99% of the time, I’d rather pluck my eyelashes out one by one than read anything written by one of the major wine critics. The ramblings of bloviated old assholes like Robert Parker could not be less interesting to me, but the one bright spot in this barren, ick-inducing landscape (let’s just stop calling things hedonistic, it’s starting to give me the creeps) is Jancis Robinson. The first ever person outside the wine trade to become a Master of Wine and author of huge, impressively researched tomes (I refer to the Oxford Companion to Wine as “the argument ender”), she is one bad bitch, but she doesn’t come across like a pretentious, douche-y twit. Her reviews and descriptions are sometimes criticized for being too vague, short, and, well, plain weird, and that is exactly why I love them.
Her wine writing style can be summed up in a phrase she wrote describing a Champagne from a producer named Eric Rodez: “It smokes a cigar, that one.” My boss showed this to me when it came out with kind a chuckle, as if to say, “oh, Jancis, how charmingly eccentric of her.” I thought, this woman is my spirit animal. Because honestly, it’s a perfect description of this wine. If it came to life one day as an actual human, it would be a portly older gentleman who smokes expensive cigars. He’s leaning back in a leather club chair and making lewd comments to the waitress, but you kind of like him anyway.
In the spirit of Jancis, I’ve anthropomorphized a few recent wines I’ve tasted. None of them quite smoked a cigar, though.
Le Jade Chardonnay Viognier 2014 She’s training for a half-marathon and she’s SO excited! Have you seen photos of her new chihuahua? Or her food blog? She had a custom font created for it! Have you tried her recipe for chia see pudding that will give you diarrhea? It tastes just like pumpkin pie!
Langlois Pere et Fils Pinot Noir Val de Loire 2013 Now she’s one of those models you see who looks like she’s about 15 (and probably is), with impossibly pale, freckled skin, red hair, and features so striking she almost looks alien, but instead is just incredibly beautiful, at least when shot by an arty photographer. In real life she looks like a normal, gawky teenager. Unfortunately usually dressed in some kind of suit of armor covered in yak fur on the pages of Vogue, but that face!
Produttori del Barbaresco 2009 He’s a wiry older dude with ropey forearm veins who lives in your neighborhood. You always see him at your local coffee shop. He reads constantly and has the most interesting book recommendations, has faint BO, and is always trying to get you to go to his herbalist. You should just suck it up and go, it would probably change your life.
Spotswoode Sauvignon Blanc 2014 She wears Escada and St. John suits, coral lipstick, still tans, and seems like she’d be a gas to have lunch with because she’d give you lots of tough-love advice about men and your career, and also like she still has a landline and takes off one of her giant, door-knocker-sized earrings with a theatrical flourish before answering it. A broad, in the best sense of the word.
Puech Haut Prestige Rose 2014 She plays tennis and has a summer home, owns and actually uses nice stationary, and always smells like that fancy water with cucumbers and lemon slices in it they serve at eye-wateringly expensive spas.
Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay 2012 He’s got the build of an aging athlete and always remembers salient details about your life. Used to play football. Actually goes to town hall meetings. Coaches his daughter’s softball team. Unfailingly loyal. A total bore.
Casa Ferreirinha Planalto Vinho Branco Seco 2013 If this wine came to life, his name would be Glenn. He talks about his feelings a lot and took you on a date to an art exhibit that was supposed to ‘challenge’ you. Glenn, no one wants to be challenged on a date! And WHAT is with the exposed chest hair? That shirt is unbuttoned to your navel! Online dating is really the worst sometimes…