Shades of. . . Marie Antoinette

In the newest erotic best-selling novel, “Maestra,” there’s a scene featuring Bellinis, but they’re made with Champagne (Veuve Cliquot, in this case) instead of Prosecco, as they were when invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, and now in the rest of the world. Queried about the discrepancy, the author, L.S. Hilton, quipped that in Portofino, where the scene was set, Bellinis are made with Veuve Cliquot, and “nicer than at Harry’s Bar in Venice,” a cute, if unnecessarily snotty, defense of conspicuous consumption: the spirit of Marie Antoinette lives on, obviously, as does the right to ruin good Champagne.
        That reminded me of the time I went to an event in Texas during the Republican presidential campaign years ago, where they were serving Krug and Guinness, though not calling them Black Russians, no doubt out of political caution. When we pesky journalists questioned the blend (“Waste of good Champagne!” said one, while the Irishman in the crowd said, “Waste of Guinness!”), a local big spender crowed that they were serving “nothing but the best.” In that case, we replied, we’ll just have the Krug. (The Irishman had his Guinness on the side.)

When in doubt, punt

I’ve been accused of tomfoolery over my warning of a signal of some wines being densely overblown blockbusters by identifying their bottles as having “Parker punts,” that is, deeper-than-usual indentations at the bottom of what are usually heavy bottles, regardless of the wines’ origins, grape varieties, or pedigree. I’ve been guilty of all sorts of tomfoolery in the past, but I’m not kidding.
        For example, take Sauska Hungarian Merlot 2011; it’s expensive (£75/$105 on this date), the bottle weighs 800 grams/1.8 pounds, which would come to more than 5 pounds per case of added weight over the average of most bottles, and the depth of the punt is almost to the second knuckle of my index finger. Inside: A dense, over-extracted, brooding beast, ungenerous, all tannin and muscularity, a relative of the grizzly bear that had its way with Leonardo di Caprio in “The Revenant”—a wine that fulfilled the promise of its package.
        Luckily, I also had a bottle of  Chateau de Gaudou “Renaissance” 2009, a Malbec from Cahors, standing by; Sauska went into the stewpot, this one, in a normal package and with a shallow-punted bottle a bit more than 200 grams lighter, went into me. It was lovely, did its job: to be enjoyable.
copyright 2010-2018 by Brian St. Pierre