Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Linoleum Project™ from Splooge Estate


Splooge Estate is proud to announce its newest, some might say thickest, releases yet under our proud new banner, The Linoleum Project™. Who knows how high the ceiling is for great wines? Many wineries strive to find that out. At Splooge Estate, we thought we’d try to see where the linoleum floor for wine lies, and so we named our quest, The Linoleum Project™. The Linoleum Project™ is designed to showcase wines from unusual grapes grown in unusual places and pretty much just made however the hell we feel like making them. These are wines of Intention, Pretension and Lack of Attention. We think you’ll like them, but, really, Enjoyment is not the idea.  The idea is to take an ancient beverage designed to deliver Pleasure and make it an Intellectual Journey. Frankly, many wine lovers will just be too stupid to understand these wines. Too many wines today are about Hedonism; the wines of Splooge Estate are about Onanism; with The Linoleum Project™, we focus on Masochism. We’re not just after the denial of Pleasure, we want to satisfy the wine lover’s feelings of self-loathing and doubt. Perhaps not that hard to achieve, but no other winery seems to even try.

As you would expect from a Splooge Estate project, the wines of The Linoleum Project™ are Natural, Authentic and Real. To take it even further, the wines of The Linoleum Profect™ are also Certified Sensitive. Certified Sensitive wines are acutely tuned in to what you say and feel about them. We ask that you not talk about their flaws while drinking them. THEY’RE RIGHT THERE, ASSWIPE! They can hear you. How would you like it if one of our Certified Sensitive wines talked about that big red thing you always pick at on your nose? Certified Sensitive wines want you to try to understand them even if you don’t really like them at first—think Neo-Nazi Skinheads. With some time and patience and compassion, you might just discover that you actually do like them, or at least understand them. And that’s the point. Any well-made wine can deliver happiness. A wine from The Linoleum Project™ challenges your brain, your sense of smell, and your ability to forgive yourself for spending fifty bucks on creatively packaged crap. Please remember our motto: You Might Be Too Stupid to Understand Our Wines. Chances are this applies to you.

We started The Linoleum Project™ ten years ago when we stumbled upon an ancient vineyard planted to German Colombard. German Colombard is a rare grape known as a “conquering grape.” It conquered French Colombard and Green Hungarian to become German Colombard. Don’t try to figure this out. It’s grape eugenics performed by a higher grape intelligence. The two grapes were forced to cross breed. In viticultural terms, it’s referred to as a Cluster Fuck. But never mind that, the point is that we discovered these old German Colombard vines, which probably originated around 1939, in an untended vineyard behind an abandoned Best Buy. We knew we had stumbled upon destiny. We tended the vineyard and, in 2003, we harvested a mere 50 pounds of fruit from the six acres of vines. We’d have harvested more but homeless people kept eating them. (We recently planted two acres of German Colombard at the Splooge Estate from seeds we sifted from the homeless people’s excrement. Sadly, the vineyard seems to be afflicted with a rare mold, Hobotrytis.)

The 50 pounds of German Colombard were fermented on their own skins and were not destemmed. Basically, we forgot they were even in the winery. After six months, the grapes were pressed (by the local dry cleaner) and the resulting juice was placed in eleven handmade Whoopee Cushions for extended aging. We did lose one container to an unfortunate birthday prank, but, damn, it was funny. We named the wine POOT, which is the German word for “hopeless,” and is taken from the work of Schopenauer. If you don’t know Schopenauer, You Might Be Too Stupid to Understand Our Wines. The 2003 POOT is now available for purchase to Splooge Estate Ejaculate™ members. There is a 1 bottle limit, and we’d like to assure you that, yes, POOT is the shimmering color of Despair. There were no added sulfites at bottling, and one of the bottles must have a fart whistle in it because one’s missing.

In 2005, a neighboring winery, who knew we were on the lookout for vineyards no one else thought were worth anything, turned us on to an old, head-pruned vineyard that we discovered was 80-year-old Frappato. The vines were not in great shape. They had more suckers than a cult wine mailing list. We decided to let this old and distinguished vineyard, located at 3200’ next to a waterfall popular with suicide victims, express itself without any interference from us. Besides, it was way out in the Boonies and a pain in the ass to get to. We harvested two tons of Frappato from the seventeen acres, most of it from twenty really happy vines.

As part of The Linoleum Project™, we love our Frappato! And, in one of those weird synergies that the Universe provides us if we’d only listen, when you say “Frappato” in a really loud voice, it sounds just like the Whoopee Cushion full of German Colombard did when Susie plopped her big ass on it on her birthday! At The Linoleum Project™ we spend way more time thinking about that kind of stuff than actually making wine.

After harvest, the Frappato was gently crushed, one berry at a time, between the butt cheeks of teenage virgins. This is the traditional way Frappato was made in Sicily a few hundred years ago, though there is not much Frappato left in Sicily, and certainly no teenage virgins. Our cult following for The Linoleum Project™ allows us access to many virgin interns who flock to Splooge for reasons only known to them. The Frappato was aged on the lees from whatever was in the barrel before the Frappato for 60 months. It was pretty good after 16 months, even had the pretty red fruit aromas of Frappato, so we figured after 60 months it would be almost four times better! It’s not, but oh well. And, please, remember that our wines are Certified Sensitive, so keep your opinions to yourself as you drink the wine—Frappato is a notoriously thin-skinned grape, and is Sicilian. You wouldn’t be the first person to die from drinking wine from The Linoleum Project™.


32 comments:

Unknown said...

I'm old enough to remember The LP. This piece was music to my ears. Didn't the LP die about the same time as the Green Hungarian?

Andy Perdue said...

"more suckers than a cult wine mailing list ..."

There's the money shot!

Oenophilosopher said...

"The Linoleum Profect". Is that a typo or a slam I don't understand? Maybe you should try your hand at winemaking Hosey, you're so good at slamming all these winemakers who put their lives into it...

Samantha Dugan said...

Certified Sensitive...fucking brilliant love. I love you!

The Sommeliere said...

Ron,gotta get me some of that Clusterfuck!

Dave Miner said...

I thought it was the Scrotum Project??

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Gang,
This piece, such as it is, was inspired by an article in the NY Times Sunday Magazine about Abe Schoener and The Scholium Project. The pretentiousness of it all made me laugh. That, and if you've ever tasted any of those wines, you know what toxic chemical spills they are. But Mr. Schoener is a great interview, smart and articulate, as are all great con men.

Oenophilosopher,
I'll make wine if you'll stop hiding behind anonymity.

A critic, or a satirist's, job is to speak some kind of truth. I feel sorry for folks who buy The Scholium Project wines because of the puff piece in the NY Times. I don't feel sorry for "winemakers who put their lives into it..." Boo-Hoo. If the wines suck, the wines suck. I don't want an incompetent surgeon who put his life into medical school but butchers folks either. Crap like this already has Alice Feiring as its proponent. And Abe Schoener doesn't care in the slightest what I think either. He's clearly having a good time with The Scholium Project. As am I doing this.

David Fish said...

Dude (his royal HMW),
I haven't even had half a cup of coffee before you made me spray it out laughing!
keep up the good work (on the dark side)!

Samantha Dugan said...

Great, now I'm picturing Ya Got Trouble ala Harold Hill...going to be in my head all day now.

Thomas said...

Looks like one or two who want to remain nameless would rather that HoseMaster sweep the Linoleum project under the rug.

Incidentally, I read the first paragraph or two of that piece in the Times Magazine. My thought was to send the Times a note to ask why they insult readers the way they do, and to ask why that issue was titled "Food and Drinks." The only article int he issue that was worth reading was Mark Bittner's regarding "healthy" fast food.

Marcia Macomber said...

Love it when I can guffaw before my eyes have left the title.

This was (one of) the rimshots:
"We recently planted two acres of German Colombard at the Splooge Estate from seeds we sifted from the homeless people’s excrement. Sadly, the vineyard seems to be afflicted with a rare mold, Hobotrytis.)"

David should have known better than to take a sip of coffee while reading! It's just not guaranteed your coffee will stay down the gullet while reading.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Wow, it's funny you should mention "The Music Man." I thought of the same analogy. And I love "The Music Man," though I don't commonly like musicals.

But there's a telling and wonderful moment near the end of the film. Ron Howard confronts Robert Preston as the whole scam is falling apart, accuses him of being a liar. Preston admits he is. But he tells Ronnie Howard that he wanted him in the band so he'd stop moping around, feel proud of himself.

"What band?" Ron Howard asks Harold Hill.

In the most revealing moment of the film, the con man Hill responds, "I always think there's a band, kid." And you know that he's telling the truth. He always believes his own cons. And that's the very definition of a con man.

Now, I'm not really accusing Abe Schoener of being a con man. He certainly isn't. He makes wines that interest him and then sells them with philosophical flair. There's an old saying in comedy, Buy the premise, buy the bit. If a consumer buys his premises, they'll usually buy the wines. For a while.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thomas,
I thought the piece on Abe Schoener was very well-written, and worth the read. It wasn't a critical piece--Asimov didn't rate the wines. But it certainly reflects the current fad for "authentic" wines. But, boy, unless you are really openminded about what you put in your mouth, I worry about folks who spend $100 in a restaurant on one of those wines.

And I always wonder, why is it that we have to carefully nurture and steward the vineyard, but then not steward the resulting wine through a winemaking process--because that makes it more natural? Some folks will believe any hooey.

Thomas said...

Ron,

The magazine issue was titled Food and Drink but sifting through it, all I saw (except for Bittner's bit) was the same old stroke and soak the geek bullshit.

Outside its news reporting, the NY Times generally is a socialite, elitist, celebrity-driven joke. I've often wondered how the down-to-earth Eric Asimov slipped by the celebrity sensors over there.



Cris Whetstone said...

"And I always wonder, why is it that we have to carefully nurture and steward the vineyard, but then not steward the resulting wine through a winemaking process--because that makes it more natural? Some folks will believe any hooey."

You said a million there. This reminds me of the purveyors of top end vodkas. The best vodkas are those with the least flavor. Just like the best wines are supposedly those with the least intervention. No one thinks about how much intervention there is in merely planting a vineyard.

I didn't see the article on Scholium but all I could think of when reading this piece was the wines of Radikon. I literally stopped in the middle of their lineup and moved on. That's saying something because I have infinite curiosity to try interesting wines. The wines were just ****** flawed. All of them and far too flawed to bring any pleasure. Another wine geek friend of mine couldn't get passed two of them. These wines are regularly praised and fawned over by the NY wine elite crowd and often sell well over $100. I thought the emperor had no clothes with cult Napa Cabs. Somehow we've found a new level of bamboozlement.

Thomas said...

Chris:

Not sure if bamboozle is apt.

The best con artist knows that the mark wants to believe. It's just a matter of presenting an illusion that someone has already decided is real.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Cris,
I wouldn't go so far as to say that every orange wine is terrible (though I make fun of them here on my blog, that's just comedic posing) because I haven't had more than a dozen or so. I try to understand them, and other Fringe wines, like Scholium, but there's no getting past your point that if they don't ultimately deliver pleasure, I just don't care about them. They express the vineyard, but they taste like crap? Doesn't say much for the vineyard.

Every art form needs a Fringe element that challenges the status quo. Whether it's a crucifix in a jar full of urine, or an actress sleeping in a box as performance art, the Fringe matters. But those who review the Fringe owe it to those who know nothing of it to be more candid about it. We don't ingest a jar full of urine with a crucifix in it (now there's a statement), but we do put Radikon in our mouths in front of other people. I'm guessing they have similar flavor profiles. Only fair to say explicitly, this wine is far, far outside the realm of what normal folks think of as wine.

WinePourn said...

After I read the first sentence I had to stop and go get my wife's scarf to wear so I could finish reading the rest.

"...was the same old stroke and soak the geek bullshit." - Perfectly put.

The wine geekery, esoteric obscure varietal bull$shit is so pervasive right now...It's like a orange wine fueled bad remake of Revenge Of The Nerds...Those propellerheads are sure gonna show the Cult Cab douchebags a thing or two...err. wait a minute they are/have become the Millenial douchebags. So long as Johanne Bonnet says it's cool, I'm in.

gabriel jagle said...

this piece was pretty fuckin funny. i love the idea of creating a wine that is intended to be masochistic.

as for the comments about natural winemaking, i might say that the oenophilo has a point. its easy to call other people full of shit when you don't actually know how wine is made. but when you need to go outside for fresh air after working with so2, you start to appreciate people who make wine without it.

as for the comment about stewarding a wine the same way you steward a vineyard - i couldn't agree more. making good wine without the use of fancy filters and fining agents is hard. sure, some of it is crap, but some of it is really good, and that stuff should be worth seeking out.

i guess the reason i get frustrated, besides the stupid "electricity isn't natural so no wine is natural" arguement, is that when wines are made with velcerin, it is so poisonous, those wines can't be consumed for six months after the addition. nobody talks about it, and therefore nobody knows about it. and that's just one example. so after working at wineries and seeing all these expensive filters and poisonous fining agents get added to wines, some winemakers decided to make wine without all that stuff, and get accused of being elitist con-artists! sometimes, it's like a foxnews on this comment section.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gabe,
Oh, don't be so defensive. The proof is always in the bottle. And nothing a winemaker adds will kill anyone quicker than the alcohol, and creating alcohol that tastes good is what you as a winemaker do.

My main point about The Linoleum Project is the disingenuous, absurd, elitist, crapola that surrounds the sort of wine it represents. Wine as philosophy, wine as healing the planet, wine as a journey, wine as wisdom and beauty and all things in between. It's a huge crock of colonic mercaptans. How many of those wines have you tasted, Gabe? Scholium, Radikon, Cornelissen... I suspect you wouldn't defend them if you had tasted very many. It isn't about "natural," or "authentic," or "real." It begins with pleasure, not some clown's idea of a bottled science experiment.

No one here cares how the wine is made, but we all care how it smells and tastes to us. Wine is meant to deliver pleasure--I think we all agree about that. All the talk in the world can't make a faulty, chemical spill of a wine taste good, no more than all the talk in the world can make a badly manipulated, manufactured wine taste good.

Hold on to your ideals, Gabe, a lot of great winemakers share them. I have no quarrel with them. But people peddling unpalatable fart water need a good dressing down, no matter whether they peddle it as Natural, or as 97 points.

No one accused you of being an elitist con artist, Gabe. Or anyone else. It's satire. It has little to do with Fox News and more to do with The Daily Show. If only I had fifteen writers working for me. The one I have sucks.

gabriel jagle said...

Ron,

Your writing is great. I really enjoyed the Splooge Estates piece. But the comments I read about natural wines always drive me crazy. You're right, I haven't tasted any of the $100 cult wines that are the darlings of the natural wine movement. I did read the New York Times article, and it did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I get the satire, and trust me, I think its funny.

But the wines I have tasted from small wineries around here, like Evesham Wood, Tuetonic, or Fausse Piste are really incredible and delicious. Even better, they are affordable. Most of all, they are smart people doing cool and unique things, and I am happy to support them.

I expect the average person buying wine at a Safeway doesn't care about that. But I would hope, as a winemaker, that people who buy high-end wines and read about wine in their free time do care about that. Otherwise I'll be working for Walmart Winery in five years. So I apologize if I do get defensive, but reading these comments can be demoralizing sometimes.

Rogue Wino said...

I'm Darwinistic in terms of how I think about people spending their money. If people want to pay premium cash for "unpalatable fart water," let them. Smart people keep their money and use it to become more successful. If only I could think of a gimmick to trick others out of their money- too bad I'm too dumb, aka too honest

Charlie Olken said...

I have it on good authority that Abe likes Chardonnay. He can't be all bad.

Besides, he is a genuine character and he does not care what you or I or Gabe or TP thinks.

I have not had many of his wines, but they are not all undrinkable. Still, he does not need or want anyone to defend him because what he does is what he does. It may or may not work, but at least it has a purpose, an objective.

Ultimately, of course, we all drink what we like and most of us who drive down the middle of the wine road are not drinking Radikon or Scholium or Mathiassen.

Thomas said...

Gabe:

I am in agreement with both Ron's points and with yours. You do not negate each other's opinion.

I've picked out myriad flaws in many of the oddly colored wines that I have tasted. In fact, historically, the way some of the cult wines of today are produced is exactly why the Romans started to apply sulfur to their wines in the second century--to clean them up.

Still, geeks dropping hundreds per bottle refer to the flaws as "interesting," or they say "you don't understand the wines." They want to believe and so they believe. Many of us respond to what we smell, taste, and are asked to fork over for the wines.

While a producer's story may be interesting, I'll wait for the book. What I want is pleasurable wine in the bottle.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gabe,
Making the best wines you can make is always smart. Making the weirdest wines you can make might be fun, but you still have to sell them. So folks try to talk you into them. I cannot tell you how many times I sat in front of a lousy glass of wine listening to a winemaker or sales rep try to convince me it had more terroir, or was more natural, or would be fascinating for my customers. As much as everyone wants wines to be about stories, that's for BEFORE you've tasted the wine. Once you taste it, the story only matters if you like it.

Don't be discouraged. Hey, I'm a niche blogger. Lots and lots and lots of people hate what I do here. That's fine with me. I only do it for my own enjoyment, and to express that annoying inner HoseMaster. And your willingness to express your feelings and opinions in the faces of the old timers here is a blessing. I appreciate it, Gabe. Keep it up.

Rogue Baby,
It's all interesting and fun. There aren't a LOT of champions of those Fringe wines, it's a very very tiny part of the wine biz, but it generates a lot of passion on both sides. We've all paid too much for a wine we ended up hating because we read a review somewhere. Part of wine's learning curve. As for being "too honest," well, you are doomed to poverty.

Thomas,
Yup. I agree with Gabe too. Lots of people making wonderful wines with less intervention than used to be commonplace. Though there's usually more intervention than they admit to. When did people start believing that winemakers never lie?

Charlie,
I like Chardonnay too. Quite a bit. But I'm still a bonehead.

You're right about Mr. Schoener, he doesn't care what we think. I never think for a minute that anyone cares what I think when I write these pieces. I'm only after laughter.

What bothers me about Radikon, et al, is that you have to spend most of your time trying to figure them out while you drink them rather than drinking a wine that is amiable company at the table. I guess I don't want to figure out a wine. I want to enjoy it. Maybe some find enjoyment in the struggle to understand a wine and therefore be thrilled by it. I really don't want to have dinner with those people.

gabriel jagle said...

Ron & Thomas,

Sorry guys, its been a rough week in the cellar. Maybe I did get a bit defensive. I appreciate you letting me rant, and I appreciate your nuanced views. This weekend, I'll try to relax with a nice glass of Spooge :)

Charlie Olken said...

Ron--

The NYT story says it all. There are dozens of very young Somms without any experience who are more interested in proving that they are hip, avant-garde, are willing to piss on the common wisdom.

I am all for that. Half of that crowd will move on to more classic wine in time and the other half will go into the business of selling designer drugs simply because they are different.

Is that so very different from the late-60s, early-70s here in San Francisco? Remember our motto? Don't trust anyone over thirty.

And then we turned thirty, got married, had 2.2 children, moved to the suburbs and became soccer parents.

So, I don't worry about those unknowi8ng children taking our places or their leaders like Abe. After all, we had our Timothy Learys and Dylans.

Cris Whetstone said...

Thomas,

Excellent point re con artists.

Ron,

Yes the fringe elements are often very important. In the arts I have always been more drawn to those than the mainstream. Or at least some spot in between where I find the most brain activity in combination with comfort.

I do have a hard time looking at wine as purely an art though. For me it is in some perfect nexus between art, science and gustatory pleasure. Many will try to look at it from one or two of those places only and that is why we end up in these discussions.

Gabe,

I think there is a place between velcerin additions and those that espouse biodynamics, speak of sulfur as work of the devil and think all sweet German Riesling is a pure manipulation where most of us would be happy and where most of the best wine is made. It's often hard to see that over the loud billboards put up by those who think we need to be concerned with such matters above being concerned with finding wine we just plain like.

Rogue Wino said...

Ron: The problem may lie with spending too much money for any single wine to begin with. Anything over 40 makes me nervous, because I know at that point I'm paying for more than the wine itself.

As to Charlie's comments about the young somms, I can't imagine they can last long in their jobs with that attitude. I love things that are different and natural, but I'm not about to open some weirdo thing at a table that is less-than-delicious. How embarrassing. And Yelpable.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Rogue Baby,
You've learned what good sommeliers need to learn--that your job isn't about You and your taste in wine, it's about giving your customers a great experience in your restaurant. Too many take too long to learn that, start to believe their own press, champion fringe wines out of self-importance. I've seen too many like that lately. They either learn, or, as you say, they don't last long.

As for Yelp, who cares? Just don't spell my name wrong when you complain.

abe said...

truly hilarious. two points: I really AM interested in german colombard. where do I get some? you have correctly identified my dream grapes.
and, I would like to point out, I don't TM anything. that is my only cavil.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Abe,
Thanks. Yeah, I know, no TM. I just like the way it looks in the prose--always seems funnier to me. And more authentic.

German Colombard is pretty aggressive, and most producers the verb at the end of the description insist that. As to where to find it, don't worry, Abe, it will find you.