As we begin this month of November C19-2020, some of us seems to be in a very ‘minor’ party mood, as we are now free to take a coffee sitting outside the cafecito, albeit on the pavement outside, masked up or not, and I know that up there in London dear old Guy Fawkes is about to re-attempt the destruction of Westminster’s finest wine cellars and depending in which zombie part of the world you happen to find yourself in today, I have also just learned that Rudi K is on a plane back to Indonesia having spent the last decade of his young life in the clink for blending up wine recipes to palm off to his chums in NYC, as the big stuff. The Orange skinned illiterate-buffoon is also probably about to take a shorter journey, this time to Sing-Sing Golf Club to learn how not to pick the soap up in the showers. I wish them all what they wish for as it’s all become a little bit sad and repetitive. So I am here not just to cheer myself up, and boy I need it as you probably do aswell, but I want to share some news and a plethora of good & great wines tasted, not to make you jealous of course, but to reflect on this last month’s vinous October-hibernation and observations.
However, before banging on about our favourite subject, wine! I want to just mention first that if you are a fan of Dickens’s Great Expectations (I am!), I feel it is my dire duty to warn you that there is a re-make of the story out there which you must avoid at all costs. The original story in both short and long version is still available in all good books shops and libraries. There is also the John Mills, as Pip, movie from the late 1940s that fits the bill perfectly, if you prefer the bigger screen that is. Sorry kids it’s in black & white and I have not seen it for decades but I am sure it is still out there somewhere. So now there is another piece of Hollywood rubbish let out from their kennels, in color and full of film people who would be better off selling chopsticks back to the Asians and signing autographed facemasks to be sent back from where they came from and at theirs, not mine, great expense. None of this has anything to do with wine or to do with us either, wether it’s this silly flu-plague-behaviour or not, it’s an Asian thing, had you not forgotten that, and my big question is, why on earth are we all copying them? Down here the Argies love the facemark and have now given the Chinese permission to build 25 pig (I cannot call them farms of course) factories. I will put my SLOW Food hat on later this month and tell you all about it. It’s the next big futuristic-horror animal-human bug story that nobody in their right mind needs right now or can afford to get involved with knowing what we all know now.
More importantly, and back to one of the greatest stories ever written, dear old Charlie Dickens, I bet no one ever called him that before, but I do believe it to be one of the most complete works of written-novel-art there is to be found to-date. Yes there is also Don Q and The Bible, your chosen books to include too, but Dickens here writes a simple story, of course complex at the same time, and offers us a wonderful scenery of the great human conditions, also still available if you are interested that is? Loyalty, Love & Affection, Conscientiousness and pretty much everything else contra to today’s money grabbing, classist and ‘pinchfart’ world that it would appear we still keep promoting and driving like hell towards at break neck speed. Aren’t we all just a little bored of this by now? It simply just does not work, infact did it ever work? When I read last week what the various heads of state offer their peers to drink at official state banquets, cocktail parties and the like, I was hit by how super-stingy they mostly all are. There where of course one or two exceptions, thank goodness, and one being Her Majesty The Queen of our Green & Pheasant Land. Even Boris Bojo, I read this morning, a big fan of Tignanello & Pizza. Has never heard of Bollinger? He was given a bottle of a Super-Hungarian wine by his equivalent in Sofia the other day, and it had to be destroyed by the SW1 Parliamentary Police as it breached Westminster’s MP corruption rules. Those rules being that there is a gifting limit of one hundred and forty pounds per pressie per politician. God knows what that bottle of Hungarian Tinto was, it must have been a stonker. I understand that the anti-corruption bit is aimed at preventing those politicians being over influenced in Britain’s decision making process.
So, 140quid is apparently the limit. A small jar of half decent Russian Caviar is 140quid, an Upper Circle ticket to Glyndebourne is 140quid, a light lunch for one at Medlar (SW3) can be 140quid if you stick to the house wine that is. Remember poor old Jonathan Aitken MP and that Parisian dinner he shared with his wife and some Arabs, followed by a night in The George Cinq all paid for by the Sheik YerCa$haround. Yes we all know he was sent down for Perjury and not the gift itself, which must have been a number a lot bigger than140. Down here, for some reason, there is only one reason anyone actually goes into politics. And that is to receive as many highly expensive gifts as possible including black & white and red bribes and also a bit of daylight robbery to boot. It’s called screwing one’s country’s economy so badly dry, that there just aint nothin’ left in the kitty, and they do all end up incredibly rich. Don’t cry for me Marge n’Tina being a good example of this, but of course most Latin American nations follow suit. Oh deary me, why on earth don’t they, the SW1 Political Police, keep all this 140quid gifted stuff safe n’sound and sell it off in an annual auction to pay for some poor buggers eye operation in Zvengali or Mozambique, or another good cause. I find it all totally stupid and Pinchfart to the highest degree that they just go and destroy all it. Reminds me of pouring 1000 bottles of table wine down the drain in Pimloco back in the 1980s when HM Customs & Excise could not verify wether the correct amount of duty was paid on the import. They would rather we poured it al down the drain and be done with it than coming to a mutual agreement. What a waste of good V de T. To continue on this theme of the general spirit of stinginess pre C19 or during-post C19 it happens to be all the same to me. In these quieter months one has had more time to reflect on what Pinchfart is and where it rests it’s stingy little head. I have certainly become more aware of a global stinginess this year. Yes, I do mean mean, and I do mean tight and even niggardly. I am not excusing myself at all of suffering from bouts of any of these conditions, as my analyst once would have reminded me, but I do have a sixth sense that was probably ingrained into me as having had one of those wealthy father’s, RiP, who penny pinched his way through life successfully. He never seemed to actually enjoy any of it, and I certainly did not want to repeat that style. In our local Roux eatery the other night, and we could almost now give it a Michelin star for its efforts by the way, for both their take-away/delivery service during the last C19 months of self-imprisonment, or for when one of the wealthiest men in this country happened to reserve the special room, for him and his guests to join in last weeks celebratory dinner. Now imagine this please. We are still in quarantine here since mid-March 2020 (258+days etc) and of course some restaurants have had the good sense to open up their private parts, sorry I mean private dining rooms for special clients, ‘protocal’ all in order of course. Now this fellow, there where six of them for dinner, asked for the wine list. There are infact two wine lists at Roux. The very good one and the extremely very good one. When you are at this level of gastronomikness in Buenos Aires you must list the best. The room was decked out in all the top, fancy? stemware (Zalto), bottled trendy hand soap at the ready, some nibbles and more nibbles on the house, a glass of nicely chilled welcome bubbles aswell. The fellow went an ordered one single stingy bottle (75cl) of Cobos Bramare Malbec, for all six of them. Didn’t they get thursty at all? It’s not a terrible wine, it’s just a non-discript wine that is available at any local wine merchant or good supermarket, almost like a decent house red for any bistro. The spirit of stinginess here just shone through so brightly I want throw a spittoon at the fellow full of lung-flem. I discovered just the other day in a piece from the 16th century English writer, Thomas Nashe, he used this wonderful word, and my new favorite word for 2020, Pinchfart! Yes you are correct I have been using the word before in this blog. Nashe was referring to a miser in his novel and used the word ‘Pinchfart’ to get the message over. I love it. It has kept me smiling for the best part of this last week, and I have been associating chums of mine who are all lesser or greater Pinchfarts and one or two to the extreme (they know who they are of course).
So where can we actually find Pinchfart in the wine world. Well it happens of course not to be so difficult as the wine trade on the whole breaths on Pinchfartyness. And before we go off on a tangent of Bill Koch;’s relation to Rudi K etc. firstly may I remind you of the opposite trait, still called though misguidedly understood as Generosity. I am sometimes told that I am, but I can tell you that I am not a bit, I lean towards Pinchfart. I just do what I can do, rather than not do what I can do, if you get my drift here. Someone who is happy to give time of day, sometimes money (but rarely of course), to give away food (fresh or cooked), kindness to people in need and not in need. Putting others before yourself we could say. Now if we go into the echelons of Statesman/woman and see what wine they pour their colleagues and chums at dinner time, you can also get a clear picture of who is Pinchfart and who is not Pinchfart. I know there is a Presidential election in United Mistakes of America this week and four years ago now that orange skinned Coca Cola drinker poured at his Washington inauguration dinner something called Black Stallion 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Do me a favour! and considering one of his predesecors poured Ch.Lafite-Rothschild at his first dinner. Albeit, Lafite definitely did not have the reputation as it does today, but Thomas Jefferson knew what he was doing, having spent all that time and most of his salary on French wines when he was the Ambassador there. A meal with Jefferson was always accompanied with good wine and good conversation, he certainly was not stingy. Another Yankie Prez poured, wait for it, Ch.Haut-Brion Blanc. I could not find the vintage but I was quite suprised to read that JFK thought it would go rather well with the Smoked Salmon starter at his inauguration dinner. What I find amazing is that he would have been pretty stretched out to find enough of it to pour (there are only a couple of thousand bottles made annually for the whole world that is) but let’s go back to Trumpypumpywumpy. What on earth is Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon? So I went off to investigate for you, and all that I came back with is that it was a $15 dollar bottle of red, with a woke horsey label on it. What a total Pinchfart. Back in the 1980s, I supplied, and was finally paid, a right-royal dinner at Buck-house. It was a state dinner for President Mitterand, and they poured my last stock of 1964 Ch.Latour in OWCs. It was reported back to me that the wine was so good that the Queen actually managed two glasses. She is not a drinker, as you may know, but my God she enjoyed those two glasses of Claret. At another HRH luncheon, the menu began with a steamed fillet of Halibut and Abinger Hammer watercress mousse (try saying that after a few glasses of their house pour, Pol Roger NV), Asparagus and a Chervil sauce, followed by new season Lamb from the Windsor Estate and a herbal stuffing, spring vegetables, and a Port sauce was drizzled. The pudding had to be a Strawberry Sable and Lemon Verbena cream. Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé non-vintage (NV) from Hampshire was served with the pudding and they swallowed copious quantites of 2014 Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot by Louis Jadot with the first course, followed by 1990 Château Lafite-Rothschild with the Lamb and Churchill’s 1985 Vintage Port to go home with. 170 luncheoners where present and I understand that 1.020 glasses where on the table at one time. Personally, I would like to congratulate HRH and her helpers for putting on such a fine show, very well thought out and definitly not stingy. All went home happy, nobody stole the cutlery and proper siestas followed. Bravo Maam!
When Angela Merkel and Mrs Obama got together they drank a good house German Riesling. When Mr Obama went to visit Mr Xi Jinping in Shanghai he was served Silver Heights Chardonnay, a local Chinese white that nobody had ever heard of. In Paris, when Macron(i) cheese and Jinping n’Tonic got together, it was reported that they drank bottles of R-C DRC and a good vintage or two of Petrus. But the photograph of them on the day shows a bottle of Ch.Cheval Blanc being quaffed. Nothing wrong with Cheval Blanc but why tell us another story, as if only to impress. We are not!
All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breasts.
All the Just, all the Evil
Follow her trail of roses.
Kisses she gave us and grapevines,
A friend, proven in death.
Salaciousness was given to the worm
And the cherub stands before God.
‘An die Freude’, Herr Schiller (1785)
Even Ivan the Terrible, the most eccentric of Russians Tsars was an incredible hospitable host. Lunches and dinners would go on for hours on end. Food, Russian of course and drink, Crimean & Georgian of course. Once the Swans were eaten, servants, in pairs, left the dining room and returned with three hundred fried Peacocks. The Peacocks were followed by Kulebyakas, Chicken pies, meat and cheese pies, all possible varieties of Blinis (+Caviar), pastries and fritters. The next change of dishes would have been even more amazing. The tables were laid first with meat jellies, followed by Cranes with spicy herbs, marinated Roosters with ginger, bone-free Chicken, and Duck with Cucumbers. Then there came different soups and three varieties of Ukhas, all to be washed down with some of the world’s, in those days Russia’s greatest wines. Oh to have been a guest.
If you are still with me dear reader, our chum Eduardo C. left here for a new life in Italy, last week and we needed to give him a good send-off dinner. Bring your best wine was the prompt, and this we did.
I cannot remember a dinner where like-minded folk, we were few and even in this dam quarantine, managed to get together and have a line up of such massive wines. Needless to say, it did take twenty-four hours to recover from the ordeal but I can tell you that every bit of after pain was worth it. How many times have you heard your self say that recently?
Now that my creative writing juices have all but expired, may I wish you all a tremendous November. Try not to freak out too much about this plague. As I mentioned to a chum the other day, this could just be practice for something coming towards us all that is a lot more boring. Keep your powder dry, your cellars full of new wines and avoid at all costs, Pinchfartness.
News about the latest Swine story will follow shortly.
“It can be tough to work with your ex … Especially when your ex is a pig.” Kermit