Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Which One?

“I just want to get in and taste you on the wine, I know timing is everything with you and Rose.” I agreed to the tasting appointment being requested by the presumptuous jackwad on the phone but immediately felt the pang of regret after I did. Now I had to sit with the idiot. Dammit. There are very few sales reps that I dislike, most are cool enough, do their jobs and don’t bug me in the least. There are a couple that get on my nerves, for a myriad of reasons, everything from them not knowing anything about the wines they sell to just having off chemistry, but this guy, this guy I loathe for his misguided sense of familiarity…man do I hate that shit. 

“I know how much you like Montel Williams” my moron of a brother one of the last times we spoke. Montel Williams?! I hadn’t watched Montel Williams in like two decades, and I actually didn’t like him much back then but here was my know it all brother acting like he knew everything, or anything actually, about me with some stupid and very beef-witted comment. Montel Williams, shut the hell up. Much like the above mentioned sales rep, my brother doesn’t know a thing about me and was resting upon some foggy memory of his drug addicted or drunk off his ass self being subjected to watching Montel Williams while he was tweaking out on the computer or passed out on the couch. I guess in his defense, (not that he deserves it) his life hadn’t changed much in, oh I don’t know, the past twenty years, but mine sure the shit had so how’s about not pretending you know anything about who I am. Sort of like when I walk into a new restaurant and the server tells me about a dish and adds, “I think you’ll like it”…peeve, big peeve. You think I’ll like it huh? Well seeing as you know dick about me your opinion on that matter, what you think I’ll like, well it means just that, dick. Tell me it’s good, tell me you like it, but tell me, a stranger to you, what you think I’ll like it and now you one gone and pissed me off. I would never do that to a new customer, sure I might add, “I hope you’ll like it” but never with a new person would I act as if I have some sort of comprehension as to what they are about…

“Just arrived yesterday and I’m getting things ready for your visit. There is a coffeepot here, as well as a bean grinder, but I will have some freshly ground coffee waiting in the fridge, as well as some halfway decent wines here to get you all started. I’m going to leave the good knives, the ones we normally lock up, out in the dining area for you to use and will have more tips and insights as they come to me over the next week or two.” Just reading the words in the email brought tears to my eyes but in that very best of ways. Here was a letter from someone I adore, admire more than most and who helped me figure out who I wanted to be in this here wine world and here he is, writing me with tips and information, (the email held lots, lots more tips on markets, where to eat, the best wine lists in town…) for my upcoming stay in his home, in Spain. His knowing me and what I might need spilling out in his sweetly excited for me letter. He knows me, what I like, will likely need to know, what I might be interested in doing an seeing while there and he cares enough about me to make it a priority to help me. Unlike those servers or that sales rep that know nothing at all about me, or my stoopid addled minded brother who only knows a me from twenty years ago, this man knows and understands this me and he not only gets me, he seems to like me and junk. Foolish but I’m grateful as all get out.

“We’re starting with the 2011 L’Avenir Chenin Blanc, ($14.99) from South Africa where they often call the variety Steen.” Me starting some folks out on the first wine in a flight of six all Chenin Blanc but from different places and with starkly varying styles. The L’Avenir brisk, tangy, raging with acidity and mouth-watering refreshment, then on to the 2011 Domaine Brazillier Vendamois, ($11.99) a wine from just outside Saumur-Champigny that is all mushroom, unripe pears and lemon rind. A wine for meaty white fish or roasted chicken and not suited to everyone but showed extremely well to those of us that crave intrigue. From there we sailed into the 2011 Husch, ($8.99) from Mendocino Valley, a slightly sweeter style Chenin with super soft acidity and a friendly, creamy mouth feel, the crowd staying with me and very vocal about their opinions as well as their impressions on just how different the wines were. “Now you we’re tasting Chenin from its most famous appellation, where they’ve been growing it for ages and can do with it what it seems no one else can…good or bad” as we were seguing into the other Loire Chenin Blancs, the Montlouis and Vouvray. 

The 2011 Careme Vouvray Sec, ($20.99) was redolent with eastern cooking spices and freshly cut pears, mouth coating and powerful but with a seriously snappy finish. The 2009 Francois Chidaine Les Choisilles Montlouis, ($23.99) bone dry but oh so sumptuous. Honey, cooked pears, cinnamon and some balancing minerality but opulence was evident and as we sold out that afternoon, the crowd was digging it. We finished with the 2010 Huet Demi-Sec, ($37.99) a sweeter wine for sure but the mouth cleaning acidity made the wine appear less sweet than the Husch from California, plus it had like three times the body and texture but was also nearly three times the price. So as I poured and discussed the final wine with each person I asked them, “So now that you’ve tasted them all, which one tastes like Chenin Blanc?”….crickets. Slack jaw and crickets. As each attendee went on and on about how astoundingly diverse the wines were, how profoundly expressive and unlike one another, maybe with the exception of the last three Loire wines which bore broader bodies and deeper complexity, it was as if they were trying to praise me which while sweet, wasn’t the point. I didn’t mention to most people in the beginning of the event but in picking the wines and the order in which I poured them, I had a twofold agenda. One was to show people just how undervalued and underappreciated Chenin Blanc is, the second was to point out how useless varietal labeling is when you are talking the world stage of wine, “So which one tastes like Chenin Blanc?” making a roomful of light bulbs go off.

Much like people grapes are influenced by the things around them, changed by weather, the hand of the winemaker, the soil and experience. There isn’t one me that each person that has ever met me knows and understands and there isn’t one expression or flavor of Chenin Blanc. Each hand that touches me, each shared laugh, each patch of soil that my thick clumsy feet walk across, they change and influence the person I am and the same can sort of be said about grapevines, the place and the people that make the wines far more important than the kind of grape it is….variety might give you an idea but it doesn’t begin to tell the whole story and in many cases, assuming you know what it is going to taste like because you think you know, well it can leave you looking like as asshole.


Romes said...

OK, I won't assume that I know what any of the champagnes or Sauvignon blanc are going to taste like this weekend, I'll just enjoy them each for themselves!

Anonymous said...

So much for laying low. Great post.

Samantha Dugan said...

Cannot wait to see you! So glad you're coming, need a nuzzle from my chicka buddy, and a night/day of naughty. See you Friday and I'm even having Call-o wash pillow cases and junk for your couch bed!

I'm a glutton. That and I heard someone making fun of a blogger that didn't get nominated, and was whining about it over on Facebook so I assumed it was over. Now I just have to continue ignoring the whole "Vote for me for class president" nonsense. Thanks for reading!

Oxley and Mortimer said...

I went through so many emotions reading your post! Glad to know more about you, and really happy for you and your upcoming trip. See ya at the store soon,


Unknown said...

great post. love how you can write an idea into an emotion into a concept, and then compare it all to wine. really well done.

as for the wine blog awards - i'll vote for you for class president if you buy some of my girl scout cookies

Samantha Dugan said...

Hey lovely thanks for posting! As many here can attest, knowing more about me is a very, very slippery slope so be careful what you see as a good thing! I too am looking forward to that trip, can't wait in fact and I can already tell that I will come back inspired and ready to sink my teeth into something...

Wine is always more life than beverage to me so this is simply the way I think but I do thank you for understanding and not, publicly anyway, mocking me for it. A vote for me is a wasted one kid but I would buy your cookies so long as you don't ask me what wine to pair with them!

Thomas said...


I don't have to tell you how I feel about the issue, but the brava is for the execution.

Samantha Dugan said...

Only wish you and I mean you in particular, could have been there. Might have even high-fived or some junk.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Humans like to put other humans in carefully designed boxes labeled "Samantha," or "Michael," or "That Jackass HoseMaster," it's what we do to try and make sense of a complicated individual and a complex world. And we do the same with grape varieties. Be it Chenin Blanc or Zinfandel. Or Gruner Veltliner. You make those points brilliantly here. If I only read your posts here and knew nothing else about you, I might think I knew you, but I know how mistaken that would be. And when you think about it, how many people know I have a vagina?

Approaching every wine, every wine that isn't just generic plonk, with an open mind, trying to understand it even if your first instinct is to dislike it because of its varietal label or origin, is what wine lovers should do. One should taste "blind" without having to put the wine in a bag. But few folks are as blessed with the kind of insight and palate that you possess. They do what they can, and are wise to learn from you.

As for awards, best to ignore them. Laying low won't help. I hope I don't get nominated again either. But it's no matter. If people want the chance to not vote for me, who am I to disappoint them?

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Well my box is anything but carefully designed but if that jackass HoseMaster should want a tour you just have him let me know.

As you know dealing with the general public is always a challenge, and in the case of wine, and all the fear and unknown within it, well it is even more so which makes these little moments when I can pull the chain and click that light on just that much sweeter.

I haven't looked Honey but I'm sure you have been nominated and for you, that is lovely...I just can't abide that horseshit and part of the reason is that you have been overlooked so many times. Total bullshit and I won't be any part of it this year. Profoundly stupid and useless and while I am a fan of wasting my time that particular, whatever it is, won't be getting any of mine. I love you though!

Marcia Macomber said...

Dang! I love Chenin Blanc! Wish I coulda been there... Makes me want to try a bunch of new ones. :-)

Samantha Dugan said...

Well lady, I just gave you 6 new ones to try!

Thomas said...

Awards? What awards?

Back in the 70s (or was it the 80s?), I had a sure-fire way of determining in advance if a California Chenin Blanc was going to be sweet or not: the bottle shape and style used to indicate it.

Those days are over, but the bottle shapes and styles of DOC wines still largely indicate what to least they do for me, and I like that.

If I were a consumer who did not know the differences, I'd probably spend a lot of time buying products I don't need to buy. Either that, or a bad experience would turn me off to any product with the same name--sound familiar, Sam?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Love,
I'm not overlooked for a Poodle, I've been nominated several times, I'm more looked over. The only way to win is to lobby on social media sites for votes, and I am not interested in that. If the judges decided, that would be more interesting, but even then I might not come out on top. Allowing the "public" to vote just makes it into a high school pep rally decided on popularity, not on merit. Being nominated is nice, I suspect all of my regular commenters of nominating me. Making it to the final five is flattering--"qualified" judges decide that. Winning is determined by means I don't care about, and the results reflect that.

Awards have never changed my life, nor carried any importance. A Poodle is that times a thousand.

You're the greatest prize HoseMaster of Wine has ever won.

I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Why yes, yes it does.

Ron My Love,
Boobie prize, that's me. I love you so.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Love,
Yeah, but awesome boobies!

I miss you
I love you!