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In the Grip of Loonies

Wrestling with bad politics, good wines

I know I’m supposed to be writing about wine, and, oddly enough, a lot of people are interested in learning about the various wines. I’ll get around to wine. Promise. But these are ominous times, and as a hedge against what I fear might be an election that proves that super-rich oligarchs can simply buy a democracy and loot the public treasury with impunity, I’m trying to prepare myself.

I’m trying to learn Republican. It ain’t easy. The language is strange and the logic is twisted.

The posturing, that I grasp — act defensive even while attacking anyone who might find greed and selfishness distasteful. And the props are fairly simple — put a Bible in one hand and a flag in the other (no real need to read the first or feel loyal to the second). But I’ve been struggling for a week with just the phrase “legitimate rape.” That’s a tough one, though I’m sure it’s much tougher for a woman who’s been raped, especially if the woman finds herself pregnant with the rapist’s spawn. With a strong, beautiful wife, five sisters, four daughters and a long association with a whole host of competent, intelligent women, I’m having a hard time adopting Republican scorn for women and their rights.

And that whole me-first, neo-Ayn Randian thing: “See that bridge? I built that, not the guv’mint. Those soldiers, sailors, flyers, police and firefighters? Never did nuthin’ for me. I didn’t have teachers. Even my parents didn’t help much. Oh, sure, inheriting millions didn’t hurt, but I did all the rest.” I guess I don’t have much skill in acting like a superman. I’ve read Atlas Shrugged. I shrugged.

I’m also wrangling with the raging racist fantasies of ultra-rightists like Judge Tom Head of Lubbock, Texas, who foresees, if Obama is re-elected, “Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe,” followed by United Nations “armored personnel carriers” rolling through the streets, sent by Obama. Day-um. Who knew the U.N. had APCs, or that Obama controlled them? I wish I could think that this particular Head is unique, but I’m afraid Head’s dementia is symptomatic of a broader malaise. And I just don’t get it.

Let’s be clear: I happen to know some Republicans — decent people, sensible, principled, not at all raving lunatics. They don’t rant about the “guv’mint”; some actually realize that America has thrived on a mixed economy, a strong public sector and a strong private sector. But these folks are, in such parlous times, rather rare Republicans, often uncomfortable with their own party, daily more in the grip of the loony fringe.

I’ll keep working, practicing. Meanwhile, wine:

I’ve decided that there will be good weather and a bountiful harvest this year. I’m going to make a lot of good wine. But I’ve also found — all by myself, with no help from little people — some good juice, ready to drink.

Take, for example, Witness Tree 2009 Pinot Blanc ($15). This is not rosé or ‘blush.’ The pinot blanc grape yields a particularly versatile white wine, a match to many foods. The Italians make pinot bianco to match with seafood; the style is often, as with the Witness Tree, clean, crisp, with flavors of green apple and Asian pear, with acidity that’ll cut right through creamy pastas.

Our neighbors have scored again: Benton-Lane 2010 Pinot Gris ($16) is a bright white, nicely balanced, with flavors that span from white peaches to ripe pears to green apples and zesty citrus. The 2010 is still on shelves, but the 2011 is no slouch.

Despite the taint of collectivism in their efforts, I have allowed three young winemakers to produce Guild 2009 Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($13), a medium-body, Rhone-style blend of syrah, grenache and mourvedre that slides down nicely with late-summer/early-autumn ’Q. Silky smooth, well balanced and quite pleasant, it’s also good value.

I’m not done, still learning: Send me your money and give me more power, and I will make a better world for you and any children I decide you should have. For now, enjoy the America I built.