Hosemaster of Wine dead wrong about Lady Gaga

June 24, 2013

Recent news makes this a reflective time for me, especially with Independence Day fast approaching. I am hoping we fully investigate Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, AP and NSA data mining allegations to their conclusions. I have diligently watched the hearings on C-span because I did not want the Fox-MSNBC, the alphabet news, or Washington Times-Post filters in play. Even if true, some problems were decided at low levels, the gravity of the situations and the resultant discord promoted call into question who was watching the store. If these folks haven’t breached our protections under the Bill of Rights, they have come very close in several instances.

The president and his cabinet are in charge of the government and especially the executive agencies. When agencies appear broken or dysfunctional, the leaders are ultimately responsible. My concern is that in each instance the “blame” has been laid on the shoulders of ”some low-level minion.” I still remember well the pattern with Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush and the angst it caused our country. I am hopeful we don’t revisit those days.

Mailbag: Sam from Cool Spring asked, “Hey John, how many size bottles is wine sold in?” In addition to this listing, there are numerous off sizes, too many to list here, roughly 24 in all. You can find most of them listed at That website also discusses color, shape, sizes and other interesting and useful information.

Usually the smallest wine bottle is named a split, aka pony or snipe; it holds 187 ml or 6.32 ounces. Half = 375 ml; bottle or fifth = 750 ml; Magnum = 2 bottles; Jeroboam 4; Methuselah = 8 ; Salmanzar = 12 Balthazar =16 and Nebuchadnezzar = 20 bottles.Fewer large bottles are produced, so they increase in price faster than 750 ml in good years. The downside for consumers is they age more slowly. There are several reasons for this.

The most important is oxidation, due to cork permeability allowing oxygen into the bottle. The rate is similar in most bottlings, but the amount of wine is much larger.

Rose asked, “What about Leviathan?” Great read! Truth is, this effort by former Screaming Eagle winemaker Andy Erickson and his viticulturist wife Annie Favia is just OK priced under $50, but no bargain. I rated the 2009 88 points. Note: dark wine-colored blend of Syrah, Cab Sauvignon and Franc, and Merlot. Sort of Bordeaux nose. My notes were scant, and I really don’t remember it.

“What do you think of Ron Washam?” asked Ted. The guy can be a hoot. Calls his blog Hosemaster of Wine. Illustrative lines I’ve read from him: “Walla Walla is the Lady Gaga of wine regions. I made this up, but it's really catchy,” writes Ron.

“Walla Walla = Gaga. And there are so many other similarities. Lots of fancy packaging with basically nothing inside. And next year we won't be talking about either one of them.”

Although I found that funny on some levels, I think he is dead wrong on Gaga. She will be with us for a while. So will Dunham Cellars, Pepper Bridge, Mark Ryan and Cayuse among others. The Cayuse Syrah Cailloux Vineyard 2009 is a 94-point gem, and the 2006 was even better. With 96 percent Syrah and 4 percent Viognier, great front end with aromas of blackberry, blueberry and raspberry, the mid-palate exhibited minerality, leather and earthiness to support the fruit.

The 2009 is pinot style; it shows lots of pepper on the nose, earth, figs, plums, bacon fat, game and olive aromas. Great balance; long finish problem for me. It’s selling for $150 per bottle.

I would pony up the extra $30 and go with four bottles of Krupp Brothers Winery Black Bart’s Bounty Napa Valley Syrah 2007, selling under $45, instead. Deep garnet in color with black tints. Opens to violets, blueberry, licorice and white pepper aromas. On the palate, blackberry and hints of red raspberry plus complex tannins that coat the entire mouth. Game, roast meat, dark chocolate flavors; it finishes slightly alcoholic, but inoffensive; 93 points. Check out Hosemaster of Wine, but only if you can handle a risqué approach.

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