What Brunello does Dick Cheney drink?

From the “just for fun” department…

One of my guilty pleasures is reading Maureen Dowd’s op-eds. Yes, it’s true. I’m a sucker for her gossipy Cheney bashing and I find her over-the-top satire thoroughly entertaining. It seemed only appropriate that I check in with Maureen last night, on a drive home from Houston, where Dan and I worked in the market and he pointed out both the Enron and Haliburton buildings… or rather, the Enron and Haliburton industrial military complices (pun intended for the Latinate among us). (Dan drove, btw, and he and our ride-with were chatting in the front while I blog-surfed on my blackberry in the back seat.)

In her column published yesterday online, Ms. Dowd imagined Dick and Rummy having dinner at what must be one of our nation’s capital’s top insider dining spots, Cafè Milano.

“Rummy grins,” she writes, “taking a gulp of his brunello. Dick grunts, raising a fork of his Risotto Gucci with roasted free-range quail.” (It’s always bugged me, btw, how the Times style-sheet does not require grape varieties to be capitalized. In the case of Brunello, I feel capitalization is doubly important but we can get into that later and don’t get me started on montepulciano d’abruzzo, where there is no questioning that Abruzzo is a place name! [Addendum: Eric the Red pointed out rightly that the Times renders the grape name “montepulciano d’Abruzzo”; what I meant to write was Montepulciano is a place name and should be capitalized; see Eric the Red’s comment below].)

I couldn’t help but wonder, what Brunello would they drink? So, I went online (duh, I practically live online!) and looked up the wine list (there is actually a dish called Risotto Gucci: “roasted free range quail over a lemon and spumante wine risotto.” Free range quail? Those quail are about as free as the orange-jump-suited detainees in my antfarm!).

The obvious choice would be the Valdicava Brunello 2004, 95 points according to the Wine Spectator, at a meager $450:

    Displays complex aromas of blackberry and cherry, with a hint of licorice. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and a delicious finish of wonderful yet subtle fruit. Well-integrated and beautiful. Everything is in the right place. Best after 2011. 5,000 cases made. –JS

There are a handful of wines on Cafè Milano’s dick-wagging list that I could actually drink — Conti Costanti, Poggio Antico, Biondi Santi — but I can’t really afford them. (If Tracie B and I were forced to eat there, the virtual sommelier would recommend having the white label 2004 Carema by Ferrando, for $95, over-priced but within reach, although incorrectly listed with Barbaresco.)

But then it came to me in a flash. Cheney and Rummy would drink the 2003 Brunello by Argiano — on the list at a spit-take price of $185!!!

After all, it’s already declassified…

4 thoughts on “What Brunello does Dick Cheney drink?

  1. Jeremy,

    The NYT would render it montepulciano d’Abruzzo. And why should grape names be capitalized?

    • Eric the Red, I stand corrected. You are entirely right: montepulciano d’Abruzzo is consistently rendered as such in the Times (in the haste of my post, I erroneously quoted the usage). But Montepulciano is also a place name and so technically it should be capitalized as well (that’s what I should have written). Italian capitalize their grape names and so does the Oxford Companion to Wine, as does the Oxford English Dictionary. I need to check, but I believe the Chicago Manual of Style also calls for them to be capitalized. At the same rate, I also recognize that usage varies widely. Here’s the quotations for Merlot [sic] from the OED:

      1825 J. BUSBY Treat. Culture Vine ii. 71 The murleau. This variety announces much vigour, by the strength of its wood. 1833 C. REDDING Hist. Mod. Wines v. 141 The vine plants most cultivated in the canton of Bourg are the merlot, the carminet, the mancin, the teinturier, the petit chalosse noire, and..the prolongeau. 1888 Encycl. Brit. XXIV. 604/2 The vines of the Cabernet species..are not so greatly used as the Merlot, which is very productive, and not so liable to attacks from Oidium. 1926 P. MORTON SHAND Bk. Wine v. 88 The grapes are cabernet, merlot, malbec; and one vineyard has a chateau built by Richelieu. 1978 Amer. Poetry Rev. Nov.-Dec. 22/3 Two or three empty bottles of Merlot, Avant-garde of the gallons that are to come. 1985 H. COLEMAN & R. MAXWELL tr. H. Enjalbert Great Bordeaux Wines II. 223 Only two, including the ‘Merlau’ are excellent. 2000 Wine May 17/3 We believe that La Capitana offers the perfect soil..to produce both the Merlot and Sangiovese grapes that comprise the Lucente blend.

      I need to spend more time thinking about this but my linguistic gut feeling is that grape names are proper names and should be capitalized.

      I feel a blog post coming on! Thanks for stopping by…

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