Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 7-1-09; Wine Mystification

Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 7-1-09; Wine Mystification

Postby passetoutgrains33 » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:35 pm

No, i do not, But I am sure that you know someone, a friend perhaps, that would be willing to work with you, to help you out. Not everyone gouges, especially when they see talent - sometimes it is better to be associated with something than to directly/monetarily profit from it.
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 7-1-09; Wine Mystification

Postby Ken Schramm » Sat May 08, 2010 5:48 am

"Because of the drinking age, the demonization of alcohol in this country due to Prohibition and organizations such as MADD, and the resultant attitudes we have no wine culture."

Hi Lyle;

Late to the game, but I'd still like to make a contribution.

Agreed, American culture is immature. There is, however, a wine culture here. It is small, and less developed than that in Europe, but it does exist: you, Jon, Joe D., Eric A, Putnam Weekley here in Detroit, so many others. We taste and learn, taste and learn, taste and learn. Yes, most of us are left to do that because our parents did not imbue the knowledge of moderation, the role of wine with food, etc, but that will not keep us from helping our kids learn that, nor should it make us feel bad about our own process of sloughing off the ignorance. Here's to progress.

The role of Parker and WS in that assault on ignorance is not to be dismissed. True, there is oversimplification, but left to our own devices, many would simply choose to stick with beer and never challenge their own knowledge inadequacies. And in as puritanical a society as ours, the thought that you might be fleeced of your hard earned money by hucksters offering $5 wine behind a $50 label is abhorrent to lots of us. So we begin our journey from babe-in-the-woods to aficionado by arming ourselves with what seems like the best information we can assemble. Some of us are fortunate to live around the corner from Chambers St., to stumble onto a Lyle Fass, or to meet a Putnam Weekley or Chris Coad very early in the process. The rest of us are left to try to create some sort of order out of the ocean of wines we face. 100 point scoring systems seem like a life rope in stormy seas to these folks. At a bare minimum, I offer my admiration to all who venture away from the Bud Light and dip their toes into that water.

It is all about developing a filter set. Even discarding out of hand the wines of the mega-swill factory producers, there are so many thousands of labels out there that none of us outside of the wine trade has anything close to the amount of time and capital needed to familiarize one's self with even a tiny fraction of what is available. Consequently, the role of critics, sales people and guides becomes paramount. Even though RP and WS may be so ostentatious as to present themselves as end-all vehicles for wine edification, those who truly seek to reach the heights attainable would be well served not to deride them or their followers, but rather should simply view them in the same way great violinists might view their time spent on the Suzuki method - an early, useful, developmental stage. Put another way, all input is good input, and as we become more educated, we need to build filter sets for the filter sets.

I don't put RP in the set of influences I see as dumbing down our culture. WA is a pull medium, and anyone who pulls is not interested in becoming dumber. This is not to say that dumbing down is not happening. Mega business has a huge interest in the undiscerning customer. The analogy with audio can be extended to visual media, as well, where the ability to produce beautiful, thoughtful, high definition material is being countered with unscripted reality programs, compressed into mush, only to be regurgitated onto a 3" screen on a hand held player. 140 character tweets do as much for intelligent thought.

So, Vive la Pull. This very board is a part of the young forest that is our nascent wine culture. When you're trying to grow a forest, available nutrient/bio-mass is way more important than pruning. Let us encourage all outlets for people to educate themselves.
Ken Schramm
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 7-1-09; Wine Mystification

Postby sweetstuff » Sat Nov 13, 2010 1:21 am


Perhaps this thread is played out. it's certainly been full of generalizations and characterizations, perhaps unavoidably. Maybe a way to correct this would be to each of us share something about our own motivation for originally exploring wine.

In my case, the mystery writer Rex Stout might be important. This would certainly make me one of the elitist-based wine explorers. Rex's detective characters Nero Wolfe, a Pickwickian Montenegrin orchid-growing gourmand, and his assistant Archie Goodwin, of Columbus, Ohio, originally, were part of the emerging New York wine scene , with its consciousness of all things French, as it appeared immediately post world war one and were drinking classed-growth Bordeaux and very old Hine cognacs during Prohibition, and on through the seventies. Wolfe's love of food and wine had its basis in his early life in Austria and other places in Europe, and he had a thorough grounding in classic French cooking, to the extent of employing a full-time chef to supervise his kitchen, where he often sent to arcane places and persons (some even artisans in the United States) for offbeat ingredients for a recipe. (As a matter of fact one of Wolfe's scholarly/lliterary papers presented to a society of food critics around the end of the 1940s was a spirited defense of the idea that great cuisines existed in the United States in the form of some of its best but perhaps overlooked foods, and not just in Europe or China. That's some time before the 'invention' of 'Classic American Cuisine' around the turn of this century, no?)

The dishes mentioned as being eaten by these characters in their home/office, and at a fictional 'best restaurant in New York', Rusterman's, are all familiar to the French chef of then and even today.There was also a cookbook published as a sort of add-on to the series, giving a good genuine recipe for all the mentioned dishes.

Wolfe was a foodie who loved wine, not a wino who then got into food. As a matter of fact, deplorably, he was addicted to bottled American beer of the most common sort, dating from the days when he could no longer purchase barrels of strong beer to lager in his cellar because of the onset of Prohibition. However, his mention of food and wine caused me both to read and to experiment in the kitchen, and I to this day still love to do so.

But at the same time I began to keep my eyes open for sources for European wines such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Riesling from Germany, and Tokaji, all of which were mentioned by Stout. I remember finding a 1976 Lascombes (of the Alexis Lichine era) in a drug store in the neighborhood that dabbled in wine; I brought this home and was absolutely fascinated by the smells and tastes that came out of that bottle. Other experiments followed: A half-bottle of a negociant villages Chablis from 1976, and then some '76 Sauterneses; and, wonder of wonders, one day my brother in law,who had moved to California and become part of the wine scene there in the early seventies, showed up at my doorstep in Roseville, Michigan with two 1970 St-'Juliens: A Beycheville and a Leoville-Las Cases. Then I was irreversibly hooked on late-harvest German wines by the discovery of a Beerenauslese from the Nahe, a Kreuznacher Vogelsang Optima Beerenauslese made by one of the Anheuser cousins, and I went through about three full bottles of that. In addition, I was absolutely stunned by a simple regional red Burgundy, now one I know to jave been good but quite simple: a Latour 1978 Bourgogne, and not long thereafter, a white Burgundy: a DuBouef Pouilly-Fuisse from the same vintage. I've never looked back. What for me was the exploration, first as a sort of a young snob of a bookworm, of European wine and food, became a dive into the European life-style. I became a denizen for decades of such Detroit establishments as GIbbs Wines, Cost Plus Eastern Market WIne Warehouse, and Dick Scheer's now threatened Village Corner, who sold me my first Dönnhoff (a 1985 and my first Muller-Catoir, a 1986 that was way too vivid for my tastes at the time.

Now I spend as much time in Europe as I can, go there repeatedly and for as long as I can afford to stay, and really am looking to enjoy three things there; the food and wine, of course, and the people. I suppose those three things are the basis, in a sense, of what we call culture.

America is quite a strange phenomenon. I'm not sure I understand yet why it's so different from Europe; but immigration is a survival experience even more severe than the slow starvation of a peasant family in the old country, and immigrants must completely reinvent themselves, even with all their efforts to hang on to the cultures where they originated. Perhaps that has something to do with the subject of the present thread, and also perhaps that the sanitary sewer was employed in this country almost from its first settlements; therefore, you didn't need to drink beer and wine to avoid facing the choice of either dying of thirst or from cholera. Perhaps the need to transport corn products in almost impossible wilderness circumstances to the cities where they could be sold was a reason, too, with the necessity of the wisky trade coming from that fact.

And that's all I'm going to say on that subject. Maybe if Madeira hadn't been wiped out by Oidium and Phylloxera, things might have been different after the Civil War. We'll never know.

Best wishes,
a former client of yours at Crush,
John Trombley
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Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 7-1-09; Wine Mystification

Postby ericlgraham1974 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:16 am

Very interesting.
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Location: Liberty, Missouri, USA

Re: Lyle Fass – Word on the Street - 7-1-09; Wine Mystification

Postby jorjastandish » Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:22 pm

Thanks for this useful information!
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