A couple of months back coworker Ronnie and I were asked to attend a big trade tasting being put on my distribution giants Southern Wine & Spirits, a tasting laughingly called, “Best of the Best” but truthfully should be called, “The Best of the Crap Bulk Wines We’ve Got” so as I’m sure you can imagine, I was really looking forward to it. The truth is I, as in my departments, do almost no business with this particular company, not a political statement of any sort, just find the majority of the wines they have mediocre…at best and that is not what The Wine Country has ever been interested in dealing with. Let the chains and restaurants deal with that crap and we’ll just keep stocking our lesser-known but often far more thrilling wines and everyone wins. That being said my boss Randy wanted us to go and as someone that often tells people, “Unless you’ve tasted recently you really don’t know shit” I figured I had better practice what I preach, so went we did. Sigh…..
The second Ronnie and I entered the massive banquet room spilling over with stuffed shirts, shiny suits and spray tans my jaw got tight. A huge room that smelled like hotel Prime Rib mixed with about 25 different perfumes and colognes….perfect. I took a deep breath, slipped my backpack over my shoulders, grabbed a glass and looked at Ronnie, “So, what do you want to taste?” a shrug of his shoulders in response and we began our loop around the joint. Ferrari-Carano, Ruffino, Cavit (Best of the Best?! Okay) Jordan, my glass still empty and after nearly being knocked over by a Asian kid, 23 if he was a day, yelling “Winner winner chicken dinner!” and shoving me aside to get at the Caymus table I was once again looking at Ronnie, this time nearly pained look on my face, scrunched as all get out, “There is literally nothing here I want to taste let alone drink”. Dreadful show of wickedly boring “juice”. I finally saw the Champagne table, one of the most crowded of course, but thought it was time to revisit some big house Champagnes and see what if anything I had been missing. Yeah….
This was Ronnie’s first time tasting through so many of those wines. He was not a lover of Champagne when he came on board at The Wine Country, matter of fact I believe the direct quote was, “Champagne is fine, I just don’t prefer it” which after a few tastings and nights with open bottles of grower stuff, he is now a full blown Champagne “prefer-er” and in some ways is even snobbier than I.
We stood there, glasses extended, squished between the sequined and heavily sprayed taking mouthfuls of utterly boring, if not down-right bad Champagne, Ronnie finally opening his mouth to say, “How can people drink this stuff?” exactly. Tasted the range from some of the most prized and famed estates; Clicquot, Moet and even Ruinart, even the high-end stuff, each and every single wine was insipid, absolutely uninspiring and honestly, not even swallow worthy. Fuck, no wonder people don’t drink more Champagne. This is the stuff being touted as “The Best”?! I can tell you, as a fiercely impassioned Champagne lover, if those wines were all that there was….I’d give up Champagne for good. Truly awful. Where is that rich, powerful and fully flavored wine that Clicquot used to be? Ruinart was a gem of a heady, doughy and monster style bubbly, now both are awkward, thin as shit, weirdly metallic and gassy in that ever appealing burpy way, dead sexy and luxurious that. That Grande Dame is now a shriveled old shrew and I’m calling her old ass out, “Your new clothes are showing all your business and um, damn, kinda gross”.
The one that didn’t surprise me in the least, Moet & Chandon. Those gas inducing wines have been crap for as long as I’ve been drinking Champagne. Crap and something Americans might not know, they have been fucking with you for decades. White Star, fucking White Star, how many times have I heard a customer tell me, “I like a dry Champagne like Moe-a White Star”. First of all its Moet, a Dutch name, (thank you Ron Washam for pointing out my error. I had originally said German) so go ahead and pronounce that T, secondly White Star is a sweeter wine that was created for the US market, not a dry wine, never was, tasted like donuts the first time I had it, gave me the gag shivers and I would only begrudgingly taste that shit during appointments where my Southern reps were begging me to bring the line back in the shop, which, after tasting, I never did. Always poorly made, (least in the past 15 years) and always priced like twice what the wines were worth. Not being dramatic, if I were handed a glass at a party I would pass and opt or water. They are that bad. The one thing that did get my attention at that, “Best of the Boring Crap We Have” tasting, no White Star.
I had heard somewhere that Moet & Chandon was dissolving the label, didn’t think much about it seeing as I hated the stuff and wasn’t even considering ordering it but, I do have an obligation to have answers as a specialist and all, and that includes knowing what’s up with the broad market dreck should anyone ask. I mentioned that I thought they had stopped making White Star to a friend a couple weeks ago, one that didn’t seem all that inclined to believe me I might add…and you have to know how much I love that, so I last night I popped on their website and guess what? Yeah, no White Star. Ha! Take that Mr. Smart T. Pants! Oh but not to worry, where that dreadfully dank and donuts tasting bubbly was, there is now another…oh yeah.
Fantastic! The first ever Champagne "designed" to pour over ice! Nothing says classy like ice cubes in your wine, especially your Champagne! Water and Champagne being so beneficial to one another and all. Don't I feel like the asshole now, I stopped putting water pitchers out for my Champagne classes years ago, because you know, I thought water, and one would assume ice as well, are Champagne killers. Color me so red-faced, should have looked to goddamn Moet. What….the…fuck?! I did some brief reading around the internets and this bullshit ice-needing swill is described as being “super-fruity” and just so you know, that is code for sweet, and has been targeted to exclusive, high-end, resorts and retailers, that right there is code for dumping this repackaged White Star, (I’m sure the bottle color is sheer coincidence) on the filthy rich that brand buy and have absolutely no taste….a little something cold, no icy, to sip on while their Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades is chilling in the gold lined ice box on the yacht. Cannot wait to see this show up on my Housewives of New Jersey….fucking Moet.
So I’ve done the research and I can say without hesitation, haven’t been missing a thing. Asshats keep making my job harder. Grumble....