Monday, June 28, 2010

The HoseMaster's Honest Guide to Grapes Volume 6

When you're at a dinner party and the hosts break out an interesting bottle of wine, what's the first thing you think? Well, if you're like me (you should be so lucky) you're wondering where you put your Rohipnol. But you're also trying to think of something interesting to say about the wine. This is easy if the wine is, say, Merlot or Chardonnay. You just say something gracious like, "Gosh, I hope at least the food will be interesting." Or, "Did you know Merlot has become virtually worthless?" But what if it's a grape you've heard of but don't actually know much about? You don't want to say something embarrassing in front of your date before she slips into a vegetative state. Like, "Wasn't Gruner Veltliner the guy who played Colonel Klink on 'Hogan's Heroes?'" This may tip off your fixation on Bob Crane's home videos. Instead, do what so many wise wine lovers are doing now--memorize the entries on "The HoseMaster's Honest Guide to Grapes." Don't spout the dubious information found on Wikipedia (I just found out "Wikipedia" isn't what you call a Hawaiian pedophile). You don't know who wrote that crap. Here, at least, you absolutely know who writes this crap. A baboon with a keyboard, that's who.


Everyone in the wine business is just sick to death of Pinot Noir's popularity. It's quickly becoming the Sarah Palin of grapes. Dress it up, slap its name on the marquee, give it that distinctive smell of barnyard, and the rubes line up to buy it. The best places to grow Pinot Noir are Burgundy, Sonoma's Russian River Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Oregon (yawn) and, some would argue, New Zealand. Yeah, New Zealand. I've heard a few people say the Pinot Noirs from New Zealand are hobbit-forming. I don't see it. It's a country full of sheep and guys studying the Graze Anatomy. In Burgundy, the greatest Pinot Noirs come from the Grand Cru vineyards of the Cote de Nuits. The finest vineyards are designated Grand Cru, followed closely by the vineyards designated Premier Cru, and then the crap they have at J. Cru. The slightly feminine versions are found in the Tom Crus. And, finally, I mustn't neglect Pinot Noir with bubbles in it, which is either called Champagne, or, at Neverland Ranch, Baby's First Bath. Champagne produced from Pinot Noir is called Blanc de Noir, while Champagne produced from Chardonnay is called Blanc du Bois because it always depends upon the kindness of strangers.

Interesting facts about Pinot Noir:

In Italy it's called Pinot Nero because Italians like to fiddle with it.

There are more than 50 different registered clones of
Pinot Noir, and they all travel around together in a little tiny car.

"Pinot" is French for "pine," and it is thought the grape got its name because its clusters resemble pine cones and winemakers often hang one from their rearview mirror and use it as an air freshener.

Other names for Pinot Noir:

Syrah's Bitch (or, in rap, Shiraz Bee-yatch)
Spatburgunder Pferdscheisse
The Clone Ranger


For many years Sangiovese was considered a great grape, and then it was planted in California and everybody hated it. The same thing happened to the Dodgers. Sangiovese is the noble grape of Tuscany, where it goes by many names. It's Sangiovese in Chianti, Brunello in Montalcino, Prugnolo Gentile in Montepulciano, Morellino in Scansano, and Marcello in Mastroianni. "Sangiovese" loosely translated from Latin means "bloody jug wine." The clones of Sangiovese brought to California in the '70's were transported by means of suitcases as a moving tribute to the many Italians buried in suitcases in the Adriatic Sea and the East River in New York. Sangiovese, unfortunately, didn't make the big splash those suitcases did. The Chianti region, where Sangiovese thrives, is divided into seven subregions--Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina, Chianti Gary Sinise, Chianti Fiorello La Guardia, Chianti Ricardo Montalban, Chianti Em Anti Em, and Chianti Colli Umama. Consumers would be wise to look for wines from Chianti Classico with the Gallo Nero on the neck, the black cock that guarantees a good time. Don't they always?

Interesting facts about Sangiovese:

Blending Cabernet Sauvignon into Sangiovese adds a lot to the final wine, mostly to the price.

Vin Santo is the dessert wine made from Sangiovese, and legendary broadcaster for the LA Dodgers.

If laid end to end, all the different labels of Sangiovese produced in California would then actually have a purpose.

Other names for Sangiovese:

Atlas Peaked
Brunello DeVille


When you say Argentina, the three M's come to mind--meat, Malbec and Mengele. Malbec, of course, is one of the famed red Bordeaux varieties, though it's relatively uncommon in Bordeaux these days, like humility. Somehow, Malbec has risen from the dead and, as the grape identified with Argentina, made a miraculous comeback. In France, Malbec is most closely identified with the region of Cahors, where it often has a horsey aroma, and was memorialized in the popular tune, "A horse is horse, Cahors, Cahors/But no one can talk to a horse, Cahors..." In Cahors, Malbec is called Cot Noir, which is its stripper name. The sudden popularity of Malbec can be attributed to sommeliers who generally mistake novelty for quality, but rightly believe that people are stupid enough to believe whatever you say about wine if you've purchased an M.S. degree online, or at BevMo's 5 cent sale where you can buy an M.S. and get a C.S.W. for a nickel more. It's a ripoff.

Interesting facts about Malbec:

Of the five red Bordeaux varieties (dweebs and anal retentives say there are six, counting Carmenere, but these are people you should wear a bubble suit around), Malbec is Gummo.

Malbec is very sensitive to frost, but loves Sandburg.

Argentinian Malbecs are among the exclusive subset of wines that are all made to taste the same, like Gummi bears, that also includes New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Lodi Zin and Vinho Verde. You had one, you had 'em all. Like the Osmond Brothers.

Other names for Malbec:

Cot Ballou
Meritage Leftover
Buenos Errors

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pinotage, Poodles and Poetry

I usually like to post pieces about one subject. I have this regulator in my brain that tells me how long a post should be, how far to take the tastelessness, when to quit. It doesn't work, but I have one. But I thought this time I'd just improvise a bit, give you poor suckers a glimpse into my twisted mind, let you see what runs through my head when I'm driving, or sitting on my redwood deck flipping off bluejays. Herewith, some very random thoughts...

Every four years the World Cup comes around and I am forced to talk football with strangers. I hate soccer. It has to be the stupidest game in the world, unless you count wild turkeys. After
all, what sets us apart from our animal brethren is our ability to think and the use of our remarkable and dexterous hands--so I know, let's play a sport that doesn't allow the use of either! Let's use our head not for our highly evolved brain, but for whacking a ball into a net. What other sport doesn't allow you to use your hands? Sado-Masochism? The guys lining up to defend a penalty kick need a "safe" word. "CHOCK FULL O' NUTS!" might work. And what is with the penalty cards? How stupid is that? The officials pull out a flash card, yellow or red, after one guy kicks another guy in the shins. Two yellow cards or one red card and you're expelled. Sounds like those home pregnancy tests. And do we have to drink South African Pinotage while we watch? Pinotage is a hybrid grape created by crossing Pinot Noir with Garbage. Wake me when it's over.

Why haven't more famous poets written about wine?

Men always
Seem asses
When they bring
Riedel glasses.

--Dorothy Parker

"Oak" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the wine--
And squirts its waste and woody doo--
Upon this head of mine.

I've heard it in the chillest Chard--
And on the strangest Zin--
Yet, never, will it ever end--
You just can't fuckin' win.

--Emily Dickinson

I sing the blog electric,
The armies of me I love engirth me, and I engirth them
They will not let me off until till I speak in third person, accept free samples,
Embrace corrupt, and charge them full what my blog is worth.

--Walt Whitman

I'm sure you're all interested in my predictions for the 3rd Annual Poodles. These are tight, hotly contested categories. Like the Wiener Nationals.

Best Wine Blog Graphics, Other Crap, and More Look At Me I Know How to Work Photo Shop

Swirl Smell Slurp
--A blog by a married couple you really don't want to know

Best Industry/Business or Business/Industry or MYOBid'ness Blog

New York Cork Report
--We're a third rate region with a second rate blog!

Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog That Still Don't Sell Wine

Bigger Than Your Head
--Where Adjectives Go to Die

Best Single Subject/Broken Record Wine Blog

--If only Iberia Had an "S" in front of it

Best Winery Blog Considering How Much They Have to Lie

Tablas Creek
--If We Were In Napa We'd Be Really Important

Best Writing on a Wine Blog Unless You Don't Skim

Steve Heimoff
--You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

Best New Wine Blog That Won't Ever Make It

Drink Nectar
--It Just Seems Like I've Been Around Forever

Best Overall Wine Blog That Makes the OWC Look Good, Which Ain't Easy

--Because I Can Do This In Your Sleep

Monday, June 21, 2010


Oh, to be headed to Walla Walla and the Wine Bloggers Conference! It would be like a dream come true. All of those talented and brilliant bloggers in one room! It sends chills up and down my spine. Something they can only imagine--having a spine. All of those titans of wine in one room, well, it makes me wish for one thing. If only writers' block were as contagious as the Ebola virus...

The Wine Bloggers Conference, better known as Oodles of Poodles (or OOPS, for short) is the annual meeting of Wineabee Bloggers and their handlers. They converge on the unwitting town of Walla Walla this year for speeches, seminars and awards. The agenda shows a lineup of talent rivaling the editorial board of Penny Saver. First up, keynote speaker STEVE! Heimoff, the Justin Bieber of the wine blog world. Expect large crowds and girls tossing panties. Many will toss breakfast. And you can Leave it to Bieber that STEVE! will wax rhapsodic about his favorite subject matter. What a successful blogger STEVE! is. Eventually, STEVE! will speak about "The Future of Wine Writing," which, coincidentally, is the name of his upcoming book. HoseMaster of Wine was given a special sneak peek at the index, which I reprint here in its entirety:

Heimoff, Steve pp 1-235

Parker, Robert debt owed to Steve p. 12, lucky p. 42, obituary p. 49

Wine Enthusiast debt owed to Steve p. 14, obituary p. 36

STEVE! will lecture the Poodles about ethics and how to pretend you have them, as well as the huge influence social media is having on the wine business. He'll speak about the influence of ROI in the way wineries view bloggers, as well as his abiding love for ROI's partner, Siegfried. Be sure to arrive early, and be prepared to spend an extra fifteen minutes when STEVE!'s speech is through for the applause to die down.

And don't forget to sign up early for the Saturday seminar "The Future of Wine Writing" with STEVE!, Tom Wark and Ken Payton. Am I sensing a theme? Could it be "The Future of Wine Writing?" Could it be the same theme as last year's OOPS? And the year before? Maybe. But, let's face it, OOPS has the same problem as wine bloggers--coming up with original ideas. I am so upset I won't be able to sit and listen to this panel discussion! Led by the God of Poodles, Tom Wark (ironic, isn't it, that his surname is the very sound a harelip Poodle makes), the panel will focus on wine writing, which one of them has even been paid to do! Clearly, these three men are experts. It's like going to a panel discussion of sex featuring two eight-year-olds and Warren Beatty. But, remember, Poodles, don't ask Mr. Payton any questions or look directly into his eyes. He will bite you, and his bite has been compared to that of a Komodo dragon, though the Komodo dragons are suing for defamation of character.

The Wall Street Journal's Lettie Teague is the keynote speaker on Saturday! Yes. I'm not kidding. I know! Can you believe it? And she's going to tell us how to find our voices! Just like that. Turns out you don't need talent, you just need a voice. Well, she's living proof of that!

There's just so much to do at OOPS! Yet the main attraction is meeting the other wine bloggers, sniffing the other Poodles. Oh my God, I scrolled through the list of attendees and it took me right back to when I visited the Vietnam War Memorial. It should be a blast shaking the hands of all those famous wine bloggers and sharing your thoughts about your favorite posts. "I loved your post about Rose and that it's the new wine cooler! Great post." "I love how you match wine with old comic books! That's so brilliant. Heidi Barrett wines with Wonder Woman! Wow. And then Fred Franzia with Jughead! Perfect. Rombauer Chardonnay with Baby Huey! Great post." It will certainly be an OOPS to treasure. A roomful of the Legends of Wine Blogging. There hasn't been this much wine knowledge in one room at the same time since the last meeting of Al Qaeda.

Of course, one of the highlights of OOPS will be the awarding of the 2010 Poodle Awards. The
presentation of the Poodles is going to be hosted by Alan Kropf from Mutineer Magazine. I love Mutineer Magazine! Whenever I want to find out the latest 2007 news in our wonderful industry, I read the current edition of Mutineer! Mutineer redefines "cutting edge!" It redefines it as dull. It's like Palate Press, but at least you have the consolation of having paid for it. Most of the wine world will be anxiously awaiting the results of the 2010 Poodles. (And the nominees for Best Writing on a Wine Blog are...) There are no higher awards in the world of wine blogs. Unless you count free wine, press junkets and Alder Yarrow's home phone number (1-800-EGOTRIP). The voting is very close this year, and all eleven of the judges will be present for the awards ceremony. Ask them for a peak at their trephination scars! Yes, these people can spot talent like seagulls can spot your forehead, using the exact same technique.

Just remember, no matter who wins the Poodles, you're all winners! Your blogs are widely read and vastly influential--at least with the other 299 people at OOPS. Let me be the first to say, "Great post!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Obituaries, and Other Good News

It's been a somber week for the HoseMaster. Death can do that to you. I mean actual Death, not the living death that reading Reign of Terroir can bring. It is my sad duty to inform my loyal readers of the deaths of the following significant figures in my life, and in the life of the wine business. I'd ask for a moment of silence, but that seems unnecessary given the quality of my comedy.


A renowned and important figure in wine, once the heir apparent to Merlot as the wine every
pinhead orders in a restaurant, a position now held by admitted sissy Pinot Noir, Syrah has died. The cause of death has not been announced, but Syrah had long been suffering from dementia and was thought to have been homeless for many years. When last seen alive, Syrah was noticeably disheveled and smelled gamey. His remains had washed ashore in Australia, the place widely believed responsible for his death.

At an early age Syrah made his reputation in the Northern Rhone Valley of France where his Hermitage was considered one of the greatest wines in the world. The Chave family, among others, adopted Syrah in his formative years and groomed him into greatness. But a falling out had Syrah fleeing to Australia where he changed his name to Shiraz after living with Peter Allen and falling in love with musicals. For many years thereafter people believed that Shiraz had originally been from the city of Shiraz in Persia. This rumor lives on today, though it's clear that there is no Chave of Iran.

Shiraz was an enormous success in Australia. Abandoning his familiar roots, no pun intended, in Hermitage, Shiraz put Australia on the map, though it must have been a pretty crappy map if it didn't have Australia on it, hell, it's damn continent, though a puny one. Within a few years, Shiraz was seemingly ubiquitous on the world wine stage. Syrah was quickly forgotten, his old identity hidden like Tom Cruise's sexuality beneath Nicole Kidman. Shiraz was at the forefront, sitting on top of the world from his home Down Under, like a viticultural Crocodile Dundee. Indeed, Shiraz would soon turn out to be a big Croc.

His fans came to expect him to be inexpensive. His fame rested on Rosemount, the pseudonym he used to infiltrate every supermarket in the world. Then he made some poor decisions and slowly drifted into the sexual underbelly of nearby Thailand, falling under the spell of Yellow Tail. It was the Yellow Tail that began his undoing, his addiction to wanting it often and wanting it cheap.

Shiraz attempted comebacks many times under his old name, but his public wanted nothing to do with California Syrah. His act was tired, he showed visible signs of stress, and in many of his California appearances he was obviously green and unpolished, as if he'd been left too long on his weary stems. But Syrah kept trying and trying to recapture his glory days, his days of high prices and high praise. But the public, the press, turned their back on him. His days in the limelight were over.

Syrah was pronounced dead by Eric Asimov in June of 2010. There will undoubtedly be attempts to revive Syrah, but he's dead. In a statement released today, Syrah's old friend Grenache said, "There was just something about Syrah when he was at his best. In his youth, he was muscular, yet charming, like Hilary Swank but not so butch. And even in his later years when he was fat, he had the ability to make you smile, to make you remember the beauty he once possessed. He will be much missed."


Once the up-and-coming player in the wine game, Organic fell prey to corruption and was discovered last month dead in a compost pile. From the aroma of chicken shit, authorities suspect foul play.

There was a time when Organic was the darling of the wine business. Wineries flocked to her like
wine bloggers to unemployment lines. Her name was on the lips of every winery owner, whether he actually knew her or not. When Organic allowed you to put her name on your wine bottle it was prestigious and hip. Wine lovers wanted her. Organic made them feel like they were contributing to society. Sure, they drove SUV's and drank water from plastic bottles, but at least they got drunk saving the environment. The illusion served Organic well, made her desirable and famous.

But her popularity was her downfall. Corruption followed success, as it often does in the wine business (see Wine Spectator, Chateau and Estates obits). Corporations lobbied her, successfully getting Organic to lower both her standards, and then her 100% Organic panties and show them her emergency evacuation route. Her name began appearing everywhere, often in places she never would have allowed before. Walmart produce, clothing made in Indonesia, chain restaurants, boutique coffee chains that herald the end of civilization as we know it. Organic became meaningless. But it was to get worse.

BioDynamics emerged as Organic's replacement and sounded her death knell. Created by Rudolf Steiner, and promulgated by a long list of delusional winemakers, BioDynamics quickly replaced Organic in the minds of short-sighted consumers. Organic had sold out. BioDynamics was pure and spiritual, the Tammy Faye Bakker of viticulture. It wasn't long after the appearance of BioDynamics on the American wine scene that Organic was found dead. No charges have been filed against Steiner's estate, but BioDynamics is under investigation. Authorities believe evidence has been buried in cow horns in an undisclosed location.

There was no one at the Organic service. No one cares.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Letters, I Get Letters, I Get Stacks and Stacks of Letters

As you might imagine, my mailbox overflows with hate mail. Most of it from the AARP. Old fucks. But a lot of it comes from Viewers Like You. People I've offended or outraged, people I've insulted or hectored, people who wish I would be nicer, more like 1WineDoody or other bloggers who personify the success of Electroshock Therapy. What's crazy about folks who write hate mail is that they even bother. It takes a lot of energy and time to write a nasty letter to someone you hate. It's like going on a lousy date with someone so ugly the waiter serves their food stuffed inside a mackerel and having sex with them anyway. Which is how I learned to like mackerel, but that's a different story. I love hate mail. Here are a few of my recent favorites.

I was surprised to hear from this person. But you never know who's reading your blog...

Dear Mr Master of Hose,

I was referred to your natural disaster of a blog by someone who felt sorry for me. I've had it rough the past few weeks, what with my company turning the Gulf of Mexico into a giant toilet. BP makes one mistake, one little explosion on one offshore oil rig, and you'd think that was the only thing in the world that mattered. Sheesh. Let's look at the bright side. The fish that will be caught will be pre-packed in oil! This should save those whining fishermen lots of money. And, anyway, it's the damn Gulf of MEXICO, not the Gulf of USA, but you don't hear the Mexicans complaining. Not that it would matter if they did. When Meg Whitman becomes Governor of California she's going to buy Mexico and have them all evicted. And speaking of Whitman, how about the disgusting slick she left on her little eBay? How come no one is calling for her to clean up all the crap floating around there? Homemade Bert and Ernie merkins and crocheted iPads for Depends and all that other disgusting flotsam. All we did was spill a little crude out in the middle of the damn ocean where, frankly, it smelled bad to begin with from all the pollutants our refineries have pumped into the water for the past fifty years.

And, by the way, we expect to have that well capped very soon with a new plan I devised inspired by a movie I recently watched on the Adult Channel in my New Orleans hotel room. I've got my engineers designing a gigantic BP! Get it? Butt Plug! Slide that sucker in and, bam, no more icky gooey leakage. The BP BP is sure to work. And it's about time the Earth learned the joy of anal erotica. It changed my life.

Speaking of which, your blog spews more disgusting stuff in one post than our well does in a week. Why the hell hasn't someone tried a Top Kill on you? Oh, that's right, you're not at the top. Maybe someone should try a Loser Kill on your blog. I know you think you're funny, Mr Master, but, really, your jokes are about as funny as an oil spill and twice as toxic. Do all your readers have to wear hazmat suits? You're such a lowlife, I wouldn't abuse you with somebody else's dipstick. Though it does give me great comfort at a trying time like this to know that when it comes to polluting the United States of America, BP cannot compete with the HoseMaster of Wine.

Tony Hayward

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by this piece of hate mail.

You No-Talent Fake,

How dare you aim your petulant, pedantic, pusillanimous, puerile, pissant blog at the esteemed judges of the Wine Blog Awards. The eleven of us have more talent put together than you have
in your little finger! Our selections for the prestigious Wine Blog Awards, which are not called Poodles, Right, Wine Blog Awards Trophy by the way, but the Doodies, after the greatest wine blogger in history, the very wet dream of wine marketing people everywhere, 1WineDoody (and don't go making any scatalogical remarks about how Poodles Doodie all over the Wine Bloggers' Conference either, Enema Breath, we don't appreciate that sort of name-calling), are perfect. Hey, you don't even know us, how dare you insult us! We weren't asked to judge the quality of wine blogs because we're stupid. That was just a bonus.

We know that you think you deserved a nomination for Best Writing on a Wine Blog. Yeah, right, fat chance. We're giving it to Heimoff and that's the end of it. The guy won't speak at the Conference if we don't, and our first choice, Ron Popeil, turns out to be dead. We want to give the Doodie to the Negress because she's cool and, well, now that Obama has made it hip, it just made sense, but we have to give it to Heimoff. By the way, that voting thing, well, let's just say the WBA uses the same vote counting technique as Kim Jong Il. There are always fools that vote and believe the popular vote carries 50% of the weight. Sure it does. And Kobe Bryant never travels. We, the judges, picked eight winners and thirty-two randomly generated competitors. You don't think we read all that blog crap, do you? Have you read Bigger Than Your Head? The guy writes like Ted Kaczynski, but without the interesting hobbies.

You weren't nominated this year and you won't ever be nominated. You suck. All you do is insult the art of wine blogging as exemplified by our fine nominated wine blogs. These are blogs that are as comfortable and predictable as a "Gilligan's Island" rerun, but with far less drain on the intellect. The nominated blogs know that their job is marketing. Their job is to sell pedestrian wines and fraudulent gadgets and sanctimonious events nonstop and without questions. Is this so hard to understand, CrapMeister? You weren't even close to being nominated. We almost did give you a special award, though. Best Wine Blog to Read Out Loud to Gitmo Detainees.

There's a reason we eleven judges chose to be anonymous, and it wasn't to avoid lobbying from pinhead wine bloggers--as if the predetermined awards could be changed by poorly written emails. We chose anonymity because we deserve it, that's why! Shithead.

The Eleven Wine Blog Award Judges (not one of whom is a marketing person, we swear, not even one of us, why would that be?)

And, finally...

Listen, Pinhead,

I can't believe you told him. What the fuck were you thinking? You and I had a good thing going. You were the first man in a long time to melt my glacier. You raised the temperature of my globes with your man-made emissions. I worshiped your hanging chad. But now you've gone and ruined it. You just had to brag about it, didn't you, HoseMinuscule? You just couldn't help yourself. And now Al wants a divorce and we have to pretend it's amicable and all just fine for the press, to save Al's jowly face. You just had to post about your affairs with me and Liv Tyler and Robinson Cano, you whore for fame. You just had to declare, "Tipper, Cano and Tyler Too!" Well, I hope you're satisfied. I know I never was.


Monday, June 7, 2010


Longtime readers will notice that I have removed my surname from the title of my blog. I think it's time. I'm a one-name brand in the wine business if there ever was one, like Liza is on Broadway, or Sting in the music world, or Shamu in the world of water and drowning people. When I call upon the finest wineries in California, many of which you won't have heard of, at least not until I write about them in Wine Enthusiast and make their reputations, I usually just say, "It's STEVE!," and that's enough. They know who that is. I often see myself referred to as just plain Steve in my favorite wine blogs. That's always how 1WineDoody refers to me and he's my bbffILF (best blog friend...well, you know the rest). If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for us. So from now on, I'm just STEVE!

I've just learned that I have won the coveted "Best Writing on a Wine Blog" Award. The awards haven't been announced yet officially, but all the balloting has been done and the judges have made their final decisions, so I think it's safe to say that I'm the winner. I don't think my thank you is the least bit premature. What I'd like to do is thank you, my readers, for voting for me and recognizing what I think is ridiculously apparent. STEVE! is the finest writing on a wine blog. And by that I don't mean the most creative, though I am still chuckling at my whimsical parody of "Les Cages Aux Folles" starring Robert Parker and Marvin Shanken--that was clearly inspired. I just mean the best. However, in all fairness, I don't think it's the fault of the other four nominees that they were up against a writer of my ability and stature. It's just bad luck. I admire the work of all four of my fellow nominees, though I've never read any of their blogs. Paul Gregutt and I both write for Wine Enthusiast and I can vouch for the fact that it's not his fault he's assigned to the borderline appellations of our northern neighbors. It's just simple logic. He didn't write an indispensable wine book like "STEVE'S! Indispensable Wine Book: Interviews I Granted California's Finest Winemakers." And none of the other nominees has written a definitive guide like my "STEVE'S! Definitive Guide to the Russian River: The Appellation I Made Famous." I like Paul, I like what he's done with the wines of Washington State and the abilities God gave him. I think he has a bright future in music. I just want to humbly thank everyone who voted for me for the now prestigious Wine Blog Awards.

For those of you who read my blog and think that all it takes is monumental talent to do what I do, a justifiable opinion to be sure, let me just say that it also takes hard work and dedication. Having the most successful and interesting wine blog isn't a matter of luck. My work days revolve around my paying job as wine critic for Wine Enthusiast. This is a very powerful job. Yes, I've heard the jokes going around about the Wine Enthusiast. Which is better, the circulation of the Wine Enthusiast, or the circulation of Dick Cheney? Well, Cheney ain't dead yet. Not that funny. I spend hours every day tasting the wines and assigning them numbers, using a specially designed Magic 8 Ball. It's only after those ratings are done that I am able to think about my award-winning blog STEVE! How do I talk about the burning subjects in the wine world in a way my readers will be able to understand? Will I be able to work in secret messages to my bbffILF? How do I generate comments?

I'll let you in on a little secret. The last question is an easy one for me. Longtime readers who read STEVE! carefully may have noticed that whenever I have a couple of posts in a row that receive a measly amount of comments, I find a new way to talk about one of three subjects guaranteed to generate participation. I churn out another column on the 100 Point Scale. Or I write a piece about the diminishing influence of Robert Parker. Or I can always post about wine bloggers--that's a surefire way to get comments. The genius lies in making each tired old subject seem fresh. It's like squeezing lemon juice on week-old fish. Once my readers swallow it, eventually they'll spit something out. This information might come in handy for the rest of you bloggers. Absolutely no subject generates comments from wine bloggers like wine blogging--they love to talk about themselves because it's the one subject they know. Well, that and the basic emptiness of existence.

I'll be off to give the keynote address at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla where I'll also be accepting my "Best Writing on a Wine Blog" award. I'm honored. If you had asked me two years ago if wine blogs would have any impact on the wine industry I'd have said, No, I don't think so. What's changed since then?


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Labyrinth of Poodles

Any time something is written against me, I not only share the sentiment but feel I could do the job far better myself. Perhaps I should advise would-be enemies to send me their grievances beforehand, with full assurance that they will receive my every aid and support. I have even secretly longed to write, under a pen name, a merciless tirade against myself.--
Jorge Luis Borges

It's the other one, HoseMaster, that everything happens to. I love books, Northern Rhone wines, baseball, the aroma of wet dog in someone else's bottle of wine, the prose of Jerry Lewis, and limp celery. And he, Hosemaster, loves the same, only in a creepy way, a way that demeans while pretending to celebrate, like an award for a cretinous, self-published blog. I wouldn't say that I hate him, that might be hyperbole, but I live so that he can create, so that he can aim his broadsides at the fools who give points, are pointless, point at themselves ad nauseum. And more and more I become him, that loathsome creature. I confess that he has written a funny piece now and then, managed to heap scorn on the right people, people with astonishing amounts of hubris who certainly do not own mirrors or they would notice they all look the same in the mirror's reflection. Is that Laube reflected in that circus mirror, or Parker, though it looks like Tanzer, and might be a Heimoff if only it were much smaller, and I don't mean in height, I mean in significance. They are all one and know it, but must not surrender to the illusion that they are individuals or they might cease to exist. That is, if they exist at all. If being a wine critic can be defined as existence, which most would say it cannot. More and more I am subsumed by HoseMaster and little by little I can no longer be saved by his works. His works are not mine, and not his, but are owned by the Internet, that Truthslayer, and consumed by thankless automatons with only electronic lives. They are nothing without FaceBook. The word is apt. It is not FacesBook. They have but one Face, and it's pretty hopeless and ugly. It's the Face of the Internet, it is God's Face. It is the face of loneliness. For what is real loneliness but to be surrounded by imaginary friends? Friends who all have the same Face. Your Face.

In my dreams now I am him all the time. The separation I feel from him in my waking hours does not exist. I am him in my dreams. I do not exist in my own dreams. In his dreams we are being pursued by poodles. More poodles than one can count. Everywhere we turn there are poodles. They seem threatening, but are not. The poodles are different colors, relentlessly white, chronically black, and all kinds of sizes, though they are mostly toys, and they are all toothless. We run and we run, HoseMaster and I, though it is only him in my dreams and I am forced to will myself into his dream mind, which he forbids, though it is I who is asleep. Wherever we turn there are more and more toothless poodles. The poodles bark as ferociously as they can, which is a kind of chorus of canine yawns, but it is still inexplicably frightening. Even more horrifying is the way they urinate everywhere, marking each other, leaving each other messages that only have meaning for them and no one intelligent or sane. When one poodle disappears, another one takes its place almost immediately. They reproduce without procreation. The poodles are a many-headed Cerberus of inanity. He is surrounded by the comically scary poodles and when he runs, and as I struggle to keep up with him, with myself, HoseMaster is caught in a labyrinth to which there is no end, and in which every turn leads to a post, a post on which each poodle has left a bladder-inspired message. Here is the post about Wine Tasting Wednesday, a frightening puddle of stupidity beneath it. Around the labyrinth's next corner is the Parker post. Or is it the Laube post? Doesn't it seem like the Vaynerchuk post? Does it matter if they are all the same? No. But to imagine it the Vaynerchuk post, does that make it more pleasant to micturate against? But save some, there is another post around the corner. Or are they all just the same post, the same post that every poodle visits and revisits and from which there is no escape? If you read them, they are the same posts excreted by different poodles, who believe they are different, but are, in fact, very much the same.

Most nights the poodles have human faces. The males are all castrated, powerless and toothless. The bitches parade around, tails up, but they are clearly unsatisfied. The human faces when they appear to the HoseMaster are also toothless. Saliva pours from the canineless canines. This passes for thought among the poodles. If they stop barking they vanish. HoseMaster, using me as his vessel, his portal into this dreamworld we all live in, hopelessly tries to get them to be quiet. He looks at their human faces and knows what to do.

HoseMaster and I run into the labyrinth once again, only now the walls of the labyrinth are covered in mirrors. He knows not to look into any mirror. I know never to look into a mirror in his dreams. The mirror will reveal him to himself as another poodle. But the poodles don't know this. The poodles pursue HoseMaster into the mirrored labyrinth. They bark toothlessly at their own reflections. The castrated boys lift their legs and piss on themselves, thinking they are leaving an intelligent message for others to read. The bitches just stare at their reflections and seem confused. Only one poodle, neither dog nor bitch, stares back at each of them. Everywhere they turn it is the same poodle, drooling. The poodles are silenced, and they vanish.

But we always wake up.