Monday, July 14, 2014

AuthenticLand!


Splooge Estates, and our sister winery, The Linoleum Project™, are proud to announce the opening of our newest and most exciting project to date, AuthenticLand! Located in Los Angeles, California, AuthenticLand isn’t just a winery that focuses on Natural, Real, Authentic and Certified Sensitive® wines, AuthenticLand is also Southern California’s latest amusement park! Bring the whole family! While Mom and Dad sample the latest releases from The Linoleum Project™, the kids can experience the thrill of AuthenticLand’s most fearsome roller coaster, Shittin’ Brix! AuthenticLand promises to be all-natural fun for the whole family.

Those of you who love wine may be asking yourselves, Why Los Angeles? Why start a new winery in the Least Natural City in the World, a city where the movies are reel but the tits are fake? Splooge Estate’s Director of Winemaking Seaman Samples explains:

“We’re running out of weird old vineyards in Northern California to exploit. Every damned vineyard planted to Trousseau or Negrette (and if you haven’t had our co-fermented Trousseau and Negrette, you owe yourself a bottle of the The Linoleum Project™ “Trou Gret”—look for John Wayne on the label!), Chenin Blanc or Furmint (come on, haven’t you had our Furmint and Chenin Blanc combination, The Linoleum Project™ Chenin de Fur?—it’s our version of overpriced Night Train!) is overrun with creepy young winemakers looking to make names for themselves by producing Natural Wines from orphan varieties. These young winemakers are all over these orphan varieties like the sex trade on runaways. Pimp ‘em out, slap ‘em in some fancy wrapping, and sell ‘em to mouth-breathing perverts. At Splooge Estate, we saw this coming. We knew there were vineyards in Southern California, and we knew they were old. That’s all we needed to start lining up investors to build AuthenticLand. Are the vineyards any good? They’re old! That’s all you need to sell Authentic wine. If we say they’re great vineyards, well, we can take that to the bank, regardless of whether you can. And, besides, once we’re done with the fruit, hell, it doesn’t really matter how good the vineyard was.”

Once we decided to build yet another winery focused on producing fine wines that express the character of the land, even if that character is primarily pavement (which the first releases capture perfectly, having been fermented in cement eggs—not winemaking cement eggs, but eggs harvested from very old termagants), we then decided to make AuthenticLand a Southern California must-see tourist destination, like Disneyland, Sea World, and Kim Kardashian’s ButtBonanza. (What’s that brown mark on your forehead? Must be Ass Wednesday at ButtBonanza!) At AuthenticLand, there’s our Certified Sensitive® wines for the adults to taste and purchase. Remember, The Linoleum Project™ makes only Certified Sensitive® wines. Leave your critical faculties behind when you taste our wines! Judgment has no place in AuthenticLand, any more than quality control does. Don’t say anything negative about our wines, no matter how bad they taste! They’re right there, right in front of you, and they’re Certified Sensitive®! Have some human feelings, for fuck’s sake, the wines do. They’ve been crushed once, don’t crush them again. Even a dirty look can render them dumb, and ruin them for everyone. Just drink ‘em and praise ‘em, even if you don’t understand their reason to exist. It’s what the “wine critics” do.

While the adults are enjoying the wines, the kids can explore all of AuthenticLand’s worlds. Our aim is to make it both fun and educational for the kids.

FANTASYWORLD!
What reflects the philosophy of Authentic Wines better than Fantasy? Kids will line up to experience “It’s a Small Lot World,” where singing and dancing dolls that bear remarkable resemblances to major wine reviewers (Look, isn’t that Jay McInerney dressed as a little Dutch boy about to put his finger in another dike!) teach the kids that wine made in small lots is better than wine made in big lots by definition! Unless, of course, as Thomas Mathews in his Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit (an exact replica of the one he wears to Wine Spectator Grand Awards!) reminds the kids, they’re major advertisers! “It’s a Small Lot World” is fun for all ages, but don’t let that catchy jingle get caught in your brain for the rest of the day! Mommy and Daddy are drunk in the tasting room, and even Certified Sensitive® can make Daddy belligerent. In 2016, look for the newest FantasyWorld attraction to open. It’s “Alice in Wonderland!” Ride magic earthworms as you follow Alice Feiring down the Rabbit Hole of Self-Delusion, dine with her at the Tea Party and Drink the Kool-Aid table with the Mad Hatter Randall Grahm and the March Hairless Terry Theise! Oh, the fun you’ll have!

TOMORROWORLD!
We know that the great wines of today are Natural, Authentic, Real and Certified Sensitive®, but what will the future bring? We know that orange wines are the best wines, that sulfites cause brain cancer, and indigenous yeast have the highest yeast IQ’s. So what’s next? You’ll get a peek at the future as you tour AuthenticLand’s “Winery of Tomorrow!” Do you love those skin contact “orange” white wines? In the future, Natural Winemakers will make white wine using only the skins! Yes, peeling each Torrontes grape by hand is hard work, but it’s an ancient tradition passed down from Roman prostitutes—who are replaced in the future by wine bloggers. Then the skins are crushed, left unattended while the winemaker is serviced by the wine bloggers (a tradition handed down from today), and when fermentation is done, the resulting wine best expresses its site—it’s really brown and smells like cellar rat butt. And it’s got hardly any alcohol at all! Can’t wait! We don’t want to give all its secrets away, you’ll have to visit AuthenticLand for that, but also look in the “Winery of Tomorrow” for grapes harvested by mouth (“Hands off” is our motto!), wines aged in cactus (climate change will have made oak forests extinct), and corks that say “Shit!” when you put the corkscrew in.

FRONTIERWORLD!
FrontierWorld is all about nostalgia, about the long lost days of winemaking, when wine was intentionally, if wrongheadedly, made to taste good. Your and your family should spend a few minutes in “Great Moments with Mr. Mondavi.” A lifelike robot, think James Laube, that is a perfect rendition of Robert Mondavi talks about his love of fine wine, his love of Napa Valley, and his life dedicated to making wine part of everyday gracious living. It’s pathetic. We know now that the crap Mondavi spent his life promoting isn’t real wine, isn’t authentic wine, that it’s for indiscriminate suckers, and you leave feeling sorry for this California pioneering giant. What an idiot! Fun for the whole family. Spoiler alert! That’s a dummy of Fred Franzia in the background flippin’ ol’ Bob the bird! You and the kids will love FrontierWorld. Mom and Dad, don’t miss the old-fashioned tasting room where you can sample old favorites from the past like Mateus, Blue Nun, Mouton-Cadet, Green Hungarian, and Wente Brothers Blanc de Blancs! Then go back to The Linoleum Estate™ tasting room and, bingo, now the wines taste good!

There’s something for everyone at AuthenticLand. As we always say here at Splooge Estate and The Linoleum Project™, “If it’s taste you’re after, you’re in the wrong place.”


Monday, July 7, 2014

Call Me Jancis


Call me Jancis. Everyone does, even though it’s not my name. Well, it is when I’m conducting a wine seminar, or giving a speech at some God-forsaken outpost of weird wine that wants to pretend its wines are worthwhile, like the Jura. Many days I wake up and cannot recall my birth name. I think it’s Cameron, though it could be Mel. I’ve been Jancis for so long now, it doesn’t really matter. I look like her, I walk like her, I sound like her, I spit exactly like her—I was taught that the stream should most closely resemble that of the cherub’s as it urinates into a typical Italian fountain. So you may as well call me Jancis. I’ve been a Jancis double for the past ten years. I am Jancis, though she is not me.

For the rest of this surprising tale, leap on over to

TIM ATKIN, MW

Thursday, June 19, 2014

To Be or Not to Be


I’ve been struggling lately with whether I want to continue writing HoseMaster of Wine™. First of all, let me just say that this is not a plea to those of you who care to flatter me to chime in and tell me how brilliant I am, and how the wine world needs me. I’m not particularly good at accepting flattery. I do much better with vitriol. Rather, this is simply a peek behind my peculiar curtain, about how weary I am of this self-imposed gig, and also how I fear I’d miss it if I do quit. Those of you uninterested in this kind of navel-gazing, leave now. I’m sure there’s something really stupid to read over at PUNCH, the online drinks magazine for the dumbstruck.

I started writing HoseMaster to see how it would feel to write regularly again. I stumbled onto wine blogs, gazed upon their splendid mediocrity, and decided to jump in. So many wine blogs proclaim that wine is too pretentious a business, all the while adding layers to that pretentiousness with their own brand of solipsistic babbling. And in the seven years I’ve been at this, nothing has changed. Worst of all, HoseMaster hasn’t changed much either. Reading the “popular” wine blogs regularly is like eating the same damned food for lunch every single day. It’s depressing that you never get sick of it.

There are a lot of different motivations for writing a wine blog. For many, it has been a way into the business. The most successful of those bloggers have learned that self-promotion, social media skills, parroting disingenuous marketing stories, passing off Wikipedia entries as personal knowledge, and relentless buttkissing are a quicker way up the ladder than actual wine experience. These are the wine bloggers the trade adores. They are overwhelmed with wine samples and offers of free junkets. They’re the equivalent of the “reporters” for “Entertainment Tonight,” who pose as insiders, but really simply spew the copy handed them by actors’ press agents. It’s twaddle, it’s far more harmful than good for the wine business, but that’s what the Internet does best—give you the opportunity to lie about who you really are.

Then there are those wine bloggers who turn a one-sentence thought into an eight hundred word essay with a misleading blurb as a title. Most of these folks think of themselves as “journalists.” Because, hey, this is a journal, right? They climb the blog rankings with a talent for writing headlines, and nothing else. You click on the link because of the headline, you read the piece, and you think, “Fuck, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve read all day.” For them, you’re a stat, an endlessly stupid moth self-destructively flitting around their headline flame. Their contribution to the wine conversation is, “Me, Me, Me.” Though they think they’re really smart, and feel their contribution is, “Meme, Meme, Meme.”

There are aggregate blogs, the cheesy, overrated wine clubs of the genre. Why, every day our panel of experts sends you the finest dozen posts available at club prices! You’re free to cancel at any time, we’re just happy you’ve fallen for it for as long as you have! There are the sad little wine blogs started by people who just want to tell you about really good wines they’ve tasted. Oh, I know I’m not a wine expert, but I know what I like! And I think this has value. They’re like Poodle puppies leaving little puddles for you all over the house. Hard to hate them, but you wish they’d grow up.

All of them make me want to quit.

I’ve not been a popular guy with a lot of folks in the wine business. That doesn’t bother me in the least. I don’t see myself as a truth-teller, some kind of superhero dedicated to cleaning up all the hypocrisy and dishonesty I see. I write comedy. Where I succeed or fail is if I make you laugh—that’s my only criterion. I rarely choose my targets, my targets almost always choose themselves. The wine world is no different than the real world. It’s filled with buffoons, cowards, pretenders, blowhards, pinheads, idiots, stuffed shirts, sycophants, and assholes. I don’t use those words when I speak of them individually. I use satire, mockery, jokes, parody and ribaldry to make my points. I don’t have an agenda, except laughter. I’ve clearly screwed that up today.

I feel like I’ve run my course on HoseMaster of Wine™. I’m not out of ideas, far from it. But I may be out of motivation. Many days I fantasize about how nice it would be to never look at a wine blog again. Hell, I often fantasize about how nice it would be to never look at the Internet again. There’s a kind of peace in the very thought. No more wine blogs would be like moving to the country and discovering just how annoying and stressful all that fucking traffic noise was where you used to live—you were able to tune it out to a degree, but now that it’s gone you see how much it detracted from your life. I think about that. Which seems to imply that I’m ready to move away from the virtual world, all that incessant and meaningless noise, gain some peace and quiet.

I love wine, and I love the wine business. It’s why I write about them both. Out of love, not disdain. But maybe my passion for wine is better served in the privacy of my own thoughts. There’s nothing new to say about wine that hasn't been said more eloquently many times before. Wine outclasses us, and our feeble imaginations and vocabularies. I've tried to bring an interesting voice to the discussion, but it feels like that voice has worn thin. At least it feels that way to me. Oh, I’m still angry. I’m still angry about how we humans manage to trivialize, ruin and degrade just about everything precious in the world, wine being just one example. I’m angry that I’m a part of that myself. But comedy is about anger, its Creator is anger, it needs anger. But it can be tiring to channel all of that anger twice a week. I’m tired.

This isn’t a farewell piece. Or it might be. I don’t know. I’m wrestling with why I do this in the first place, and for what. For those of you who come here for the laughs and are still reading, my heartfelt apology. Every now and then I feel the need to be self-indulgent. From a career standpoint, wine has been my life. For too much of the past three years, HoseMaster has been my life. There’s the rub.