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The movie “Sideways” is widely credited for creating the pinot noir boom. Today, pinot noir surpasses cabernet sauvignon production in America and the 2004 comedy is largely responsible. In the witty dialogue between the movie’s protagonists, two best friends, Miles and Jack, who embark on a week-long road trip through California wine country, the ultimate praise is bestowed on pinot noir, lauding it as the “holy grail” of wine. Ever since wine drinkers have never looked back and have been exponentially racking up bottles of pinot noir.
But this was supposed to be a blog post about chardonnay.
The witty dialogue is witty…well, because it is sprinkled with memorable barbs at other varietals. This was great for the dialogue but it was bad for merlot bearing the brunt of the trash talk. Merlot quote paraphrased from a scene in the movie: “No [effing] merlot for me. I’m leaving if anyone orders merlot.” (I would have Googled for the quote verbatim but this preface to my point as mentioned is over long for a blog post about chardonnay.)
Fortunately for merlot producers chardonnay was also a target for trash talk. When the protagonist, Miles visits a tasting room and encounters chardonnay he expresses that he hates the varietal because it is too popular and lacks any complexity. He goes on to say that most chardonnays are overly oaked, too buttery and taste the same.
It would be helpful to highlight how at the time of the movie’s release in 2004 wine snobbery was extremely prevalent. Preaching wine for the masses, Gary Vaynerchuk, did not tape his first YouTube wine tasting until 2006. Wine culture was stuffy. Affordable wine was available, ie wine under ten bucks. Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel was everywhere but if you wanted to read or talk about wine the culture was dominated by know-it-all somm’s who raised their noses at varietals popular among the masses like merlot and chardonnay. They were interested in Chenin Blanc or Bordeaux wines.
The movie was the equivalent of a tactical nuke landing on the arrogant wine world and its sommelier gatekeepers (not all somm’s are assholes, watch this interview from our Youtube show to meet one who isn’t). Guys like Gary Vaynerchuk started to appear and talk about wine like you would talk about football. Gary was notorious for saying this or that wine sucks and even using words like “poo” to describe the taste of minerality in wine. Washington State winemaker Charles Smith, a guest on Gary’s show, also started to lob bombs at the hubris of wine culture with an overall unconventional approach to making and selling wine.
So the attacks on merlot and chardonnay in the movie “Sideways” were not death knells on the varietals but engendered the beginning of the end of pretentiousness in wine culture. You may now raise your glasses of Rombauer chardonnay and Corvidae Rook merlot with pride.
To invoke Fifty Cent in his classic Many Men, “Like Paulie in Goodfellas, You Can Call [Antinori] The Don.” Antinori being Piero Antinori, the patriarchal leader of Marchesi Antinori, the Italian wine company. The famous rap bar applied prior to Piero Antinori acquiring Chateau St. Michelle’s majority stake in the Napa Valley icon, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, earlier this month. If being a Don means that you are Italian and run shit like storied Napa Valley wineries. If that’s the case Piero Antinori says piece of cake in his deep Darth Vader like voice (literally, listen to any interview) while piloting his own burgundy-colored (coincidence?) helicopter and overlooking his many wineries.
The wine clubs that we are interested in are not speakeasy spots like the cover image. The ones that we are concerned with are the wine clubs that date back to the 1950s and 1960s in Europe. In the iconic wine countries like France, Italy and Germany, wine clubs were initially formed by groups of friends who loved wine and met up regularly to taste and talk wine. Something like: “Hey, Francois, Francesca and Franz come over on Friday night and let’s taste that new Rioja.”
As resellers of wine for some time now, we have received frantic emails from customers in the middle of night making sure that the wine they ordered is of a particular vintage. We welcome these inquiries because we want you to get exactly what you want. However, vintages usually do not matter and the answer to this just like the answer to ninety nine questions out of a hundred is money.
Okay, it was going to get really interesting if the Medici’s of Emilia who ignored lingering clamoring for sweeter Lambrusco and reclaimed Lambrusco from root beer drinkers were related to the same Medici’s from Florence who produced two popes. But there is no relation between the families despite sharing the same surnames. Nonetheless, Medici Ermete Concerto Lambrusco is the perfect wine to enjoy in Florida’s steamy summers that call for light bodied reds. (Yes, we understand that steamy summers are not only specific to Florida but we just got back from Orlando.)
Historically, wine possesses complexity and acidity for balance. The underlying problem with sweet wine is that it’s sweet–lacking in balance.
Unoaked Chardonnay was a reaction to “Anything But Chardonnay” prejudice. It now is among the most popular styles of the most popular white wine varietal in America–Chardonnay. The end (of “Anything But Chardonnay”).
The movie “Sideways” is widely credited for creating the pinot noir boom. Today, pinot noir surpasses cabernet sauvignon production in America and the 2004 comedy is largely responsible. In the witty dialogue between the movie’s protagonists, two best friends, Miles and Jack, who embark on a week-long road trip through California wine country, bestow the ultimate praise on pinot noir, lauding it as the “holy grail” of wine. Ever since wine drinkers have never looked back and have been exponentially racking up bottles of pinot noir.
But this was supposed to be a blog post about chardonnay.
Before you buy your next bottle of a one-of-a-kind Bordeaux or Burgundian it would behoove you to watch the fascinating documentary, “Sour Grapes,” that sheds klieg lights on the dark world of fake wine.