The current issue of the Wine Spectator seems like just the thing to pack off with college-bound kids as a food primer, or into the lunchbox of your favorite baby stock broker who needs a remedial food tutorial. The cover photo of an odd assorment of food looks like an advertisement for the USDA and the writing between the covers reads like the accompanying pamphlet. A photo stylist and an art director might be a good Shanken investment.
So, have I been spending too much time indoors this summer writing? While I've been gone, has taste gone out of style? Has style gone out of taste? At least that is the question while reading a very compelling story inside that same issue of the Spectator, “Screaming Eagle’s New Owners Aim High.“
Not only did the wine's new owner, Charles Banks push the price tag to a $500, making SE the most expensive American wine upon release, but he “Plans to make improvements to California’s most famous cult cabernet property.” Banks was also quoted as saying; he, “wants to improve the intensity not the alcohol.”
For the palate raised on soda pop, Red Bull, Snicker Doodles, or even energy bars, anything worth doing seems worth overdoing. Screaming Eagle firmly established winemaker Heidi Barrett as a superstar. While I doubt she made a wine with a score in mind, the wine has become a status bottle for those who buy by the scores. Even as a kid I stayed away from status labels. Scores or LV initials are just not my kind of thing. But is a perfect score in every vintage really more important than a 98? (Where is that URL from the Sunday Biz story in the Times last week?) And what would that mean as far as the wine's drinkability? He wants to prove that the greatest wines from Screaming Eagle have yet to be made. To hear him talk is to understand the New World Notion that wine is the product of grape yield and technology. I'm sure it's all quite heartfelt, though perhaps misguided.
Poor Banks. I want to take him by the hand, sit him down and show him a wine that will make him grin instead of giving him an ego-driven, hard on. Not that there's anything wrong with an erection, it's the ego-driven part that I question.
I was searching for the original Drakes Devil Dogs recipe, or at least the recipe from the late 60’s. In the futile research I came across a tirade of emails to Drakes now parent company Hostess. Customers wrote, "Bring back the Devil Dogs we loved." I’ve never had Screaming Eagle but I think the new owner could learn a thing or two from a Devil Dog.
On the other hand, I’m almost bored with wine these days. It could be the humidity. The one light of my wine week was the Cazin 2002 Cour-Cheverny, 100% delicious Romorantin grape, searing acidity, lemon drop loveliness. $13.
Made me happy.