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Monday Manifestos
Ban The Bomb and Other Worthy Ideas

By Charles Olken

Some French grape growers in that country’s southern regions blew up a political office last week, and it got me to thinking. Aside from telling those loonies to make wine, not war, what other things in this world would I like to ban besides French (and all other) bombers. After much thought, here is a short list of things vinous that the world could well do without.

--Wine interests who know all the answers. I am tired of hearing about biodynamic, organic, natural, certified wines that are portrayed by their makers and a few silly writers as the only real path to greatness in wine. Frankly, the only real path to greatness is found in the glass, not in the process.

--Cult wines and cult winemakers. I don’t know which is worse, and with all due consideration of that conundrum, I offer the idea that we ban them both. The worship of cult wines is simply nuts because it exults a winery rather than a wine. I don’t care if we are talking Petrus or Screaming Eagle, DRC or ABC, the wines they make vary by vintage and they are not all brilliant. By the same token, as capable as Michel Rolland or Andy Erickson or Ernst Loosen or Aubert du Villaine may be, their wines are not all created equal and equally brilliant. So ban them all. Taste the wines blind and then decide who to chase after for that vintage.

--Ersatz wine competitions. It used to be that there were a few Fairs and tastings and whether one liked the Los Angeles County Fair or the California State Fair judgings, at least there were just a few of them. Then came the push for more and more “Fairs”, mostly to publicize the wines of a given area. I have judged at more than a few of them and, while I won’t say that they were always producers of good results, at least they served their local purpose. Now, we have a new phenomenon. It is the “made-up” event created not to publicize anything, but rather to enrich the entrepreneur who dreamt them up. They have high entry fees and other than an occasional press release that few people read, they do little to publicize their results anywhere. Ban them, I say.

--Writers who cannot talk about wine without bashing all that has come before and proclaiming whatever it is they are tasting this week to be the “next big thing”. Folks, there is a reason why Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are so widely admired by the wine-drinking public. It is because they taste good. So, the next time that someone tells you that Trousseau Gris or Assyrtiko is the next big thing, please respond by saying out loud, “Ban the bomb and you too”.

--Rosé. Sorry, just kidding.

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