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Out in the Big World:  I haven’t done one of these posts in quite some time.  Not sure why.  A lot of things have transpired since last I freestyled.  The world has lost some celebrities, there have been bombings and murders and crooked politicians and – oh wait, not much is different really.

I’ve been dreading writing this post primarily for what happened in Boston and in Texas.  Macrocosmically, it was a horrible, horrible week the past two weeks. And with all of the madness, you’d think the guys on the Hill would want to make their constituents safer.  But all you here is a whole lotta special interest posturing, on both sides of the fence, and only a few brave individuals looking to bridge the gaps and bring the country together.

Now I am sure I have just whipped up a partisan shitstorm with the previous paragraph, but in a time where it seems that evil is all that is happening in this world, shouldn’t we as citizens of this fine planet band together to stand up for what is good and decent?  Maybe I am being too “New-Age-y” or something, but I feel like, at least here in the states, the time to be either extreme-left or extreme-right is over, and the time for being one Nation is now.

On the homefront: My wife has been sleepwalking a lot lately.  And it seems like my patience just went into a state of permanent hibernation.  I’ve been a rabid bear around the house and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.  At present, my job situation is the best it’s been in years.  I can honestly say that I have never been this happy with my state of employ.  Yet when I get home, it’s just GRRR! ROARRR! ARRGGH!

What is wrong with me?

I have a good woman in my life.  The best.  She has been a rock for me, despite how sick she has been.  I have been the biggest A-hole ever.  She doesn’t deserve that.  I guess I have come to realize that what I have been doing is overprotecting her.  Always afraid something bad is going to happen to her, I am creating a state of self-fulfilling prophecy at home, and it’s just not good.

Since coming to terms with the overprotectionism, things have quieted down.  I am giving her some space.  She is still having health problems, but instead of me being a smothering vulture, asking her every 2 seconds if she’s okay, I am trying to figure how to take care of her without being so overbearing.  And I am trying to keep the bear locked in a cage somewhere far away.

On another subject entirely, 26 years ago today, my father, Larry Thomas Keith, left this world for the next one.  It continues to blow me away that my father has been gone from my life longer than he was in it.  At 46 years old, he died at the age I am at right now.  He was a brilliant man who suffered with a severe form of diabetes.  It wasn’t perfect, so it only stands to reason I am, in that regard my father’s son.  I wonder though what he would think about where  ended up in life, what I chose to do for a living, how he would feel about my wife, etc., etc.

I think most often though about what he told me when I was young, about technology.  He used to say, “son, if you don’t know how to use a computer when you get older, you’ll be lost.”  What would he even think about smartphones, iPads, Facebook, Twitter?  I think he’d crap all over his floppy disks, that’s what I think.

I know at least, he would be glad I was happy, and that he would love my wife very much.  We’d share a laugh at how farcical my life had gotten during the rock ‘n’ roll days, and how stupid I became after that.  He’d be glad I went back to college and got the degree he didn’t get, though he’d probably point out I was a dumbass for majoring in English.

If he were alive today, he’d be 72 right now.  Yet he isn’t.  He is somewhere else, be it Heaven or elsewere, with a new family, new hopes and dreams.  I can only hope he remembers his son, his daughter (my sister), and his wife (my mom), at least the impression that despite all the drama, we were a family, united, loving and one.

Wines Tasted This Week(s):  199.

The Standout(s):  All of the Bello Family Cabs.

What is on my playlist?: More Alice in Chains.  More David Bowie.

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Alpha Box and Dice Mistress 2009.  Chateau St. Georges 2009.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  Jack Micheline

What’s on tap for this week?:  Trying to catch up on the overabundance of samples, various sundries from the likes of Jellybean, CIV USA and One Hope, and who knows what else.

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It’s been three weeks since my last confession, er, installment of the Backward.  Between travelling and the standard domestic chaos, I’ve been a little busy trying to keep up with everything.  And staring at the stockpile of samples sitting anxiously upon the table in the TPS Tasting Studio, there is no cessation of besotted meanderings ahead.

I continue in my bewilderment at both the blogosphere and the standard-bearing print media of wine, and wonder with astonishment in how the debate persists that the old vanguard is a dinosaur and the new blogger elite is poised to take over.  I remember when I used to travel down that avenue of thought.  But the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I’ve said recently I won’t really get involved in the debate, and I have grown tired of strutting around like a steroid-induced rooster, grousing about the evils of the folks in print media like Steve Heimoff from Wine Enthusiast or Charlie Olken over at Connoisseur’s Guide – writers I have grown to really respect.

I think back to an email conversation I had with Thomas Matthews from Wine Spectator when I first started blogging, just 5 years ago (which feels like a friggin’ eternity now); the argument, albeit a civil one, about wine ratings, and that there really should be a better way to convey to consumers the quality of a particular wine, however arbitrary it may be.  These days my perspective seems a bit more forgiving – it takes more than one tool to build a house (just like it takes more than one tool to be on Fox News, but I digress…).

It does seem like a lot of bloggers look for a fight.  Not a good way to attain any level of respect, now that I think about it.  I certainly was guilty of posturing for the sake of adding “hits” to my site.

These days, I find myself doing what I initially set out to do – chronicle all the wines I taste as part of my job as a retail wine buyer, offer unique observations about this crazy business, and in some way, shape or form, illustrate how it relates to me personally, and the world around me microcosmically; after all, this is a local wine blog.

There are thousands of wine blogs out there, all clamoring to get noticed – that is nothing new.  And there is still a strong contingent of wine writers out there actually making a living at it, still offering insightful commentary in a business that is constantly changing.  There is room for everybody.

Wine Reviewed: 152 wines in 3 weeks, plus 1 beer, 1 spirit, and a lot of uncounted wines from #DefendAustralia Symposium and the CIWF!

Wine of the Weeks: There were quite a few from the #DefendAustralia symposium…

Good news in the wine biz: My favorite metal band launches a new brew.

Bad news in the wine biz:  We lost some major figures in the wine world in Jim Barrett and Henri Krug.

Disturbing news in the wine biz: More on the aforementioned debate… And not sure how to feel about the Anne Gros-Diageo dealWine Advocate sues Antonio Galloni

On the homefront: I find myself becoming less and less enraged by politics.  Call me whatever, but the constant bickering between parties sounds more and more like two spoiled little brats fighting over one toy.  Fire the whole lot of them, I say.  But in the grand scheme of things, it all seems such bullshit when I have a wife at home fighting through poor health on a daily basis.  This is in no way a pity party for either of us.  This is just about perspective.

It’s easy to lose perspective in the midst of life’s little challenges.  You have a bad day at work, flat tire on the freeway, you bounce a check or miss a payment – it all becomes moot when you are watching your spouse getting loaded into the back of an ambulance.

I was reading this morning about a little girl who, after her father careens down a ravine, 200 feet, and is severely injured and unconscious, trapped in their Ford Escape, crawls out of the car, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, all of 9 years old, and tries to find help for her injured dad.

She wasn’t able to find help in time, but she never doubted the fact of what she had to do, and she is just 9 years old!

We whine and complain about petty shit all the time, yet when the chips are down, and we’re faced with real-life-and-death shit, we have two options:  bitch about it, or do something about it.

And when it comes to politics, you can bitch about your elected officials, but bottom line is, you voted for these dunderheads, whether in a primary or in the general election.  It’s no wonder politics are a mess.  And it’s no wonder I no longer worry about it.  As the old adage goes, I have bigger fish to fry.

What is on my playlist?: Newsted, Parliament Funkadelic, The Who

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: First Drop Half-N-Half 2010, Dandelion Shiraz-Riesling Lion’s Tooth of the McLaren Vale 2010, Breca Garnacha 2010

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  Anything Walt Whitman

What’s on tap for this week?:  A shitload of samples from Pedroncelli, Chapoutier, Bibi Graetz, Arizona Stronghold, The Crusher, Vine Street Imports and so much more.




The debate about the alleged death of traditional wine criticism continues, as Jon Bonne from the San Francisco Chronicle and Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast weigh in on opposite sides, and it is something of a bemusement to me anymore.  I have been at this little blog for almost 5 years (my anniversary comes up ironically on April 1st of this year) and in my humble beginnings I was one of those dimwitted singalongs that jumped on the bandwagon proclaiming traditional wine criticism (like the kind found in Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate) as being a tired, old medium, antiquated by the Godzilla-like behemoth that wine + social media seemed to be at the time.

I guess as I became a bit more settled in the mudfest that is the Wine Blogosphere, I began to realize that we bloggers are simply a big swarm of mosquitoes, buzzing in the ears of the consumers, a cacophony of opinion that tends to run together, like listening to concerts by Megadeth, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Zac Brown Band at the same time, drunk and stoned to boot.  Just a bunch of noise.

And while there have been some real voices emerge from the aforementioned mudfest – like Joe Roberts over at 1 Wine Dude, the cocksure bravado of Wine 2.0 purveyor Gary Vaynerchuk, and such wine writing auteurs as Samantha Dugan, Alfonso Cevola, Jeremy Parzen and the good folks over at Catavino, the writers of Wine Spectator and the like are still plugging along.

Sure, Wine Advocate has been going through some changes as of late – Parker selling off, his heir apparent Antonio Galloni moving on, etc., etc. – but that is in no way the death knell of professional wine criticism.  More like much ado about nothing, if you ask me.

What the Internet gives us is not a replacement medium, but an additional platform for consumers and wine geeks to gather, share ideas and ideals, vent a little, and open up new avenues of discussion and discourse not available to previous decades.

I think back to my childhood, and how my dad, a modest visionary when it came to technology, would always talk to me about computers – “son, if you don’t know about computers and how to use one, you are going to be lost.  It is the way of the future.”

He used to lug his office computer home, which at that point was about as big as a standard 25 inch TV, clunky and difficult to carry for one person.  He’d have it in the front seat of his car, and schlep it into the house every evening, with a box full of floppy disks (remember those?), and try to get some work done before I would hijack it and mess around with simple DOS programs.

I stare at my laptop and my smartphone and think to myself, “Dad would really be pitchin’ major tech wood, right about now.  He would be in high heaven.”

Yet I digress.

I have drifted beyond blowing up the comment sections of Steve Heimoff and Wine Spectator, and instead settled on writing about what I love about this business, and leaving all the bullshit to all the other hundreds of thousand mosquitoes out there.

Wine Reviewed: 181 wines in 2 weeks!  No wonder I feel tired.

Wine of the Weeks: Bosques des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape Chante Le Merle 2011, Domaine de la Cote de L’Ange Chateauneuf du Pape Tradition Rouge 2011, Domaine de la Charbonniere Chateauneuf du Pape Hautes Brusquieres Rouge 2011, Notarius Cabernet Sauvignon Heart Arrow 2010, Chateau Cheval Brun Saint-Emilion 2009.

Good news in the wine biz: It’s Washington Wine Monthsomething cool for Indiana wine fans…and it took us long enough

Bad news in the wine biz:  The latest from the rumor mill

Disturbing news in the wine biz: People will do anything to get high

On the homefront: The usual stuff continues to percolate at home, as it does for all of us.  The nitty-gritty, day-to-day stuff of wondering how to pay the bills, how your loved ones are doing, are they safe, are they healthy?  Sitting at home, watching the news, you get the feeling the sky is imploding and everything around you is caving in on itself, like God just stuffed His own head up His ass, and like an ostrich, just hides from the impending dangers barreling forth.

Like so many of you out there in the ethers, I find myself looking more at the bad stuff, and often overlooking the good.  So many folks out there in the world have it way worse than I and I count my lucky stars whenever I manage to put down the pity-party remote and recognize it could be a helluva lot worse.  It’s so easy to get lost in the rhetoric of one’s own negativity.  And having the 21st Century, postmodern clarion call that is the news on your television set is enough to lock you permanently away in shitstorm prison.

I am lucky enough my wife and I have a herd of felines to keep us from losing what is left of our minds.  We can take a breath, turn to our cats, and watch them with loving fascination as they roll around the floor, chase their tails and each other, and act as if mysteriously goosed by the random spectral presences that meander throughout our home, sneaky interlopers bearing the occasional laughtrack to an otherwise uninteresting parade.

What is on my playlist?: Jeff Buckley, Tribe Called Quest, Jimi Hendrix

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Chateau Beauchene Viognier Cotes du Rhone Grand Reserve 2010, L’Aurore Macon-Chardonnay Les Beluses Lieu-Dit 2009.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  David Foster Wallace, OBLIVION.

What’s on tap for this week?:  A whole heckuva lot of catching up with wines from Raymond, The Crusher, + Spanish wines, Kentucky wines, and a prelim report from the Vine Street Imports trade show in Philly.

commentary recap



Recently, Tom Wark posted on his renowned Fermentation blog a little something about the latest wine and spirits shenanigans in my own state of Kentucky.  The shenanigans in question pertains to wine being sold (or not) in grocery stores.  It’s funny that as half-cocked as I have gone off on a smorgasbord of different subjects over the years, I am extremely reluctant to say anything either way on this particular subject.

I work for a major wine retailer in the state.  And my complete and undivided loyalty is with my employer.  Yet I grew up in Ohio, which from my work is just a really long swim across the river into downtown Cincinnati, and in Ohio, you can by wine at any grocery store.  There are dozens of mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar wine shops in direct competition with these grocers, and everyone gets along fine.  There isn’t the mad rush of tweeners storming the groceries there for a bottle of Yellow Tail.

I see it all as more opportunity for competition.  And more opportunity to kick the competition’s ass on a daily basis.  Regardless of how I feel, I am and will always be on the side of my boss – I am a loyal employee, and I mean that sincerely.  And that’s all I have to say on that subject.

Wine Reviewed: 40 + 5 beers.

Wine of the Weeks: Kuleto Native Son 2009.

Good news in the wine biz: Good news for Antonio Galloni…

Bad news in the wine biz:  Tough break for Wine Advocate

Disturbing news in the wine biz: Thanks for that bottle of White Zinfandel, Ishka Bibble

On the homefront: I am travelling a bit over the next couple of weeks, much more than I normally do – which is almost never.  Given my circumstances at home, travelling presents a lot of challenges.  Cooking multiple meals for the wife.  Getting the cat boxes prepped so she won’t have to clean them that much.  Having her pills together.  Prepping multiple beverage cups.  She doesn’t get around very well, yet I am also paranoid and worrysome when it comes to my wife.

She would tell me I need to take a valium.

So I am headed to New Orleans this week.  And I am hoping to make it to Philadelphia in two weeks, but we’ll see.

What is on my playlist?: Radiohead, Alabama Shakes, Soundgarden, R. L. Burnside

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Some Young Punks The Squid’s Fist 2011, Oak Valley Chardonnay Elgin 2011.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  David Foster Wallace’s OBLIVION.

What’s on tap for this week?:  Wines from Raymond, a visit to De Wet’s Toast of Kentucky warehouse in Paris, KY, a smorgasbord of international wines, a review of Terry Thiese’s new movie, and a road trip to one of my favorite places of all time, New Orleans.

commentary recap



The world around us, in all its microcosmic and macrocosmic glory, ebbs and flows circumspectively, yet every so often, you can still be surprised.  Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this year, but New England would never have known that after this past weekend’s blizzard.  And who really saw Pope Benedict’s resignation coming.  Last time a Pope called it quits was what, in the 1400s?

But for every surprise, there is another day of partisan bullshit in D.C., and North Korea is nuclear testing again.

Really it’s business as usual here on planet earth.

Here at the Party Source, it seems like the January doldrums have been shaken off and we are eagerly anticipating our expansion, and in the wine department, we’ve been sprucing up several categories that have been a bit unsung as of late (Argentina, Chile, Spain, Australia).  A very exciting time if you are a wine geek like myself.

Wine Reviewed: 18 + 40 blind at the wine festival judging.

Wine of the Weeks: Flora Springs Trilogy 2008.

Good news in the wine biz: Good news for South African wines.  Also, for Washington State wines.

Bad news in the wine bizDepending on your point of view

Disturbing news in the wine biz: Don’t call it a cult Cab

On the homefront: My wife has been having a tough go of it this past week.  She has a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis which is sort of like acid reflux to the nth degree.  It is one of a laundry list of conditions from which she suffers, and as a husband, I want to do something for her to help make her feel better.  Yet there are times when all you can really do is let her know you are there, try your best to comfort her, and pray.

As someone who isn’t all that religious, prayer is a strange bedfellow.  You feel somewhat awkward talking to God as if you are trying to ask the prettiest girl you knew back in high school to prom, knowing she dates the starting quarterback – you sense the impending rejection.  Maybe it isn’t suppose to feel like that, but I find it that way pretty much every time.

Looking at things from a glass-half-full perspective, I guess I could say life really is an unexpected journey.

What is on my playlist?: Bob Marley, David Bowie (when am I not listening to Bowie), Badfinger, ELO

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Breca Garnacha 2010, Elk Cove Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010, Foris Pinot Gris Rogue Valley 2010.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  Samantha Sans Dosage and Hosemaster of Wine.

What’s on tap for this week?:  Some Frenchies, Pinot Noirs from Row 11, the wines of Evening Land, Kuleto, Raymond, and an odd assortment of many others.

commentary recap



What always strikes me as funny anymore is the use of the phrase “white death” when talking about snow around here.  Obviously, folks have forgotten what REAL show accumulation is like.  These days you get an inch or two on the ground and people think it’s the end of the freaking world.  Yet I remember back in 1978 – I was 12 – when snow was so deep, my dad literally shoveled the snow from the front door and dumped it in the garage in order to tunnel out to the car to go to work.  We – my little sister and I – were off school for about 2 months.

White death indeed.  Folks need to live in Cleveland, or the UP in Michigan, or hell, up in the Yukon Territory.

Wine Reviewed: 89 (two weeks worth)

Wine of the Weeks: Vieux Telegraphe 2007

Good news in the wine biz: 14 Hands Winery in Prosser.  A new film by Terry Thiese.

Bad news in the wine biz:  Wirtz, Charmer and Glazer’s make the rest of us nervous

Disturbing news in the wine biz: Constellation/InBev fracas.

On the homefront: It has been a rather mundane two weeks at the Keith household, which I tell you people, is a good thing.  The biggest issue really is just still getting used to my role at The Party Source.  I think I am one of the family finally, but it still feels as if I am the newest spouse and I am still trying to mind my manners, not say the wrong things, and try really hard not to fart in front of the womenfolk.

In a few weeks, I will be headed down to New Orleans for a meeting of the Wine & Spirits Guild, my first time going, and I am pretty excited about my new responsibilities.  It’s a lot different in the big leagues, I tell ya.

What is on my playlist?: A lot of David Bowie, some old Mountain, and revisiting some Chris Whitley.

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2010, Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose NV.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  The latest Wine & Spirits.

What’s on tap for this week?:  Just a whole lotta stuff – wines from Brassfield and Flora Springs, a visit from Willamette Valley Vineyards, a bunch of social media ideas, and Lord only knows what else.

commentary recap


Dog Sled Ride

So here we are, in 2013.  Surviving another end of the world scare (if you could call it that), we’ve transitioned into a new Year, rife with new beginnings (or more of the same ol’ same ol’ if you are one of my more conservative friends, I guess).  As many of you who follow along already know, I am still getting comfortable in my new gig, happy as Hell to have found a solid place to land here at The Party Source, and am humble and appreciative to be working with one of the best in the business, Ms. Mary Valle-Dorr, who prior to the past six months, had been my biggest nemesis.

Fast forward to now, and I feel like a lot of the crap I was feeling about the old gig is pretty much gone; I have bigger fish to fry as the adage goes.

So my goals this year have certainly shifted, and despite having to sort of reinvent myself professionally, I have rededicated myself to the business of wine.  I want to learn how to deliver the goods much better now that I am here at TPS, figuring out ways to better reach our customers, better inform our customers, and better serve our customers.  Learning how to more effectively utilize the tools we currently have at our disposal, such as email, Facebook, Twitter and the like.  Of course, the big plan is to kick off Party Source Web TV, a video show that features all of our departments, and all of our staff, doing what they do best – serving our customers and talking about what they love most – the art AND science of entertaining.

Pretty lofty stuff, right?

I feel pretty fortunate to have ended up here at TPS.  I was looking at a lot of other options.  Most of them involved relocating to other parts of the country.  I had sent resumés to places in Washington State, Indiana, Texas and New York.  I was thinking about opening my own distributorship.  I had even entertained the idea of getting back into the restaurant biz (that’s how desperate I was to change things up).  In the end, I wound up here at TPS, which I feel now was where I was headed all along.

Wine Reviewed: 23 (29 if you count those three I reviewed thrice each)

Wine of the Weeks: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon Stylus 2005.

Good news in the wine biz: Anything Hosemaster posted… (as always).  Charles Smith gets bigger.

Bad news in the wine biz:  Yellow Tail is having money woes.

Disturbing news in the wine biz: Not sure if this is good or bad – Guy Fieri is getting into the wine biz.

On the homefront: Wife ended up with another concussion.  I swear the good Lord must’ve made her skull out of metal, because the Wifey Concussion count is up to 13.  We were supposed to attend the wedding of a friend this weekend, but she hadn’t been feeling well and in her rushing around, must’ve blacked out and fell backwards, hitting her head pretty hard again.

There is nothing worse than coming home to find your wife lying on her back, completely unresponsive.  She has given me many close calls over the years.  I think that’s why my beard is graying.  It’s been a rough several months at home, with her sick, and the house seemingly breaking down little by little.  It’s not that I am crying about it – I mean, this morning I was listening to the radio, and the commentator was discussing a Chinese woman who survived the Chinese Cultural Revolution, forced to eat what amounted to shit sandwiches while interned in a re-education camp until she was exiled to America, and though penniless and uneducated, has become a successful tech purveyor, all through sheer will and determination.  She had it rough.  Stripped of everything, and yet she still succeeded.  I am thankful for what I have, believe me.  I’ve hit a rough patch is all.  We all do from time to time.  If every day in life was a cake walk, we’d all be billionaires.  It’s the rough times that make us stronger.  And it’s surviving those times that make us better.

What is on my playlist?: the new David Bowie and the new Alice in Chains.

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Pehu-Simonet Brut NV, K Vintners Viognier 2011, and Dunham Syrah 2009.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume One.

What’s on tap for this week?:  Those damn Ramon Bilbao wines I keep forgetting about, a mélange of languishing sample bottles from the Studio, a bit of Australia perhaps, and reconnecting from old friends and colleagues.


commentary recap


Election Day is over.  Thank God!  My condolences to all my friends and family living in Ohio, who were living in political purgatory with the amount of political ads running on TV and the radio every day.  And whether you voted for one candidate or the other, now is the time to put aside our differences and work together, yeah?

Easier said than done I know, but like with any team, you have to address each others’ differences and learn how to utilize them to make a better team.

I really have to thank and apologize to my team this past week as I am one of the folks around here who fell prey to this virus going around.  I have been sick as Hades for days now, having to bow out of helping my comrades at the annual Taste of the World we sponsor at the Newport Aquarium.  Being the new guy, I want to set a good example, a good tone to my tenure here, but I took myself out of the game because I didn’t want to spread my germs, so to speak.  And I laid out of work again this past Monday, still sick, despite 2 new guys starting in my department.  The irony is that I showed up Tuesday, feeling even worse, but recognizing missing another day wasn’t an option.  And today, after a bit of hacking up groovy green stuff in the bowl before my shower this morning, I am in on my day off.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but then when have I ever.

Wine Reviewed: 6 (gotta be a record low)

Wine of the Weeks: La Joya Syrah 2010.

Good news in the wine biz: Good news for my friends at Chateau Ste. Michelle…

Bad news in the wine biz:  You know it’s bad when Huffington Post chimes in…

Disturbing news in the wine biz: Anyone who has worked in restaurants or retail – myself included – have been guilty of this bad behavior.

On the homefront: I have a lot to be thankful for in my life – the love of a good woman, a roof over my head, an awesome job and a kick ass boss.  (Did I cover all the bases?)  Despite being sick, I’m good.  Will really suck if in fact December 21st is the end.

What is on my playlist?: Believe it or not, Muse.  I really like the new stuff.

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Montes Purple Angel 2010, Arizona Stronghold Dala Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Doyard Brut NV.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  Nothing at all.  Can’t bring myself to pick up a book at home.

What’s on tap for this week?:  THOSE GUILD WINES, another Planet Bordeaux Twitter tasting, a wine tasting face-off with my boss, M., and a hodge-podge of leftover samples I need to clear out before the year’s end.


commentary recap


Tomorrow is Election Day.  Let the pundits have their fights.  I will not address that mess here.  Instead, as the Wine Enthusiast unleashes their Top 100 Cellar Selection list for the year, and the countdown to the Spectator Top 100 is imminent, I wanted to talk of my own little Top 50 list, due out at the end of the week.  Sure, it doesn’t carry the weight of the previously mentioned heavyweights, nor should it.  My Top 50 – this year a Top 100 – is simply a personal best-of for the year.

It has been a rather tumultuous year for me professionally (oh no, here we go again), yet with the recent changes came an overwhelming increase in tastings for me, and it has meant a lot of different things to me, both professionally and personally.

First, professionally speaking, it has given me renewed purpose in what it means to be a buyer, and it has forced me to reevaluate the way I approach wine.  For years, I haven’t put the time into really analyzing every wine I taste; it has been more of a cursory assessment, one of “are there customers who’d buy this or not?”  If I were to take my certified sommelier test or my certified wine educator test right now, I wouldn’t do so hot on the blind tasting portion.  I haven’t been looking at wine that way for a really long time.  But most importantly, I adopted my previous boss’ POV in that wine was just a widget, something without purpose.  The ONLY thing that saved me from completely abdicating the passion of wine tasting was this blog.

And fortunately for me, my new place has given me a renewed sense of purpose and perspective.

And personally, the volume of wine we are presented here at Party Source, the opportunities these present, has given me reason to reinvent myself, explore the parts of my life I shut down on in one aspect or another, like my writing, my music, and my marriage.

I can’t really blame these things on my previous employer – that would give them too much credit for my life – it’s really on me.  Yet I let my previous employer define me – I was where I worked, not who I am.  Does that make sense?  Sorry to wax philosophically, but despite the chaos that the Silly Season presents, here I am.

Wine Reviewed: 31

Wine of the Weeks: Chateau Cos d’Estournel 2008.

Good news in the wine biz: Or is it?  And then a question about sommeliers

Bad news in the wine biz:  There was this… but thankfully there is hope

Disturbing news in the wine biz: And of course there is this.

On the homefront: I have to take stock, like we all do, of what we have to be thankful for, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  A lot of people have it far worse than most of us right now.  The little things like having a fight with your boss, your wife tells you to take out the trash, or your husband spent too much money on Boy’s Night Out last week – doesn’t compare with no electricity for days, no running water, stuck in a high-rise with no lights, no power and no food – all I can say is contact your local chapters of the Red Cross and find out what you can do to contribute – food, blood, money – whatever is needed, do what you can.

What is on my playlist?: Gustav Mahler.

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Chateau Cos d’Estournel 2008, Bookwalter Protagonist 2009, Vieux Telegraphe 2009, Vilmart Ratafia NV.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  Absolutely anything that is NOT political.

What’s on tap for this week?:  Those Guild wines I have put off for two weeks, a meeting with a Chilean winemaker, and of course, my Top 100.

commentary recap


The countdowns begin.  Most importantly, Election Day is only days away.  To a lesser extent, the Wine Spectator Top 100 is coming.  And closer to home, my own Top 50 (or maybe more) is due next week (Holy Irrelevant Batman!).

Yet this past week has been met with some difficulties.  There have been some changes happening at The Party Source, ones I wish could have been avoided but sadly, some things do come to an end.  DJ Big Thirst is headed to Louisville soon, and VVI left two weeks ago to head up a wine bar across the river, while Dr. J. is moving on to Lord-Only-Knows.  I feel pretty lousy about these departures, particularly DJ Big Thirst, who has been nothing but cool to me since I arrived, and Dr. J., who I had a lot of respect for early on.  I really don’t know what to say other than I wish we could’ve had more time to work together; I think things could have been really great.

Another disappointment was a former coworker had been given a huge opportunity to join our team, but she decided to remain where she currently is.  A comrade-in-arms who seemingly drank the Kool-Aid and decided to stay put – I get it.  I was in her shoes many times over.  I stayed when I should have been running, screaming, in the other direction.  It took an utter collapse of faith on my part and betrayal on theirs to realize all I was doing was digging myself an early grave.  I only hope she averts a similar fate.

And of course, the grand finale of it all was being told by my boss she had received a very strange voice mail message (which she unfortunately deleted) from a supposed group of investors from the West Coast, dismayed by TPS’s recent hiring of me.  Seems they had a lot to say about my political rantings, which I try to stay away from on my blog, yet on my personal Facebook page, tend to vent frustrations as many of us do, being the so-called, affectionately dubbed “libtard” that I am.  Seems my FB rants drew a few detractors, and these detractors have called my professional integrity and that of my bosses’ into question.

Look, politics have no business in the wine business.  The wine business is about serving the people.  To exclude one group of people based upon their political beliefs is not good business.  If asked, I would do a wine tasting or seminar for any GOP committee without hesitation, and my politics would be left at the door, because I am a professional.  In all seriousness, while it is funny that – and if this wasn’t just one of my batshit crazy friends having a laugh at my expense – these individuals would actually give a crap what I – Kevin M. Keith, King Neurotic – had to say about Governor Romney or any other member of the Grand Old Party, it is really sad that they would go after my occupation.  Granted, being a wine blogger, I guess I am only asking to be something of a target, yet again, I am just a local wine blogger that may have a few folks from elsewhere read what I have to say, I just don’t think that what I say on Facebook, on my personal page, really matters all that much, other than the ravings of a frustrated man who actually loves his country and hates what is going on in it right now.  And what I say isn’t nearly as bad as some of the shit out there.  Seriously.

Wine Reviewed: 27

Wine of the Weeks: 2 from DeMorgenzon.

Good news in the wine biz: Mother Nature seemed kind to California this year

Bad news in the wine bizSeriously?

Disturbing news in the wine biz: Here we go again… wine in a can.  And why can’t we just let sleeping dogs lie?

On the homefront: It has been a rough transition at home as well.  I have been an albatross financially, as a blown up car, a ceiling poised to cave in and a dead furnace, I am at my wit’s end.  I am ready to sell ad space on my car as well as offer up my skin as ad space.  I am entertaining the idea of delivering pizzas at night, and if anyone has the number for a clinic that takes man gravy donations, please email me right away (although the idea of a bunch of short, pudgy, neurotic Stephen King wannabes let loose in this world is more than a bit disturbing).

I have no idea what lies ahead, yet I know that come next year, I need to seriously figure out a way to be a little bit more profitable.

What is on my playlist?: Jack White, David Bowie, ZZ Top.

What wine(s) is (are) impressing me right now at the store?: Bruno Giacosa Nebbiolo d’Alba, Baumard Sauvennieres 2008, d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache.

Recommended reads, blog or otherwise:  STILL reading up on Champagne and Burgundy.

What’s on tap for this week?:  a visit from Kentucky’s own Baker-Bird Winery, some Guild wines, and the continuing changes at TPS.

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