Why Weidmann’s Win Over Silva “Might” Have Been Staged

 

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Weidman’s victory over Anderson Silva was amazing to say the least. But as an astute and bewildered observer, I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow the fight had been fixed.  It was an overall feeling I had which was then interesting to note others in the media felt as well. Before we consider if there was foul play, it is imperative to note why myself and others were so shocked at the outcome. The fight should not in anyone’s mind have gone the way it did. If Weidman was to win, it would have been by decision, much like the one Chael Sonnon should have gotten in the first fight.  But a Weidman knockout in the second round? — one in a million chance.  In order to ponder the points made above, it is imperative to separate the general bewilderment with such an outcome and the actual evidence that there might have been foul play. If we want to go down that dangerous road, the evidence would be as follows:

1. In the first round Weidman took Silva down very easily, more than I have ever seen in any of Silva’s fights and far easier than Chael Sonnen was able to do. Weidman further held Silva down longer and did more damage than anyone else. With such ease why didn’t Weidman take him down again in the first round and was so horribly unsuccessful in the second? Whether this proves anything, people would have to agree that there has never been such a dichotomy between two take downs from the same fighter against the same opponent in UFC history.

2. Didn’t Anderson Silva’s moves seem a bit….I don’t know, off? His kicks seemed lazy, timed and not as sharp as they have been. His punches lacked finesse and were all over the place, never connecting with precision.  I understand that the hands down approach is his way to goad people in, but this was very sloppy and very un-Anderson Silva.

3. I don’t know how hard the punch was from Weidman that put Silva on his back but judging by the replay over and over again, it didn’t seem to be in full force. I know with gloves so small anything can happen, but this is Anderson Silva at the end of the day. The greatest UFC fighter ever. The man who stood in front of Forest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar and others with his hands down and let them punch him in the face over and over. Now all of a sudden he is being laid out cold by a Chris Weidman cross? Seems strange. Further, when the fight was finished Anderson Silva was so dazed that he grabbed onto the refs legs and tried to wrestle him down.  I don’t know how to put it, but this just seemed very fake.

4. When the fight was stopped, Weidman seemed happy but not as ecstatic as one would think for being on the positive side of one of the greatest upsets in sports history. I don’t mean to sound like TV police who accuse a husband of murder because he was not crying enough when they told him his wife has been killed, but it would just seem that Weidman could have been a little more excited and teary eyed at pulling off when many conisdered an impossible task. Even during the press conference it seemed like it was just another day at the office for him, not that he just made the impossible possible by knocking out Anderson Silva.

5. Did you notice how defensive Dana White got when asked about a fixed fight in the post-fight interviews and further how defensive he seemed when asked about the fight in general? There was something different about him for sure.

Yet, if the fight was fixed, what would possibly be the reason? Does Anderson Silva want to retire and this is his way of doing it? Was he threatened into throwing away the fight? Was Weidman in on it or was it a solo act, or is the whole UFC behind it from Dana White on down in an attempt to shake up the most stagnated division in the UFC and create a new champion? It was a little strange, don’t you think, how so many fighters and analysts predicted a Weidman victory. Not to take away anything from Weidman, but Anderson Silva is the greatest fighter ever and his last two fights were his best yet. How was everyone so sure Weidman was going to win?

In the end, stranger things have happened and the Chris Weidman spectacular victory is probably just that. But if someone decided to investigate this some more, let’s just say I wouldn’t stop them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is this Wine Infographic at All Useful or Just Another Way to Promote Wine Laziness

White wine is so confusing that a man decided to create an infographic that would lead you to one particular type of wine based on a style that you prefer by analyzing specific traits and characteristics of what you previously drank.

“Seidell has compiled a chart that encompasses flavors such as spicy, honey, pear, floral, and herbal. Each wine style is represented by a star that points to the flavors which best describe it. The chart makes it possible to see at a glance what the usual flavor characteristics of an unfamiliar wine might be.”

I get it, and am glad another person is trying to find ways of demystifying this horribly messy world of wine. I wonder though, would a person who goes to this much trouble to ask “I love Muscadet, but can’t seem to find any other wines that are like this…let me consult the infographic” really be that lazy or even uneducated to take it upon himself to garner a basic understanding of what specific categories different white varietals can fall into. Does he really need an infograph to tell him that? I mean…is it really that hard to go to your wine store of choice and say “gee, I really liked that Chablis you gave me…what’s another white wine that is similar?”

However and more to the point, this infograph is only analyzing specific flavor profiles from a generic and upfront perspective, forgetting that there is a whole sea life of flavor underneath that may or may not be what you are looking for. Using Chablis again as an example: According to the infograph, if you like Chablis you would probably like Albarino. I love Chablis but Albarino is hit or miss for me. While the body is similar in both, Albarino can be too perfumed and floral while Chablis has a distinct minerality that is unprecedented — like Shamu made love to a Macoun apple at it’s finest expression. Just because they might be similar in body doesn’t mean they are at all similar in expression (fill in the blank for a horrible sexual reference).

And with that, I think I have a 2010 Piuze Vaillons in the fridge which I will drink and not think about what it is similar to, but what it is not similar to.

 

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Where has all the Occhipinti Gone?

I am caught in a conundrum here. I get so excited when people try new wines that I love and know they will love to, but then become upset when the same wine or producer gets too popular for me to have my full generous amount. I love the fact that wines I love are small in production but when they run out I want them to make as much as Yellow Tail. From Arianna Occhipinti, to Arnot Roberts and Clos Saron, the wines I love are being swept away by the masses who also love wine. Is this a good thing? Should I be happy so many people are opening their minds towards wine that were dormant for so long? Okay, I guess I do.

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Top 5 “Best Value” Red Burgundy?

When “value” and “wine” are put in the same sentence, Burgundy never seems to follow. For the vivacious red can never compete with Malbec or Carmenere for the price, but then again, what is value anyway? For wine, value is not just the best 20 under $20, but a great wine for a great price that exists within a particular competitive market. Since Burgundy is by all majority opinion the greatest wine in the world, the competition and quality price ratio (QPR) are a bit harder to judge. Every Burgundy drinker seems to have a fixed QPR set within their brain as they go about their search for the next best thing for their collection.

With that in mind, below are the 5 best QPR Burgundies that I have seen on a year to year basis throughout the last decade.  This brings up a controversial point in that by making any top list that delineates a particular producer for year in and year out QPR, I am somehow being antithetical to the laws of Burgundy; that “branding” a wine is a new world thing. By somehow suggesting that these producers and their wine are quality driven every year, presumes they are more focused on a homogeneous taste like Jacob’s Creek Shiraz and not allowing the terroir and vintage variations to speak truth to power. On the contrary, the producers and their wines below, are ones that definitely have a reputation for excellence by making great wine every year at an amazing and competitive price point. They are a cut above the rest.  Terroir and vintage are just as important as the ingenuity of the winemaker itself. That is the tripartite of excellence in Burgundy that we have come to know and love.

5. Camus Bruchon Savigny les Beaune, 1er cru Narbontons: $37-$40

This pick is more personal as I love this wine and cannot understand why it is not more popular. But I guess it has to do with the fact that Savigny les Beaune is an area that tends to lack an identity which is sad because several producers have some real interesting premier cru wines with significant village distinction. Bruchon’s premier crus are a tad cheaper than the competition and his Narbontons is my favorite of the bunch. What I love about this wine year in and year out is the sense of purpose it seems to exude from the first smell to the last sip. It almost speaks and says “I know I am cheap and not very respected, but give me a shot and I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that every last ounce of my individual capability is fully expressed.”

4. Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin, Clos st. Jacques: $300-$400

This is definitely a shock to some, but do remember what I wrote in the beginning. Rousseau’s CSJ is to me the best bottle of Burgundy below $500. I would even say there are times I have preferred his CSJ to the Chambertin and Clos des Beze that are nowadays fetching twice the price. Further, when you compare the price tag of  CSJ to others from grand cru areas that are above $500 and into the thousands, the price difference is not justified. This is one of the best Burgundies in existence which could charge a lot more, but doesn’t.

3. Domaine Fourrier Gevrey Chambertin Vielles Vignes: $65-$70

Fourrier is hands down one of my favorite producers, but his village Gevrey stands out as an example of how I like my Gevrey in general to be and what basic village wine can aspire to: fresh, vibrant and juicy, as if the most delicate and pure nectar from a berry tree was being whisked along your palate as you stand under a waterfall catching the mist tingling up and down your body. Yeah, that kind of freshness.  Every year since 2005 it has been my hands down one of my favorite QPR village wine from the entire Cote d’Or and when compared to other great village Gevreys such as Rousseau’s and Bachelet’s which fetch over $100, this wine is definitely one of the best.

2. Domaine Faiveley Corton, Clos des Corton: $150-$170

I am often surprised at how a wine with such an excellent name and reputation does not get bought up more quickly. Part of it probably has to do with the fact that this wine can’t be touched for at least 30 years from its inception and can easily last a lifetime. Other wines from Corton and nearby Pommard can have this type of longevity, but nothing in this price range can develop the grace and beauty of Faiveley’s Clos des Corton. It can do amazing things in its age and just when you think it has peaked you realize it can last another decade without a hint of decline. When you consider that others which do this type of magic are two-three times the price, you realize what QPR really means.

1. Mugneret Gibourg Vosne Romanee: $60-$75

This is an easy one….no drum roll please! I get very little of this wine every year and it is definitely at the top of people’s acquisition list. Nobody would ever say no to this. It is a village Vosne Romanee that absolutely blows away any other village Vosne out there, let alone any Vosne for the same price. If this wine were $125 people would still buy it. If Fourrier is my answer to Gevrey Chambertin, Gibourg is the truth when it comes to Vosne Romanee. It is perfumed and beautiful with the depth and distinction of a premier cru and did I say it was under $100?

And with that ladies and gentleman, save your money because 2011 is going to be pricey!

 

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How to Keep the UFC Exciting after 159

 

UFC 159 was both duly exciting and metaphorical. Great fights all around but perhaps an explicit showcase of the fact that the bout of listed future fights are for the most part (with some exceptions here and there) going to be lackluster. This will especially be the case in the middle, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. There is simply too much saturation at the top of the divisions, with very little competition coming from below. After Jones proved once and again he owns the 205 division, there are some changes that need to be implemented for the UFC to maintain its excitement.

Instead of these pornographic super fights that don’t seem like they are ever going to take place (St. Pierre vs Henderson, St. Pierre vs Silva, Silva vs Jones, Jones vs Velasquez) how about everyone moves up a division? St. Pierre moves to 185, Silva to 205, Jones to heavyweight. This would allow for a whole new level of exciting fights and contender fights within each division, shaking things up and allowing the best fighters to actually be challenged in new ways that they have not seen in a long time.

Think for a minute about how important this will be for these divisions at the top and the potential fights that can come out of it.  The middle weight division has some talent but with Silva at the top and a future uncertain, all contenders have nothing to look forward to anytime soon (I mean who is next in line, Bisping?) The lightweight division  once used to be my favorite, but today there is no one left for Jones to fight that would be exciting. However the heavyweight division definitely needs the most shaking up. It is so lacking in competition that Velasquez’s next fight is against a guy he decimated only two fights ago. Without Jon Jones moving up, I don’t see who Velasquez can realistically fight next apart from the same guys (Dos Santos and maybe Overeem) over and over again. Velasquez needs a challenge.

Equally, there are any many heavyweights who should be at light heavyweight. Roy Nelson weighs in at 240. He should be able to lose 20 lbs in a month and then cut to 205.  Nelson is an exciting fighter, but he has no chance with the top guys in the heavyweight division with his weight and skill set. At 205, there could be some awesome fights (Anderson Silva vs Roy Nelson!) Others in the heavyweight division like Brendan Schaub and Pat Barry who weigh in at around 235 as well, could easily make 205 and have a much greater chance at success.  If changes like this don’t begin to take place, all divisions above welterweight will start to become irrelevant. I don’t want that to happen, do you?

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The Top 10 Episodes of South Park

The folks over at ScreenInvasion.com recently did something brilliant. In light of March Madness, they created their own “South Park madness,” by taking 64 episodes selected to be the best by a number of experts and then formatting it in a winner take all to be voted on this Wednesday. Such an awesome idea. However, I am not 100% in line with their choices, especially for their number 1 picks. But hey, if you love South Park as much as I do that your willing to create such ridiculous games, then your okay in my book. With that being said, I have never been one to not voice my opinion, so here it is: The top 10 South Park episodes ever created – in chronological order. 

This was some serious consideration. Seriously, there are so many great episodes and to even consider picking a top 3, let alone #1, would be impossible.  I find that the best episodes are the ones that make you laugh afterwards, that put you to sleep thinking “holy shit, that was funny,” and more importantly smart, unique, well thought out and laced with political messages. Yes political messages that harmlessly but intellectually poke fun at the numerous social issues South Park deals with. Issues of race, religion, gender, politics and most importantly, how people take themselves so damn seriously. Please keep this in mind as you read the list below. Some of these might not have been the most laugh out loud funny, but think about their influence on the show’s progression and how it sticks with you when you look at South Park as a whole.  Here it goes……

 

1. Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride, Season 1.

2. Scott Tenorman Must Die, Season 5

3. It Hits the Fan, Season 5

4. The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers, Season 6

5. The Passion of the Jew, Season 8

6. Mr. Garrison’s Fancy New Vagina, Season 9

7. A Million Little Fibers, Season 10

8. With Apologies to Jesse Jackson, Season 11

9. Fishsticks, Season 13.

10. Whale Whores, Season 13.

Honorable Mentions: Ass Burgers, Crack Baby Athletic Association, Jewpacabra, Insecurity

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The End of Illness by David B. Agus, MD

Every so often a Burgundy customer of mine (Dr. Agus initially made the wise decision of ordering some Francois Gaunoux, Beaune Clos des Mouches from me) also moonlights as a New York Times best selling author, kind enough to send me a signed copy of his book. Figured the least I could do is write a review even though I’m about as qualified to review a book on medicine as the winemakers at Yellowtail are to review a book on wine vintage variation.

It is actually somewhat coincidental that I chose to read “The End of Illness” at this particular life junction. I have been on quite the health kick lately; eating a strict paleo diet based on Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof system (a separate post in and of itself) with the hopes of maximizing my daily energy, alertness and analytic thinking. It has been great and led me to start taking an extreme interest in other aspects of health and nutrition. In other words, if six months ago someone told me to read “The End of Illness,” I would have laughed and advised them to place it near the bottom of my thousand book waiting list. Nowadays, a book like this would come closer to the top.

As numerous reviews of this book and a good plethora of interviews with Dr. Agus (even on the Daily Show) are widely available, I will spare a chapter by chapter synopsis and get to the heart of it.  The most poignant epiphany I took from “The End of Illness” is that humans (especially Americans) have become too complacent in our acceptance of illness. We need to begin fighting back by not just going to the doctor once a year and asking what is wrong with us and what he/she can do to make it all go away, but beginning to see the body as a hard working teenager would see their first car: a machine with interdependent parts. We need to become responsible for these parts, not just letting the mechanic fix them when needed, but striving to have them shine everyday and coaxing them to see their fullest potential for as long as they possibly can.

In providing this analysis, Dr. Agus goes through more than half the book with tons of illuminating insights into how this can be done by breaking down numerous misconceptions that we have been fed for generations such as our obsession with collecting nutrients from supplements instead of real food, the problems with continually searching for miracle foods that will cure illnesses and ailments and the idea that calories in calories out in basic and repetitive exercise will help us lose weight and stay fit. From there, Dr. Agus provides us with some interesting suggestions for improvement within our own bodies.  Some of them might seem like common sense and almost redundant, but if this is the case, then why do so few of us follow his lead in issues such as avoiding stress and getting more movement throughout the day other than our allotted 30 minutes of exercise?

Overall, this is a great book for someone — like moi — who has very little knowledge of medicine, illness and biology, but takes an extreme interest in their own lifestyle and what can make them a healthier and more productive person. Luckily Dr. Agus writes in as non a technical manner as he can, even though I had to go back and re-read some lines from time to time. But if Jon Stewart is willing to promote it. how hard can it be for the average American?

My only small gripe with the book is his long chapter on supplements. As an avid supplement taker, I am aware that not everyone is a fan. Some are avidly against while others preach extreme moderation. Dr. Agus is definitely of the latter and I don’t fault him for being cautious, but it would behoove anyone in the field to understand that not all supplements are created equal. Although I take around 15 different supplements a day, they are all researched extensively for their particular reaction. In other words I don’t just wake up and do supplement shots on the bar. More importantly, Dr. Agus did not mention that the particular brand of supplements matters. Do they contain soy, dairy, gluten and other preservatives that you probably have too much of already in your daily life? How and where were they made is another significant issue and a result, certain brands such as Now, Jarrow and Solaray have been my go to guys after extensive research on their quality. I guess Dr. Agus will save that for his next book, with a special section on the amazing health qualities of Burgundy, bought only from a particular store in midtown, Manhattan.

 

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Why does God hate Frankie Edgar?

Another decision has gone against Frankie Edgar, who in theory, should be holding dual belts at 145 and 155 right now.  But for the third straight time, the gods have gone against him. The name “Edgar” might go down in UFC history as metaphorical for being on the unlucky side of a decision victory. “I got Edgarred.”

Frankie clearly won Saturday night. He fought with grace, tearing angles, jarring precision and a pace that left me breathless from the couch. Most importantly, by the time the bell rang in round five, Edgar got the better of Aldo, was ready to continue for another five rounds if needed, all the while Aldo was ready for bed. Yet the decision did not go his way.

Frankly (and no pun intended) I don’t see how a sentient judge could not give Edgar rounds 3-5 and believe it or not, even two of the judges gave four of the five rounds to Aldo. How could this be when most sane people watching; people who understand the sport, clearly gave rounds 3-5 to Edgar. Even Joe Rogan stated the obvious of the 3rd round “Edgar clearly got the better of these exchanges” (with Mike Goldberg agreeing) only to later backtrack in the post-fight interview and state “I thought rounds four and five were yours, three was a big question mark.”

Before I break the fight down and argue why Edgar really won, I have a theory on why Edgar keeps getting screwed. I believe, his fighting style is quite unique and one that a lot of people don’t understand when judging his tremendous talents. Rogan and Goldberg frequently state that no one has more heart than Edgar, and while that is true, I don’t think that explains why he is as talented as he is. Edgar is not a knockout artist, submission specialist, or show off who is going to solicit oohs and aahs with his spinning Kill Bill moves. Edgar is sleek, crafty and smart, but more importantly, there is a level of nuance embedded in his style that people — and unfortunately judges — just don’t pay attention to. His darting in and out moves continually keep his opponent off-balance allowing him to not only dictate the pace, but prevent his opponent from getting comfortable. He never goes for the knockout (but when he does catch you like he caught the undefeated Grey Maynard with a crashing uppercut) it can be lights out. But this is not Edgar’s focus. His fights — at least the last seven — are five round fights, and his goal is to come out at the end being the one who got the better of his opponent. In my opinion, this has happened every time in his last seven fights.

Unfortunately in 2013, this is not the style that pays the bills. We want the knockout artist, the fighter who can do something amazing to end it and if not, will solicit tons of “oohs and ahhs” with the show they have put on. If we were to use baseball analogy, the 100 mph strikeout fastball pitcher, will always be more popular than the sleek curveball/change-up one, even if the latter wins more games and has a lower ERA.

With that being said and before I articulate on this some more, according to the UFC rule book, bouts are judged according to the following criteria in order of importance. How did Edgar fare?

1. Effective striking: “determining the total number of legal strikes landed by a contestant”

I agree that this should be the most important criteria when judging a fight. Yet all too often it is misguided and unfortunately scored wrong. The language is not ambiguous, “total number of strikes”, not how fancy the strike looks or how loudly Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg yell “ohhhh,” when it connects. Total number of strikes means total number of strikes. Frankie Edgar overwhelmed Edgar in this regard. Not only for the entire fight, but for the three “close” rounds: 3-5.

Now some of you might be asking what happens in the situation where one fighter lands more shots, but the second fighter lands bigger shots, potentially knocking the other fighter down? Unfortunately the UFC does not provide an answer for how this should be scored. But I think it is quite obvious. If fighter A is picking fighter B apart for the first 2.5 minutes only to get knocked out, then this should only matter if the nature of the round has changed,. Has fighter A been hurt, in turn slowing him down and allowing fighter B to dictate who is in charge, then yes, fighter B wins the round. But this did not happen once in the Edgar Aldo fight. Yes, Aldo’s punches were more spectacular, but they did not change the nature of the fight. It did not cripple Edgar, slow him down or allow Aldo to begin having his way with how the fight would proceed. They just looked cooler than Edgar’s shots, but they were not enough to hurt Edgar and change anything about how the fight was going to play out.

However even if bigger badder shots were part of the criteria, Aldo did not even do that much. He had two amazing leg kicks in round two that clearly shocked Edgar, a face kick in round 3 that did not faze Edgar for one bit, and then an awesome superman punch to close off round 5.  Unfortunately for Edgar, these moves in rounds 3 and 5 were probably what gave Aldo the slight edge in the judges scorecards, or at least the idiot ones that gave round 5 to Aldo.  It is shocking that educated and professional judges can be this vain and childish when it comes to scoring. It is tantamount to picking your presidential candidate based on his suit.

2. Effective grappling:  ”judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown and reversals.”

Easy. While Edgar did not take Aldo down as much as he would have liked, he did take him down a few times, while the opposite never happened.

3. Control of the ring/fighting area: “is judged by determining who is dictating the pace, location and position of the bout.”

This one makes me the most irate because all too often, it is completely ignored. Edgar clearly controlled the fight. From rounds 1-5 he took the center of the octagon , chose what pace he would set, and worked his way from there. Yes he could have down a better job, but this doesn’t change the fact that Aldo did not control the pace at all.

4. Effective aggressiveness and defense: “means avoiding being struck, taken down or reversed while countering with offensive attacks.”

This criteria is tough. One could argue that Aldo avoided the majority of take downs, but then again, he didn’t try for any take downs of his own, so this seems to cancel itself out. As for defense from strikes, even though Edgar landed more, he also threw more. But remember the last part of the sentence “while countering with offensive attacks.” This would make it roughly even for both fighters.

In conclusion, Edgar got unlucky for the 3rd time in a row in an almost identical set of judging criteria. God hates him or perhaps people from Jersey. Who knows, but either way Edgar’s team needs to sit down and rethink his future. It is hard ask yourself what you should be doing differently, when frankly there really is nothing he can or should be doing differently.  I don’t know what the future holds.

As for Jose Aldo, the man is great and I don’t want to belittle his victory. Aldo’s leg kicks  in round two, which caught Edgar were some of the most splendid I have ever seen and to catch someone as quick as Edgar with them, shows how talented Aldo is. However, there are five rounds in a fight and Aldo’s splendidness stopped way short after the second round.

Finally, I don’t want to give the impression that I believe Edgar dominated the fight. He didn’t. It was definitely close, but if we are judging on five rounds as we should, Edgar won 3-5, And if the UFC ever smartens up and makes a rule where the winner of the overall fight takes precedence, Edgar would have clearly won in that regard. Until then, pray that God doesn’t hate you.

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The Wine Revolution: Hedonists versus the Geeks

One of the first books I ever read on wine was a little ditty called “Wine for Dummies.” It was great.  Still is.  Of course, this was years ago and I would hope I am just a bit more advanced now, but there was a line I remember vividly reading that went something like this, “in the wine world there are two camps: the geeks and the hedonists….the geeks want to know about every iota of how the wine is made; the particular soils, the yeasts, the history, while the hedonists just want to eat, drink and be merry.”

At the time I remember thinking to myself that perhaps this was too general because even though I was a neophyte, I considered myself — and still do — right down the middle.  I love hearing about the particular geeky qualities of a wine and always enjoy the most thorough of conversations during a tasting (in fact in my tasting group I am always the one telling people to shut the fuck up and concentrate on the wine) but only for a little while.  The geeks – and there are plenty — who get so into the particularities of a wine and literally have nothing else in the world to talk about, bore the living hell out of me.  And that is why I am down the middle.  I love to eat, drink and be merry.  Being drunk on wine is amazing; by far the most philosophical of the alcohol beverages but not the one you want to have in an all-night party (which for me lately has not exceeded 2am in a long time).  On a side note, can you imagine a fight at a wine bar? Come to think of it, the last fight I got in was after a German Riesling tasting, but it was only loosely based on wine. Anyway….

The longer I spend working in the wine world, the more I have noticed that these two camps are pretty real.  For the sake of not having anything better to name them, let’s still use “hedonists” and “geeks” but this still does not sound right to me.  Perhaps a better term would be “old world” versus “new world” wine lovers, but as you will see, literally speaking this doesn’t make sense. because both sides have preferences that are not mutually exclusive:  the hedonists favorite wines are California Cabs and Pinots.  A close second would be Bordeaux followed by perhaps Brunello/Super Tuscans and then an amalgamation of some Australian wine and others.  Now you see why the term “new world” doesn’t actually make literal sense.  For the geeks, their preferences are always the same:  Burgundy is first (mostly red because except for Chablis — which smells like decomposed sea shells made love to an apple – they think the other whites are overpriced most of the time) followed by a mix of Champagne, Northern Rhone (Cote Rotie over Hermitage), Barolo and Barbaresco, German and Alsatian Rieslings and some Loire stuff as well as the occasional traditional Rioja like Lopez de Heredia.

It’s always the same thing, so much that when I meet a new customer who buys a particular wine from me within the first couple of categories and seems to know what they’re talking about, 9 times out of 10 I know I know what other wines I like and then wonder why I even bothered asking in the first place.

But, here’s where it gets tricky:  First of all, it is very rare to meet a wine geek who is into some of the wines from the “hedonist” category.  Yes, they might show some respect towards a handful of producers who are making great stuff (Arnot Roberts and Wind Gap in California come to mind) but the respect only goes into words.  Rarely, and I mean rarely will they make a personal purchase.  The same in a sense goes for the hedonists.  Perhaps they are more open to trying stuff from the geek category and will buy a bottle if you can sell them on it, but Burgundy in particular tends to be a sore spot.  Most of the time they can’t justify the prices and will always be able to rattle off a handful of California Pinot producers who are making better quality priced wines.  Barolo, Champage and Rioja will rarely be bought.  Northern Rhone hardly, (they normally prefer southern Rhone) and Rieslings, never.

How do we account for these differences?  Some would argue that “hedonists” are nothing more than rich guys who want to have a show off cellar stocking the most popular and up to date wines with big fat Parker points.  There is no doubt that this happens, but a lot of the time, believe it or not, it doesn’t.  A lot of Hedonists I have met actually know quite a bit about wine and can get pretty erudite in their talk. Some are even just as passionate as the geeks.  More so, the wines they tend to buy are not always the super jammy, over-extracted, Parker boy-toy wines we think they drink, let alone the commercial names like Opus One and Cakebread.  Most of the time, the wines they tend to go gaga for are ones that geeks would find pleasing if they had to drink hedonist wines such as some of the names rattled off up above like Arnot Roberts and Wind Gap. Further, the passion they have for collecting them and habit of consuming them can rival the geeks.  Yes, there is no customer like a Burgundy customer.  They will let their kids set their house on fire before being disrupted in a purchase of DRC, Roumier or Rousseau, but still, they can go wild.

So here’s the fascinating question that I am yet to have an answer to:  Are the passions in the hedonist camp, actually the same passions the geeks have, and if so, why is there a difference?  In other words, the hedonists understand thoroughly what it is that can suck about wine from time to time in the same way geeks do:  mass production, commercialism, lack of individuality; while sharing the same passions:  small production, artisanal craftsmanship, terroir specification, vintage variation, etc.

It would seem that both sides are short sighted. First off,  I have come to realize that there are good wines in the new world, and if I didn’t live in a one bedroom, my cellar would be 25%. End of story. For the specific hedonists I am referring to, they don’t see that it is not a coincidence that they like the same wines over and over again.  Take for example Arnot Roberts North Coast Syrah. This is a wine I have seen specific hedonists rave about while geeks speak about it with reverence.  It is a 11.5% alcohol, carbonic macerated Syrah for $35.  What’s not to love.  It’s great.  It truly speaks passion to California Syrah. It has a wild nose like one would expect from a Northern Rhone where the gaminess creeps into your nose and makes you want to kill and skin an animal while listening to the opening riff of Voodoo Child.  Yeah, that kind of gaminess. Further and most importantly, there is something about this wine that just feels right. As if one has tasted so many Californian wines before, admitted they were good but somehow didn’t feel as if they were truly representing California; then this $35 friend comes along and almost slaps you, telling you that the soils in CA are alive, majestic and the right person at the right time can make incredible things happen.

In conclusion, while it would be simple to say that Geeks need to grow up and start exploring the new world, while hedonists need to recognize terroir, I would prefer to defer to the Buddha:

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

 

 

 

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