When Paul Ryan paid $350 dollar bottle of this wine and some rabid woman thought it was her duty to play cop and I wanted to bop the agitator, (an associate business professor at Rutgers, named Feinberg--who on this links explains herself, though I don't think she added anything to the conversation.) over the head with a bottle of Screaming Eagle.
" Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a leading advocate of shrinking entitlement spending and the architect of the plan to privatize Medicare, spent Wednesday evening sipping $350 wine with two like-minded conservative economists at the swanky Capitol Hill eatery Bistro Bis."
The story gets bizarre.
The clash became especially heated when Feinberg asked the men if they were lobbyists.
“F—- her,” one of them replied and stood up in a menacing way, according to Feinberg’s account. Feinberg said her husband then “puffed out his chest” in response before the manager and a waiter came over and Feinberg decided she had said her piece and it was time to leave."
I think she somehow missed Wine 101 and erroneously believed that all wine is Two-Buck Chuck at different price points. Also, she missed that the choice $350 and not $3500, a more common clam point for bailed out Morgan Stanley employees.
$350 is more than I can usually deal with. Jayer-Giles is not my speed, but Ryan must make about fifty times what I do. To me, the idea of getting in between someone and his Burgundy that he can afford is not an arguable position. All relative. In the end, the wine retails for about $190, it wasn't even overpriced.
The comparison Foxites want to invoke is to the famed Edward's $400 haircut. Apples and nuts analogy; one about bells and whistles (cushy treatment in the chair) and perhaps overpriced vanity (such as the intial vinyl impregnated merchandise from LV), the other is about rarity, work, exploration, cultural and aesthetic.
Soil matters. All vineyards really are not created equal. And if you can afford it, why the hell not. Especially as the politician was there with two economists, not lobbyists, and all were splitting the bill.
So there they were, three people with two bottles of wine and a $700 wine bill. Big deal. If the government wasn't paying for it, or if there was a specific reason for shmoozing with the bottles, again, I fail to see the crime. The only crime was that from my point of view there were better choices on the list, and he could have done better, and cheaper.
I went to look at the list. As it turns out, it's not bad. If the gents were interested in good choices at better prices, they could have asked me, but what can I say; Ryan didn't call me for advice.
Outside of an eh-champagne selection, and a strange devotion to V. Giradin, there were wines at decent price points, and some were even palatable. Being Parker territory there was quite a bit of Chateauneuf, but some surprising choices like the Domaine Pierre André 2001, Châteauneuf-du-Pape $112 (delicious!). The 2001 and 2004 Clapes on the list for $165 and $195 were more greaet choices. And if I was there on my own budget I might have risked the 2005 Descombes Morgon for $36 (but I do remember quite a lot of brett.).
What the rabid woman failed to understand is that the table wanted Burgundy. Their choice seemed to indicate that the table wasn’t focused on price but on taste. They were dodging the sloppy 2003 and the stubborn 2005 vintages. The Claude Dugat 1er Cru, Lavaux St. Jacques 2004 Gevrey-Chambertin for $215, would have worked for them, and they could have saved a cool $145, but maybe they just wanted a GC.
In the end, the woman's behavior to me was far more interesting than the politicians, and the question I have, what I want to know is what was Feinberg drinking on that night at Bistro Bis to celebrate her birthday.
There were ghosts for me in Austria and I know it's mostly me, and not them. The people couldn't have been sweeter. The food in the summer, immediate and tender. People like Christine Saahs and the new generation of searchers, and the way out of technical winemaking is emerging a new reach for wine truth. Things are going on over there. There is a rebellion against Biodynamics by those who want to find their own way. The group is called Respect, and it's a thorn in Demeter's side. What strikes me is that there are no parameters for inside of the winery, but there is a strong Steiner theme throughout the guidelines.
Very interesting to me, was that the hard core winemakers they didn't want to talk of grape but of soil, a very specific take on terroir, and one that I find myself going towards. I like to know the grape but the place is more compelling. The way the grape expresses itself, well, yes, that is the key. Not that a Sauvignon should taste of cut grass and pee, but how it is just a vehicle. This I got a plenty in Styria, especially.
But I'd be lying to you if, when I was in the rural, Jurassic-like Styria, a stone's throw from the Slovenia woods, that I didn't see ghosts of men, women, children running for their lives. Every time someone used the word pure, even in regards to wine, I flinched. It wasn't them, it was me. It was being second generation. It was having family who never made it out. It was writing a relatives memoir of survivial, it was just this marrow deep Jewish paranoia of who would hide me.
In Styria, I could sense that there were folk there that did their best to hide Jews and otherwise hunted. Yes, I felt that too. I could be romantic and say I tasted that hope and love in the wines as well, but even for me, that would be a reach.
But when I wasn't looking for the ghosts in rabbit warren-like apartments (who lived here when?) or clamping my tongue, holding it so I didn't ask, people down near the Hungarian border, where there ever any Jewish vineyard owners? Where there ever any Jewish winemakers? There had to have been, but did their history completely vanish, and then I look to the woods, and I look down at the soil. And I wonder. But time will change this. My Feiring line stops with me. But the children of others, they'll be freer.
However there is a new day in Austria, many whom I profiled in Austria 1-7, and when I put my ghosts aside, I see very real, flesh and blood fabulous people and am warmed by them. Some of them were waiting for me in a building on top of Martin Pasler's vines.
After I rode in traffic up from Meinklang to Leithaberg, a strip of land, within spitting distance of Neudsiedler See, and a terroir that the winemakers are believing in. "Is this flat?" Markus Altenburger asked me, as he and a few other winemakers bounced me around in a truck through the vineyards where I almost heaved ho, out the window. Not because of the height but because of sea sickness.
Well, no. Not flat at all, it is on the rise up of this once seabed.
That the soil is chock ful of the good stuff is evident. Of more interest to me is that this group of winemakers are intent on creating strict rules around their winemaking, which far surpasses any other in town, such as Codex Wachau, (charter of pure wine) which for some reason when they say no additives or aromatisation, forget that enzymes and yeasts and bacteria all are additives. For Leithaberg, they say these are off limits. Take a look at their press kit if you'd like. It's fairly interesting and as Sylvie Prieler said, the meetings were impossible. But here are a group of winemakers in love with an area, and reaching for a new paradign. Worth checking out. Leithaberg
Favorite wines for me from the tasting, were 2008 Blaufrankisch from Weinguts Braunstein, Prieler, Altenburger, and Nittnaus. In all, when you see Leithaberg, it is worth checking out.
I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.
And, if you'd like a signed copy, feel free to contact me directly.