Tourist With a Typewriter

Oh, Uncle Adrian, I’m in the reservation of my mind.

Tag: Wine

Fear and Viognier

Gonzo Wine Tasting on the Monticello Trail

A version of this was originally published in the Virginia Wine Gazette circa 2007.

To answer your questions: 1. Yes, this is a true story. 2. Yes, I wrote it quickly and while drinking. 3. Yes, it is an homage to the work of James Fenimore Cooper. 

I was somewhere around Crozet on the edge of the parkway when the Viognier began to take hold. The assignment had been simple enough: pick a varietal, sample it at a few local tasting rooms, and write about it. But somehow, in my twisted mind, it became something far stranger and more dangerous. It became a challenge: I had decided to taste every Viognier on the Monticello Wine Trail in one day.

Of course it’s not possible. To paraphrase the movie Cool Hand Luke, nobody can taste 25 Viogniers. But I had to try, I had to experience the tasting room as it really was, if I was going find what I was looking for. But what was I looking for?

The heart of Grapeness, Das Drink an sich, the Virginia Wine Dream. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine in the Time of Poverty

How Patricia Kluge’s vineyard reached beyond its means

Published in C-VILLE, 5/24/2011.

In Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, one character asks another how he went bankrupt. “Gradually,” he says, “then suddenly.”

Patricia Kluge and her second husband, one-time richest-person-in-America, John Kluge.

In 2002, the Kluge Estate New World Red entered the world in an ebony trimmed wooden box designed by David Albert Charles Armstrong-Jones, a.k.a. Viscount Linley, son of Princess Margaret, nephew of the Queen and 14th in line for the British throne. There were only 289 of these beauties made, signed by the winemaker, naturally, but also by the winery owner, who saw fit to slap an embossed profile of her swollen head on every bottle. She also slapped a $495 price tag on the wine, by far the highest price we’re ever likely to see on a wine from Virginia.

Eight years later Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyard would be moribund, ending not with a bang, but with a fire sale. The New World Red, having long ago lost its royal trappings, would end its life being sold for $10.96 at a Downtown wine shop. Instead of being displayed in a custom case, customers were carrying it off by the caseload.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Anatomy Of A Mouthful

An account of a wine tasting at Keswick Hall on 12/5/2005. This was my first assignment  and the first piece of journalism I had published. Published in the Virginia Wine Gazette.

It is very quiet in the boardroom at Keswick hall. No one has expressly told us to be quiet, but no one seems to want to break this unspoken rule by speaking above a whisper. It is also quiet outside. Behind me the gardens are slowly being covered with snow. The room has a draft and the slight chill in the air adds to the businesslike feeling that pervades. I want to watch the snow fall on the Keswick estates, I want to stand by the fireplace and have a drink, I want to talk to the people sitting around the table with me, but I can’t. I have serious work to do. I have to taste and evaluate 40 different wines from Virginia and New York. The future of wine making on the East Coast sits in my mouth. I turn and spit into a silver bucket. Read the rest of this entry »

Flirting With Anachronism

Whether or not a wine festival is the proper place to deal with a hangover is a good question, but not one I want to think about now, not while I’m hung over and tasting wine at the Montpelier Wine Festival. Read the rest of this entry »

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