Monday, March 12, 2007

Midnight in the garden of good and badware

So, there you are, browsing through the bi-weekly LCBO Vintages circular, and you come upon an entry for Angrove's Vinyard Select Shiraz 2004. (It's even made it to the back cover.) There's a 5-stars-out-of-5 rave about the wine from Australia's Winestate Magazine. You want to check out just who these Winestate authorities are, and you Google the name. What you see is ominous. "This site may harm your computer". You click on it anyway. You get intimidated and look at a cached page instead---let Google do the dangerous legwork. Gee, it looks harmless to me. But do you take the leap and go there yourself...? Not this puppy. Do you wish Google was a bit more specific with their warnings? You bet.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Your Dinner With Conrad

As we all know, the clinically insane have so far invested enough in '05 Bordeaux futures to drive the price of the more prestigious wines out of the reach of all but the Conrad Black/David Radler set. So for the merely wealthy, who want to guzzle a bit of the action by placing themselves somewhere between the Moutons who produce and the muttons who buy, it's becoming fashionable to sniff out a Wine Investment Fund. Unfortunately, like a lot of other hedge funds, when you dig a little, a lot of WIF's smell pretty corked.

Take the International Wine Investment Fund---please. While their website paints a picture of a company where every day is like the 2000 Bordeaux harvest (a disclaimer that the site's authors can't actually vouch for the truth of their claims is a particularly nice feature) a look at the books shows a lot more red ink than red wine. (Further oxidizing details here.)

Independent journalism about WIF's can be hard to come by---a typical press-release-disguised-as-news can be found here---although at-home research can start as simply as a Google search. Still, it's a grim subject, and you're never really able to shake the feeling that arm's-length investing in classic wine amounts not only to a guarantee that you'll never drink it, but that you'll ultimately end up selling it to somebody you don't like.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The week's most shameless press release disguised as a magazine article

Nominations open with this enthusiastic bit of industry grandstanding, wherein The Wine Enthusiast breathlessly reports on two Tuscany producer's consortia's mutual backslapping and self-congratulation over the 2006 vintage; a harvest where both groups award themselves, you guessed it, five stars out of five.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wine-Magazine Braunnoser of the Week

Decanter Magazine recently named Anthony Barton of Chateau Leoville-Barton as their "Decanter Man of the Year". He joins a similarly-feted honor-roll of the wine establishment, which over the last 20 years has included: Marcel Guigal, Miguel Torres, Roderer Champagne's Jean Claude Rauzad, Jancis Robinson, Hugh Johnson, Georg Riedel, Dr. Ernst Losen, Michael Broadbent, Chateau Lynch-Bages' Jean Michel Cazes, Alexis Lachine, and Robert Mondavi. (Robert Parker must be either incredibly pissed off, or congratulating himself for being left uninvited to such a blue-blooded party.)

It's a list that's noteworthy more for the prestige of its members than their relative merit---after all, awards traditionally confer honorary membership into a more exalted society for public service that risks going otherwise unrecognized. You don't hand out medals to the aristocracy unless you're trying to suck up to them.

The whole operation thus has the whiff of a blogger posting a link to a more prestigious site, or an on-line magazine like Salon handing out medals to Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs. What you're smelling is the courtier flattering his royal family in the knowledge that it's probably the only access they're going to allow him.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ripped from the latest headlines...

Not only that, two out of three fake their orgasms as well A survey published by the U.K.'s Life Style Press declares that while 2 men in 3 feel they don't know enough about wine, 27 percent of men claim more knowledge of wine than they actually have, and 35% of men refuse to let their date order wine in a restaurant.

On sale next week, the Dick Cheney collection A bottle of wine from a series commissioned by Adolf Hitler as gifts to his senior officers was sold at a U.K. auction this week for close to $8000 US.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Eric Asimov Drinking Game

Thoughtful, Bull Max-toting teens looking to get plastered need look no further than Eric Asimov's latest breathless adventure in Enolo-Porn: Whenever luncheon-host and mega wine-collector Park B. Smith opens a new immortal bottle from his collection of 65,000, take a drink.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Phrenomes

Good Grape puts The Wine Spectator's James Laube through a tichloroanisole lab-test and finds high levels of hubris.