Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dry Muscat, Desperate Housewives and Drake

Here's an inside-baseball story: it's about a good wine story I hoped to sell to a big publication, and why I'm glad I didn't try.

In other words, it's a story about a non-story.

Late last year I spent a delightful weekend at Chateau L'Hospitalet in Narbonne, France. The owner, Gérard Bertrand, invited me and some other writers to a truffle hunt. When it comes to truffles, I'm like a trained pig ... well, except for the "trained" part.

Anyway, we were all drinking a fair amount of Bertrand's wine at lunch on the day of the hunt. He has five different estates in the Languedoc and he's been a huge success in Europe with New World style wines: mostly fruit-driven, with mild tannins. I really liked his white Cigalus blend, which allegedly won some award for being the best white in business class, and I could see it. Good balance, nice fruit; perky yet elegant.

Bertrand was a rugby star, though he looks more like a late-40s Ian McKellen playing a tennis star in the movies: tall, slim, elegant, but ready to take action. His staff says he works all the time and, shockingly for France, expects them to do the same. One woman said he once burst in on her in the shower to ask for some report. An American would have sued; she did the job. Moreover, she reported the incident with a mix of admiration, fear and pride. Many of his staff bragged about how great it is that their team exceeds the normal French work day. But while happy, with Bertrand on the premises and a big weekend planned, they all looked nervous.

I digress from my non-story. So I'm yakking to another American about "The Walking Dead" or the Giants winning the Series or something when I overhear Bertrand saying his wine was on "Desperate Housewives" in the US, and his distributor wants 100,000 cases of dry Muscat.

My reporter's antennae jump out of my head like in My Favorite Martian. Sacre bleu! 100,000 cases of dry Muscat! This is like Pinot Noir's "Sideways" moment. I lean in and start questioning him.

I'm writing this, unusually for me, after tippling a little; maybe more than that. And you won't see quotes because I'm not bothering to open my notebook. You'll see why.

Bertrand tells me his dry Muscat was on "Desperate Housewives," and now women are asking for it. He says fans are talking about it. And his distributor is Southern Wine & Spirits, which I figure would never want to take on that much of a wine it couldn't move.

I'm already writing the story in my head, and it's tasty -- man, this could go to any publication. Who do I offer it to first? We talked for a while; I filled a bunch of notebook pages. That I'm not looking at now.

I google "Desperate Housewives" and "Muscat". Nada. I try various combinations, like "Desperate Housewives" and "Muscat Wine." Maybe this post will now come up first for that exact combination.

So I get home and I contact ABC's rep for "Desperate Housewives." He checks previous episodes and production notes for upcoming episodes, and can't find any Muscat.

Then I realize Bertrand might have confused it with one of the "Real Housewives" shows on Bravo.

I don't watch that stuff. Did you know there are now 6 of them? Sacre bleu! "Real Housewives of" Orange County, New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey, D.C. and Beverly Hills. Somewhere there has to be one Real Housewife drinking Muscat.

Fortunately for me, Bravo has one PR rep for all 6 shows. She checks and tells me "Paul Nassif had a case of white burgundy flown in from France as part of his anniversary surprise for Adrienne Maloof." But nope, no Muscat.

So I contact Bertrand's very nice and helpful PR person and ask, could Gérard have somehow misunderstood his distributor on that subject I interviewed him about for, oh, 20 minutes, and on which he gave me definitive answers? (I didn't actually ask it like this.)

And she says, and here I quote:

For the Moscato, in fact, Gérard got a bit confused …. It is not coming from a TV show but from the songs of the US raper called Drake.
Here are some lyrics:
“its a celebration
clap, clap bravo
lobster and shrimp 

and a glass of moscato 

for the girl whos a student 

and her friend whos a model 

finish the whole bottle”

I'm fairly sure she meant to write "rapper."

So that's it. I'm so glad I didn't prematurely email any of the publications I write for from France to say, "Hey, I got a nice little story for you about how Desperate Housewives is trying to do for dry Muscat what Sideways did for Pinot Noir." And that notebook from the interview feels contaminated.

But I laughed out loud. And I'm still smiling writing this.

'Cause you know, "Desperate Housewives" and a "US raper called Drake," they're so similar, anybody could make that mistake.

Tasting note:

Gérard Bertrand "Cigalus" Vin de Pays d'Oc 2009 (about $20)
The vineyard is located in Corbières, but Bertrand claims the man he bought it from had a bad relationship with the president of Corbières, so that's why the vineyard is still Vin de Pays. The good news is, not following the Corbières rules allows Bertrand to use an unusual blend of three grapes not allowed in the region: Chardonnay (70%), Viognier (27%) and Sauvignon Blanc (3%). Tasting tank samples of the 2010 makes clear that the Viognier and Sauv Blanc give the wine all its character and the Chardonnay is essentially filler. It smells and tastes like a ripe but well-rounded Viognier: green and golden apple with pretty floral notes and a hint of ginger. I haven't seen it for sale in the US, unfortunately, but it's only about 10 Euros in France, and it's a wine that shows how great Vin de Pays whites from Languedoc can be. "Girl named Alice/poured Cigalus/yo it really tastes nice" -- a US rap(p)er called Blake. 91


wino_yes said...

Fun post. What I want to know is which rosé Lisa Vanderpump was always drinking at Villa Blanca on RHOBH.

My guess was Carlotta La Reverie Grenache Rosé because it looked like it had a white wax top.

Now that I google it, it looks like it is their own label, made by Summerland. Mystery solved.

lorinarlock said...

LOL!!! I LOVE this. Great post.

Lee from Vancouver BC said...

Drake is Canadian not American, but we do call ourselves North Americans once in a while as do the Mexicans ;)

W. Blake Gray said...

Lee: We took Neil Young, but you can keep Anne Murray and Rush.

wino_yes said...

Do you watch Big Love? It's about polygamy... Anyhow, I am pretty sure Barb (first wife) was drinking Ménage à Trois in a recent episode. Heh.

W. Blake Gray said...

Wino: I don't watch Big Love currently, but if they do a crossover with the Walking Dead I'll be sure to tune in. Is polygamy legal if some of the spouses are zombies?