your list of varieties even more than you have. Seven different varieties, any of which can be made in any style, is a few too many and thus many too confusing.

The name-based appellations in this world, the southern Rhone also included, are typically based on just one grape or one more or less defined style.

Given the proof that a place like the Russian River Valley can support Sauvignon Blanc next to Zinfandel next to Pinot Noir next to Chardonnay next to Pinot Gris, etc, all in small spaces in the RRV, not just at the extremes of an AVA that you and I probably agree is too broad and marketing driven, suggests to me that limiting varieties to place and thus preventing others is the wrong way to go.

Not sure that Mission Impossible is the place to solve this problem.

Marcia Macomber said...

Loved it, Sam!

And I'll just say the Rom Chardonnay is so not my thing. Other producers' Chard? Many are lovely, many are also quite boring.

And what's the next mission for Agent Dugan?

Thomas said...

I removed my most recent post because, really, I don't want to discuss the issue, and I should not have made that comment.

Samantha Dugan said...

Charlie My Sweet Loving One,
It was not a sharp stick in the eye, it was merely a nibble on your hind quarters. I was not bashing California as much as reminding people that there is another style from which to choose. Now the Lakers post, that was just for you, but you know how much I love you.

I will stop using Rombauer just for you Sweet Daddy but sadly there are plenty of others for me to choose from. Not sweet per se but for too much stuffin' for my liking and wines I simply cannot drink; Cakebread, Trefethen, Solitude, Shafer, Patz & Hall just to name a few. I am wild about you but the wines you adore are just not my cup of tea and I can tell you as someone that works retail...I'm not the only one.

Ron My Beloved,
Chablis is simply one of the sexiest wines on the planet. Not for everyone, just like Romb....whoops, I mean Melville is not for everyone, but damn Chablis just strings my fiddle. Of course you can join me on my crusade but leave the rubber where it belongs, in the bedroom. I love you too sweetness.

See you gots it too! No where else in the world does Chardonnay taste like that and it shouldn't...that is what I so dig about what I do, something for everyone.

I was wondering what kinda can you were opening there....

Welcome back lady! Not sure what the next mission shall be, gotta get my new bras and take this one on first. Wish me luck!

Thomas said...

My dear, Sam, you opened the can. We just respond to it. The reason people have this ABC notion is because they are thinking of wine as varietals, and wine is much more than that.

A few weeks ago I told myself to stay away from such conversations online, but I almost succumbed again. Such conversations are best done in person, with wine and cheese to lubricate the participants.

Michael Hughes said...


Sam wasn't encouraging me, but I would let her anytime.

As for "lumping" as you say...yes it isn't necessarily appropriate to make a blanket generalization about CA chard or any wines that come from CA for that matter. I would be disappointed if someone had that same prejudice against my beloved Washington State or Oregon. However, telling me I should "know better" when I'm expressing my personal viewpoint is rather dismissive don't you think?

Marcia Macomber said...


Following up on your mission and the requisite 'tools of the trade,' in the 'on beyond' Victoria's Secret category, check out these accessories: Bet you could find a nice way to stash some secret Chablis with these.

Full disclosure: Ok, she's a friend, kinda client-y. Freaked me out a bit when she first pulled a ringing cell phone out of one of 'em in a meeting. But I'm not pushing it. Just thought it was funny/cute and fit with your comment....

TWG said...

Hmm, these comments aren't what I expected, too predicable. The interest in Chablis is interesting and telling. Hard to believe Chardonnay has become so divisive.

All I have to say to Charlie (as a Sixers fan) is: "Beat Orlando" (or else).

word verif: parfure

Charlie Olken said...

OK, Sam and (TWG), the Celtics did the business tonight. Now it is the Lakers' turn.

Note to Mr. Hughes. Dismissive? Did not mean to be dismissive. I meant to object to lumping CA Chards in an all-inclusive group and that the group is simply to be dismissed.

CA Chards range in style from firm, tight, lower alc wines like Freestone, Marimar, Pfendler, Bjornstad and lots of others to overcropped, useless wines grown in the wrong places (Here is where Tom P has got it right) to full-on fruity wines like Pahlmeyer and Ramey and Hobbs to to the rare sweet wine like Rombauer.

But, clearly, they are not all heavy, overoaked, high in alcohol, etc. Sure, they are also not Chablis, but the difference between the hyphenated Montrachets and the Freestone group mentioned above is not very great.

Samantha Dugan said...

Wine is about so much more than that. If I do or day anything with this blog I hope it is to remind people of that.

Well sweet thing, you and I are going to be encouraging each other into blistering hangovers here in a month or two. Cannot wait baby and I am pretty sure I know what we will NOT be drinking....

That is awesome and I might have to get me one just for funny's sake!

What were you expecting to find? I will say that I was going to bicker with Charlie more but...well, he is just so damned adorable that I couldn't bring myself to do it. I will say that I was not at all surprised to see that outpouring of lust for Chablis though....stuff is sexy as hell.

Charlie My Love,
Your Celtics looked rather convincing last night, least that's what I faintly remember before my 3rd, (and I have a 2 rule) martini at Tracy's, (my most beloved sports bar and eating hole) last night. Was meeting with an ex AND my beloved Amy and her hubby are in town....swimming, my eyes are still swimming. Hope I can pull it together enough to pour some Chardonnay, some lightly oak seasoned Chardonnay from Chablis and Macon, today. I so wish you were coming to taste with me....then I could nibble your hind quarters in person! Send me my Lakers lovin dammit!

Rajon, KG, Ray and Paul said...

My Dear Samantha--

As of 8 PM, PST, last night, I have pulled out the "Beat LA" T-Shirt. The one with the big green clover leaf smack in the middle, and I am going to wear it without taking it off until the end of the Finals.

I just have to time my showers to days when the sun is bright so I can air dry. I have doing it in the clothes dryer and it messes up my hair, and I have tried with a hair dryer and it messes up my mind with all that hot air.

If I want that much hot air, I know a wine blog or three I can visit. In fact, all I need do is look at the WBA nominees to find plenty of candidates.

As for Laker lovin, well, here is the best I can do. "OK, you silly buggers. Beat Phoenix so I can have the pleasure of seeing the Celtics beat you. Again."

Does that work? :-}

Samantha Dugan said...

Kobe, Derrick, Pau, Ron (Artest, not Our Ron) Lamar,

Not close to good enough. But I still love you.

Beat LA said...


The Celtics have just defeated the teams with the two best season records in the league. Not sure how they did it. Doc Rivers argues that they were injured all season.

Maybe. So, I am expecting the Lakers (I am old enough to remember the Minneapolis Lakers, but, aside from the dirty pond in MacArthur Park, I cannot think of an LA lake) to take the PHX series and then to beat my boys who have to come back to earth at some point.

But, if you think that any Celtics fan can offer real Lakers' Lovin, you are smoking the wrong stuff. It is not in our DNA.

But,we are a forgiving bunch at heart, and we forgive you being a Laker Lover.


Samantha Dugan said...

Breaking My Heart Daddy,
I am giving you my biggest, saddest, green-eyed boo-boo face and in my sweetest tone saying, "Not even for me?"....sniff

Sara Louise said...

I'm back in France tomorrow, will look for a bottle, and give it a go.

Sip with Me! said...

OK, I'm a bit late coming to the table. I was out of town and disconnected for a few days. I sure missed my daily intake of SSD, but I'm back with my 1.5 cents. Chardonnay - it's really just like any varietal. A multitude of expressions. There are those liquid artists that create brilliance in their medium and then there are those who don't. No broad generalizations can be made from this. I love white Burgandies, I love unoaked Chards and I love a little neutral and even some new oak in them. Does that make me polyamorous or unable to commit? No, I just appreciate differences in style. A Chardonnay for every mood!