Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Christmas---The Year in Alcohol

Next month, David Lee Roth on the Super-Tuscans In The Wine Spectator, Ex-Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar the Horrible reveals an unexpected fondness for classic Bordeaux; together with praise for the guys he considers the greatest noses in rock-and-roll: Boston's Fran Sheehan, and The Year of the Cat's Al Stewart

I asked her if she was game---she said yes, so I shot her
Organizers of the 75th Minneapolis Northwest Sports Show announced the innaguration of a "Women, Wine and Wild Game" day

That'll be $49.99 for your bottle of Yellow Tail It's official: the worst drought in living memory has cut Australia's grape harvest by 30%. Grape pickers have been referred to by commentators as 'search parties'.

But would you want to have a beer with him? An informal poll of French winemakers revealed a preference for right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy over the socialist Segolene Royal in the upcoming French Presidential election. Sarkozy has hinted that he might roll back the Evan Law, which bans most forms of advertising for alcoholic beverages in France. (A teatotaler, Sarkozy has also hinted at changes to France's 35 hour work week.)

Bring on the Asian Billionaires Part II On the heels of the third or fourth ‘vintage of the century’ in the last 50 years, and with prices largely beyond the reach of the mass market, top-rank Bordeaux growers are in a bind: how to keep prices up with a 2006 crop universally derided as a lousy investment? A hint at the answer is provided by Gary Boom of Bordeax Index. Describing the first growths as “completely overpriced”, Boom forecasts that the 2006’s “won't sell well and will be a bad investment” but might also prove to be “a classic vintage for new buyers – especially in the Far East – who want to secure allocations in future.” Translation: We’ll sell inferior, overpriced wine to the suckers of the nouveau riche, with the promise that this will give them entry into the club in time for the next vintage that’s really worth buying.

French Terrorists we can understand, part II As reported last month, France's Comite d'Action Regionale Viticole bombed grocery stores as an unorthodox method of forcing the national government to support prices in the flagging Languedoc wine industry. With the election of the tea-totaling but apparently wine-friendly president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy, the group has stepped up its rhetoric. In a tape sent to local television, balaclava-clad gunmen whipped up support for their industry: "Winemakers, we call on you to revolt. We are at the point of no return: If Sarkozy does not have the sense to support the wine sector, he will be responsible for what happens."

But they gave Jancis Robinson the pull-down baby-changing station in the business-class washroom US Airways will be laminating Business Week articles by Robert Parker into their pull-down tray-tables on their economy-class seats. According to BW Publisher Geoff Dodge, "This unique partnership affords Business Week a great opportunity to place our content in front of a captive audience of potential users."

I guess it helps her get through a day with Jamie Burke
Actress and philosopher Sienna Miller recently stopped presses around the globe by claiming that the most meaningful relationship she has is with wine.

On the other hand, France now makes the better action movies
According to a new report, the United States is on the verge of replacing France as the world's largest wine consumer. America remains only the fourth largest producer, after France, Italy and Spain.

Don’t drink and proselytize A survey published by the evangelical Christian firm Lifeway Research claimed that while the majority of lay Protestants believe consuming alcohol to be biblically sanctioned, three quarters of senior Southern Baptist pastors surveyed believed that drinking made evangelism less effective. (90% of Protestant clergy surveyed believed that “a Christian drinking alcohol could cause other believers to stumble or be confused.”)

Extra! New drug for alcoholic rats! An anti-smoking drug, varenicline, has been suggested effective in combating alcoholism. But “...no research on the drug as a treatment for alcoholism has been done yet on humans. But one study on rats shows varenicline cuts desire for alcohol by 50 percent. The rats do not exhibit excessive drinking even after they are no longer given the drug.”

Start with high-calorie beer. Please.
Actress-tycoons Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are now old enough to legally drink in all 50 states.

Jeez, Brit, Rockstar comes with the alcohol already in it Songstress and mother-of-the-year finalist Britney Spears has been spotted recently pouring liquor into her energy drinks while out in public

Extra! Pot smokers drink lousy beer as well
A study published by the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) claimed either that people who abuse malt liquor also tend to abuse pot; or that people who abuse pot tend towards cheap malt liquor as their beverage of choice (coverage is unclear).

Maybe if they'd just called it "Ol' Yeller"
Disney Studios backed out of a product tie-in with Costco for their new animated film Ratatouille: Ratatouille Chardonnay.

Drink up the cider, George Singer, poet, and the best friend a bottle of Guinness ever had, Tommy Makem died of lung cancer this week at age 74

Depends on what you mean by 'occasion' A new study released by the US Centers for Disease Control shows that two-thirds of adult binge drinkers prefer to go on their benders with beer. On the other hand, teenage binge drinkers prefer hard liquor. The study defined 'binge' as five or more drinks on one occasion.

Put down the Brunello with its gobs of soft fruit on the nose and sweet tannins on the attack, and step away from the table with your hands up According to Decanter Magazine, Twenty-five members of the Italian military police have qualified as sommeliers in order to combat fraud in the industry.

Living in the same province as Gordon Campbell will do that to you A study published by Toronto's Center for Addiction and Mental Health found alcohol abuse in British Columbia to be almost 20% above the national average and 50% above the level observed in Quebec.

But we're allowing alcohol at the shark-wrestling tank Authorities have forbidden the organizers of an Irish St Patrick's Day skydiving event from selling liquor

Meanwhile, for hangover sufferers, science shows that the cure really is worse than disease
The journal Chemical Research in Toxicology published a study linking the combination of Red Bull (or other heavily-caffeinated energy drinks) and Tylenol to liver damage

But Bullwinkle, that trick never works
Lindsay Lohan emerged this week from two months in rehab. It was her third crack at alcohol treatment this year

So that’s what killed him England’s Prince Harry, soon to be publicly immortalized in marble as a dead soldier in a tribute to servicemen not allowed to participate in the gulf war, was photographed this week snorting vodka

You want that bottle in paper or plastic, you drunken scumbag BC Liquor Stores announced a campaign to encourage alcohol consumption in moderation by making “those who abuse alcohol feel rejected/marginalized.”

No, I’m stupid like Mickey Rourke, Robert Downy Jr. and Courtney Love In an interview with FHM Magazine, failed television host, notorious party animal and Paris Hilton satellite Tara Reid distanced herself from celebrity last-days- of-Pompeii culture by claiming not to be as “stupid” as Hilton, Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan

But that's pretty much average for a night out in Cardif Journalists came upon the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby coach passed out in a washroom before the World Cup quarter-finals in Cardif, Wales. In related news, Australian Rugby Union chair Peter McGrath was forced to resign his position when "one of Australian rugby's major sponsor complained in writing that McGrath was so affected by alcohol he could hardly speak at a function on the eve of Australia's quarter-final defeat by England in Marseille, France"

Good thing Parker didn't call him a New Zealander Documentary filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter (2004's Mondovino) has released his first book, Le Gout et le Pouvoir (roughly, "Taste and Power"). Not unexpectedly, Robert Parker has thrown a fit, calling Nossiter a "narrow-minded zealot" a bigot, and a member of the "scary wine Gestapo". (This may be no more than simple tit-for-tat; two years ago Nossiter accused Parker's partner Pierre-Antoine Rovani of being "a Mussolini apologist, indirectly fascist and anti-semitic, 'monolithic and unscrupulously self-serving.' ")

She was really trying to draw attention to coke-snorting Bengal Tigers A story claiming that Paris Hilton was taking up the case of binge-drinking elephants in India ("The elephants get drunk all the time. It is becoming really dangerous. We need to stop making alcohol available to them. There would have been more casualties if the villagers hadn't chased them away. And four elephants died in a similar way three years ago. It is just so sad....") later proved to be false.

The story that he raped a stable-girl in celebration was later dismissed as a mistranslation French actor and noteworthy pounder Gerard Depardieu was named this year's "Pope" of Bordeaux's Chateau Pape Clement

It was around about then that a bottomless pit opened up and an evil host led by Abaddon the King of the Abyss came forth A major British supermarket chain reported that in the lead-up to Christmas, English wine was outselling wines from Bordeaux, California, Portugal, Alsace and Germany

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Week in Alcohol

In a related study, they were unable to see any significant difference between Steven Harper and Dick Cheney The University of Victoria's Center for Addictions Research published a study which found that a group of university-aged males couldn't tell the difference between regular-strength and low-alcohol beer

Well, when you're pissed, you can't tell whether the glass is half full or half empty The Australian Wine and Brandy corporation released figures which were interpreted in the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian as saying that "wine exports grew 8% on pricey reds", while its competitor The Age interpreted the data as saying that "wine export growth slows again."

It was around about then that a bottomless pit opened up and an evil host led by Abaddon the King of the Abyss came forth A major British supermarket chain reported that in the lead-up to Christmas, English wine was outselling wines from Bordeaux, California, Portugal, Alsace and Germany

The John Belushi Blues Brothers Speedball was an especially hot seller
Former funny man Dan Aykroyd spent the week barnstorming Atlantic Canada promoting the Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series of wines

The "I will kill you" to the police officer was interpreted as simple high spirits
24 star Kieffer Sutherland began serving his 48 day prison sentence for driving while intoxicated

Monday, December 10, 2007

RSVP Tasting: Six Wines in Search of a Character

Wine Marley Farms Novine White
From Saanich, BC
Price $14.95
Alcohol Content 10.4%
An Ortega – Pinot Grigio blend from a producer best known for non-grape fruit wines. A big Ortega nose gets everybody’s attention; what follows on the palate gets pleased murmurs from all around the table and a smile from Fearless Leader: “Crisp, clean, fresh, and there’s even some weight to it. This is very pleasant.” “Lychees” observes a guest taster, and the silence that greets him is taken to imply consent.

Wine Golden Beaver Gewurztraminer 2006
From Okanagan, BC
Price $19.00 (MSL)
Alcohol Content 13.5%
A case where you first have to digest the label (see above) before you get to the taste of the wine: According to the agent who represents their wines, these are nice people trying to do serious wines in modest amounts (and who also seem to be trying just about everything on their 8 acres) but they’ve chosen an image so at odds with their purpose that it’s tough to get past it to what’s in your glass: in this case, a big nose, good Gewurz sweetness on the palate, followed by a twiggy/stemmy/seedy aftertaste that’s made more emphatic by hot alcohol. “Young vines,” our host reminds us. "Compassion is a virtue" replies the Philosophical Taster, quoting early David Byrne, "but I just don't have the time."

Wine Lotusland Enigma
From Abbotsford BC
Price $21.99 (MSL)
Memory does not preserve the group’s thoughts on the Lotusland Pinot Noir that preceded this, except that for everyone, this Pinot Meunier-Gamay combination represented a step in the right direction---up. There is a big, sharp, fruity nose which renders the winemakers purpose transparent----this is a way-station between Beaujolais-Gamay and Pinot Noir: more substantial than the former; more fun than the latter; with the stakes lower in each direction. Cunning stuff, which everybody finds simple and pleasant.

Wine Lotusland Zweigelt 2003
From Abbotsford, BC
Price $32.90 (MSL)
Alcohol Content 12.6%
Nothing is by the book with this Austrian hybrid---a grape in search of a better name---and nobody has any idea what it’s really supposed to taste like; happily, everybody thinks it a larger version of the Enigma, above. “Bigger, rounder, fleshier---I like this!” are the Boss’s words. “How much does it cost…?” A strangled cry when he finds out. Very pleasant, but in this price range you’re going to get much more than just pleasant elsewhere.

Wine Tinhorn Creek Cabernet-Merlot 2005
From Okanagan, BC
Price $16.99 (MSL)
Alcohol Content 14.1%
Tinhorn is a big brand and thus easy to take swipes at. The comments come thick and fast: “Very weedy.” “Like green peppers.” “I taste mint.” From the Boss: “Refreshing. Very nice… on the rocks.” Light on the palate and not at all unpleasant, there are a lot of indistinct proto-flavors, and a feeling you can’t shake (especially when you’ve just gone through a dozen other wines) that there’s something not quite right; that things are happening on the palate in the wrong order. It feels tannic, but the tannin’s not at the right place in the profile. Maybe it needs some age? The Boss shakes his head: “There’s a lot of winemaker intervention in this; these guys are notorious for stripping everything out and then building their wines up again from scratch. So this is as good as it’s going to taste; there’s no benefit to aging it; this is always going to be a reliable, picnic-chicken red and no more.” At that point, everybody notices the price, counts their blessings, and shuts up.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Week in Alcohol

That's nothing--- Marilyn Manson once bought Dita von Teese a distillery in Bryantsville, Kentucky Actor Johnny Depp bought his girlfriend a vineyard in Plan de la Tour, near the French resort town of St. Tropez

The story that he raped a stable-girl in celebration was later dismissed as a mistranslation French actor and noteworthy pounder Gerard Depardieu was named this year's "Pope" of Bordeaux's Chateau Pape Clement

But for only $149.- they'll give you the phone number of the police The extremely moneyed American wine collector Russell H. Frye (a business associate of fellow high-end collector Bill Koch, who was burned in the Hardy Rodenstock phony 'Thomas Jefferson bottle' scandal) has started a website that holds out the promise of authenticating the lineage of those dubious bottles you and I sometimes purchase at auction. Wineauthentication.com is not cheap---membership costs for serious users run from $499.- to the thousands for commercial customers. And while a business plan is being worked out, there is of yet no word on how the system will work, or who will attempt to do the on-line authenticating.