Musty Bunches - Tales from the Spit Bucket
Is there any industry more democratic than wine? From huge multinationals to filthy rich merchant bankers with six-figure bonuses to waste, anyone is welcome.
The latest newcomer to dip its toes in the corporate shark pool is a small family company called Disney.
Having amassed a small fortune in the mouse industry, the Disneys have decided to branch out into wine, and are working with the Mondavis, to create a 'wine experience theme park'. Despite being situated next to rodent-fest (i.e. Disneyland), some are still worried that the venture could turn into 'Vinopolis II' - London's wine museum that has become a white elephant to rival Dumbo.
The exact shape of the theme park remains sketchy at this stage, but the talk is all of interactive technology and touchy-feely Californian nonsense. So presumably visitors will get to understand the grape and its feelings before watching it being mercilessly crushed and turned into yet more unwanted Merlot.
As usual, all the old favourite Disney characters will be there. Punters will be able to listen to Mickey Mouse reciting maudlin poetry, brawl with a drunken Goofy and have a pointless argument with Donald Duck about the nature of existence.
Meanwhile, in her bohemian loft apartment, Musty poured herself a glass of Woodbridge to get in the mood and had a think about some of the films that the new wine-crazy Disney might release in 2001.
After five minutes, she tipped away the Woodbridge in favour of something drinkable and started again.
A humble young winemaker from California is apprenticed to an Italian sorcerer and learns how to invest a largely uninteresting wine with magic simply by giving it an unusual name.
The Three Muscateers
Three fruity young adventurers, Muscat Blanc, Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Ottonel set out to do battle with the evil Count Chardonnay who plans to take over the whole world. Their famous catchphrase: All for vin, and vin for all.
A thin, stalky wine dreams of being full-bodied and fleshy. In a neat twist on the original, every time he describes himself as a Burgundy, the complexity of his nose shrinks slightly.
The adventures of a Singaporean sommelier charged with finding a decent dry Gewurztraminer for his wine list.
Dry White and the seven dwarves
The beautiful Meursault has been sleeping for decades when she is woken up by seven workaday Chardonnays from the New World - Oaky, Fruity, Gooey, Cheapy, Chunky, Sickly and Malo.
Surely if it's a crime to try to pass off dreadful wine as quality stuff then most Burgundians should find themselves in the dock every year?
At the end of January, Musty was happy to don her glad rags and attend the annual dinner of the Caballeros del Vino in London - an organisation dedicated to honouring those who have forwarded the cause of Spanish wine over the years.
With crushing logic, it does this by throwing a lavish annual party and dressing up the various invested Caballeros' like members of the Spanish inquisition, complete with red capes and silly tri-corn hats. All in all, it is a neat summary of the mindset of Spanish wine: self-indulgent, spendthrift, introverted and rooted in the past.
This year saw the investiture of Señor Javier Hidalgo, of Manzanilla fame. Mr H was sworn in as a Caballero with all the necessary pomp and circumstance, and described not just as a great lover of Spain and Sherry, but a committed environmentalist with a great love of wildlife.
"It's true he loves animals," said Musty's neighbour dryly. "He's never happier than when he's out on a hunt."
Lastly, on the passing away of Seagram, Musty would like to offer up the following touching poetic epitaph to ease the corporate cadaver's journey into the underworld.
From Canada to Kowloon,
You sent Chivas
Down the spines
Of drinkers everywhere.
The millennium brought in
Brand new firms
With firm new brands
And you soon found
Your appeal was
And when it came,
Your demise was
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I promise it will all be hush hush.
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