Some Merlot, Pretty Damn Good After All

I’m one of them now.

I have, for a time, tried my best to distance myself from the ones that now surround me––considering myself to be an outsider for whatever duration I will remain in Los Angeles, or California as whole. But one cannot accomplish this. Not when wine is to be explored.

I joined Bevmo! It’s one of these chains of stores, selling all things alcohol, but wishing to be something more approachable. What a silly little store. But god bless them for having wines, nonetheless. The overall appearance was something more reminiscent of dust-on-top-of-a-bookshelf than I cared for. Above me, playing, was a terrible remake of a Parcel 41, 2009Gorrilaz song that I happened to admire. A song re-sung and accompanied by a flamenco guitarist is not a necessity in this world. There was an employee who looked to be weeping over some matter that was indecipherable to me. In short, it felt the very air around me was shouting, saying to pick your wine and get the hell out.

But what kind of investigator, what kind of writer, would I be if I simply left without poking around? I explored the sections. Some of the wines seemed fair, the others frightened my better subconscious, the part of my brain that knows an awful wine before consuming it. It’s this part of my brain I need to better attune myself to––for it plays lute music and dances carelessly into the evening.

It’s been several months since I’ve mingled with merlot. The time felt right, and there was a sale on a Parcel 41 merlot from 2009. Following a drought in the winter of 2008, California had a very wet Springtime, followed by a moderate summer and fall that greatly supported a robust season for vintners.

This was good and bad. There was a surplus of wines that hit the market. Those who made good wines put out their great wines; and those who made poor wines did the same. Both at their highest capacity.

2009 is a gamble for wines from Paso Robles and Napa, Santa Ynez. Yet the Parcel 41 should please just about anyone, I was pleased to find.

2009 Nine North Wine Company Parcel 41 – $17
The nose had little hope to it: there seemed to be an over-exhilarated sense of richness, jam, and simplicity.
However, delving into it, we found the wine to be nothing of the sort. Dark for a merlot. Its taste, quite agreeable; it’s mouth feel, like a satin liquid delving down deep into the back of your throat. Very nice, but lacking the sort of depth that causes one to praise a wine. It’s how it goes for merlot. But this was a great merlot, as opposed to so many others that lack even an iota of fun, of precision that the grape can exhibit.

After purchasing this wine, I had a group meeting with a new group of writers. We properly evaluated each others work (all at various stages of terrible, of course) and had chatted about What exactly is superfluous in screenplays. It turns out, bare bones is most welcome in today’s writing scene. We don’t have the time or patience for prose in bulk. Perhaps many of us are tired, or impatient, with the bullk of many things. Wine (especially) included.


Fancy a Costco?

Costco. Yes, I walked into one and found this kind of outstanding little setup. It was right in the middle of the store, seemingly being the fulcrum point for every shopper. I orbited the giant mass of alcohol with the same wavering anticipation as everyone else. Only I was in pure awe.

There was A LOT of liquor. By my estimates, the section took up nearly fifty-percent of store. That number may be exaggerated due to my severe reaction, which was a kind of shock––one kind of excitement only hedonists get when seeing something that can alter their state of mind.

To me, this was the equivalent of the cops coming to your house, sitting you down as you ask them “little Billy did what?”

Amazing to me, as I paraded up and down open crates of domestic and foreign wines with my mouth hung upon, was that I and I alone was the only one appreciating this. I looked in everyone last one of their damned faces and found…nothing. Worse than nothing: complacency. One of these people, a woman of screaming-three red heads, was able to pick up a bottle of Argentinian malbec in one blithe movement. This seemed to me to be a strange behavior that I have only seen some rare moments of my life.

One of these moments was at a family party, someone else’s family party that I had only joined only because I had happened to drop of a fruit cake my mother had sent me to deliver at the wrong time. I was escorted in and I was never to return in my original form. There, serving up a roast, was a newly made mother who served us stew. Attached to her breast, and puckering its lips so gently, was her baby suckling. So suave and confidant…and progressive, was this move! Only when you see such an action (to a repressed mind) is when you realize it was never wrong to begin with.

A second example is more lurid. But I can tell you it involves biological functions. No need for that, now. We have Costco to discuss.

Being from Utah, my Costco was sans liquor. I was never a fan of Utah’s liquor monopoly to begin with. And, we can be frank, no one but the state legislators have. But I’ve never cheated by the scheme until I walked into a California Costco. There was all this liquid gold at great prices they had centered right in the middle of the store; some of them even bothered to have the appearance of ‘something intriguing.’

And Costco provided this service? This selection? Surely, there have been tales…but nothing more than mere myths!

And, what’s this I hear from the rather fair and incorruptible woman from Member service? “The Kirkland old vin zin’s actually pretty god-licking-good.” Is this the wrong damn world I woke up in today? Did my mind and muscles get together before waking and unanimously decided “We’re going to let this guy have a good day today. I think it’s his time. He’s often sweet, despite his bad habits like leaving the cupboard drawer open without reason or leaving the toilet seat up. Or spending far too much time on…But let’s let those go for now.”

But we need to get back to Utah long enough to say:

“Hey, go to hell. And, although my home-sickness for you is damned crippling at the moment, you have disappointed me for the last time. I have exulted in the other side, and it would much too hard for me to depart with it now.

                                                                 Sincerely yours,”

I can do nothing but wag my finger from my new adopted state, but, rest assured, I am wagging it deeply and vigorously indeed(!). I could have left with many bottles. But money is strange conception in my life right now. It’s like this thing that existed, but I can’t quite remember the texture. It’s like putting your hand is silly putty and getting a shiver because of how wrong it felt, but, upon reflection, you can no longer recall the feeling after age twenty-five.

It’s also a lot like that dream you had last night. Don’t remember? It was the one about the cat, the hill and how you chased it…for…for..and then your Grandpa had this daisy, but it was…some damn color…and then your leg cramped, waking you up, just as you ran in a race where a dragon…

But I counted the twenty-four bills in my wallet, high-fived a random shopper with the shortest skirt I’ve ever seen, and went for it. My arms were soon humorously full of bottles…not to mention the Hayao Miyazaki film I saw on the way out, that I could not help but grab.

Now, had the woman up at member service somehow deceived me? Was this Kirkland old vin zin worth a divinity attributed zin worth writing mother a lengthy letter about? I had also taken a Argentinean wine for the obvious reasons; Argentinean wines are almost impervious to lackluster winemakers (Truth?). That, and the bottle looked hefty. The environmentalist in me hasn’t spoken with me since.

Two wines of interest follow:

2012 Bodega O. Fournier Malbec Urban Uco – $7
A nose that is both delicate an unpromising. It smelled Red.
In the mouth there is a hint of dissatisfaction when it comes to the sweetness. Granted, it is not overbearing, rather it’s a distraction. There is a presence of favorable wine essence that slithers its way across the palate. A good value for the $10 and under price that (at least Costco) sells it for. Worthy.


2011 Kirkland Signature Zinfandel Old Vine – $12
A solid nose with strong hints of oak and Fall.
Tannic, bold and strong. There’s a sense of unbalance, a taste of untidiness that is hard to explain. But I have to consider the following: it is very lip-smacking and quite enjoyable. Pretty damn enjoyable and easy. But you won’t be trying to get through the bottle by yourself. Worthy.

Scripting and Sipping

It was six weeks into a summer script workshop, and I had finished with a full-length script. Producing a story so close to you and so personal, and so quickly, is a sickening endeavor. It’s all rush and no relish. They say the real pulp of anything ever written comes from the editing. Which I have to agree with; there has never been so good a writer as to produce a classic anything without much excoriated readings and hours spent in front of a desk rewriting the damned tale.

Ernest Hemingway once said to “Write drunk; edit sober.” There’s a simplistic brilliance to this that only a writer can fathom or appreciate. How lonely, dark, isolated, self depreciating, moody, and bleak the life of storytelling can be. Yet, there you are, in your own world, exploring only what you have trekked before; but not just what you have experienced before, instead intertwined with a cacophony of innumerable other experiences and situations that all spiral down into you and your story. This is why every story, no matter if it’s been told time and again, will be told differently. You must wrangle it to perfection. You wrangle yourself.

It’s all enough to make a guy thirsty for a fine drink.

I found myself in the corner of the workshop’s room, inches away from the table and clutching my plastic cup firmly. I stood and pretended to listen once again to the basic formatting rules, of which I’ve known for years. It’s simple to come off as attentive and interested; you must simply keep eye contact and bob the head now and again. All very easy to do when sampling a wine, a delicious wine that’s as easy as Elvis’ “Sweet and Kind.”

Mouton Cadet Rothschild 2010, Bordueax – $10
– Inky like squid oil, red on the fringe of the cup.
– Smelled of game and leather and raspberry rolled together by soggy paper.
– Antiquitous with its plum and date flourish. Pepper in the back and leather in the finish, like liking a boot. Upper class boot, mind you. The wine gave a strong linger, not wanting you to forget its name before plummeting down.
Overall: Worthy. I expect this type of structure, finesse and saline quality from a twenty dollar Bordeaux, not a ten dollar bottle. Sturdy and true and aching to be drunk now.

After finishing this first glass, and another for good measure, I checked on the class. My head was nodding in beat with theirs, to my amazement. Wine, the great vibe synchronizer, I thought. That’s my cue for another bottle and another poor, minding the scowling look from one of the other writers. Jealous? Religious? Was it her wine and I was taking too much of it? The ceaseless wonders.

Jeriko 2011 Pinot Noir, Mendocino California – $18
– A frightening hue of amber and sick red with a mixture of water that’s been soaking in a piece of bark. This wine tends to be lighter, like a runny, true maple syrup.
– Smells of a fall romp. My excitement increased ten-fold. Game, Autumn mold and cranberry was also present.
– What a different pinot! There was a first initial scratch-ing of sweet that gently folded into a spicy mixture of holiday spices: cinnamon, peppermint and clove. I found myself transported to a young me sitting and watching the wood burning in the fireplace of my childhood home near christmas time. The sweetness soon escalated into a more serious, dilute sherry that turned out not at all cloying.
Overall: Worthy. I can hardly attest to this being called…a pinot of all things. But what other name shall it go by? “A Rose by any other name,” indeed. Suffice it to say, this is the Jerkio take on pinot and, hell, it is a lively number. It’s only weakness may lie in the sugar balance, a tad too sweet. I would not hesitate to pick up a bottle for myself.

Two young writers, whom I’ve noticed becoming suspiciously close to one and other over the last fortnight of workshops, stumbled in late. They looked like the climax of coitus personified. I didn’t mind the interruption, one of them had a bottle in hand! a large one! But I saw the label and sighed a little, even died a little. A Gallo Family wine. It was called “Sweet Red.” Cheeky. No list of grapes used. It may have killed me, but I was on a quest and I would try it at any rate. Intoxicated-evocation of the wine gods be damned!
Gallo Family Sweet Red, no  vintage – $12
– The wine was pink. PINK!
– It had a candy smell.
– It tasted like a lollipop laced with cocaine and melted, viscous 7-11 slurpee syrup.
Overall: I don’t even need to tell you. My, God.


Quote of the evening:

[preceding a very odd look]

“This wine is so good I could jump out the window, get up, and keep going.”

[The look]

“What? Doesn’t mean I’d do it. It’s just worthy of a good ole’ jump out the window. Surely you’ve had one? No? Really? Truly? You’re quite odd…”