On Facebook, I’ve been ‘defriended ‘ by a California winemaker after I took exception to some silly-ass generalization she made about wine writers, which in the interest of journalistic trifling I would repeat verbatim except that evidently once you get defriended, you can’t refer back to old stuff. I didn’t realize this. What I do realize is that this Facebook concept of defriending is news to me. According to her profile pic, this particular winemaker is a moderately attractive blonde woman, and technically, of course, I have been defriended by many moderately attractive blonde women, including one I married and had kids with.
Defriended, yes. But not quite so electronically.
So I am really not sure how offended to be. Facebook defriending is a social phenomenon that screams twenty-first century nickel-diming, and year-wise, I am a bit more attuned to vintages like’61, ’89, ’95.
The entire extent of ‘2011’ that I need to know is: Push the button and if it doesn’t work, call Comcast.
The winemaker in question also tried to further bruise my digital ego by suggesting that as a wine writer, she’s never heard of me. I certainly would have accommodated this comment with a mea culpa of complete public self-excoriation, up to and including the wearing of a blonde hair-shirt, but the truth of the matter is, I have been writing about wine for twenty years and I haven’t heard of me either.
Oh, the ironic, post-modern humiliation of it all.
Touché, Morgan Clendenen.
Nonetheless, I first made a magnanimous attempt to have Morgan send me a bottle of her wine to review. By ‘magnanimous attempt’, of course, I mean I asked her to send me a bottle for free. To which she responded that it was not her policy to send out free review bottles, which is probably why there’s bad blood between Cold Heaven and us terminally tight-wadded wine reviewers.
I understand her policy, however, and even though I wouldn’t dream of charging her for the glowing review I would subsequently write, I tried to find her wines at some—any—local wine shop, fully prepared to pay. And tried, and tried, without success. Why bother? So I could be ethical and prove myself above this degrading diva and her disquieting defriending?
Or because I’m a petty-fogging, picayune punk intending to dis a new best defriend’s wine?
It’s because Morgan refers to herself as the ‘Queen of Viognier’, and that is an intriguing title for anyone outside of northern Rhône to pin upon themselves.
Basically, I am not aware of anyone outside the seven small communes of Condrieu, just south of Côte-Rôtie, who has manifested a fully-realized grasp of this temperamental varietal—maybe because it’s the only legally permitted grape throughout the whole AOC, and maybe because they’ve been mollycoddling it since around 400 BC. That gives the vignerons of Limony, Chavanay, Malleval, Saint-Michel-sur-Rhône, Saint-Pierre-de Boeuf, Vérin, and Condrieu a twenty-four hundred year head start over the Queen of Viognier, who’s been at it for fifteen.
Still, Clendenen’s reputation preceded her, and I read that she teamed up with Condrieu’s mechanic-turned superstar Yves Cuilleron to produce a 50/50 blend of his grapes and hers. The results were said to be remarkable. Clendenen is also known as a stickler for quality fruit—someone who has no interest in expanding her Cold Heaven label unless she gets it. Most vintners do not have this luxury, of course, but the fact that she was married to Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat (among Robert Parker’s short list of ‘Best Wineries in the World’; producer of more than 30,000 cases annually) may have allowed her a certain, shall we say, ‘freedom’ worth its weight in gold-tinted viognier. Some folks are born great; others have greatness thrust into them.
So What’s the Defriending All About?
Glad you asked. In an unfortunate stroke of really bad luck, when I was writing about Clendenen’s disparaging remarks concerning my hallowed profession, I hit the wrong key on my keyboard and referred to her as the ‘Queer of Viognier’ to which she took untoward umbrage. Well, excu-u-u-use me. Why bitch slap me? Go after SpellCheck, and specifically, the Urban Dictionary version.
So, since I am unable to come up with a bottle of Cold Heaven by hook or crook, legally or otherwise, this column—which was supposed to be about the state of the art in Central Coast viognier, winds up instead being a chilled white whine about the state of the art in petty defriending—and more specifically, about the defriending of little yours truly—an arthritic, plain-looking, middle-aged black woman with a Jim Jones fetish (a Jones jones, you might say) by a high-powered and super-aggressive woman from California—and not just any high-powered and super-aggressive woman from California… but by the Queef of Viognier herself.
Oh, the humanity. The humanity!