Wine Fraud Uncorked

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, unless it?s the bouquet of a fine Bordeaux, that?s really a ?faux-deaux.? Like the imitation Gucci bag and the Rolex reduxes strapped on cheaper wrists, wine too has made a splash among counterfeiters as purveyors of bogus plonk have turned the cellars of the unsuspecting into menageries of liquid fraud. Alas, sour grapes looms for this lot ? as Krissy Clark recently reported on Marketplace, services like those offered by Applied DNA Sciences are thwarting counterfeiters by letting the genome out of the bottle through genetic tracking. As the company explains on its website ?Applied DNA Sciences offers a novel system called SigNature (Botanical plant DNA) to certify and verify the provenance of prestige wines.? It remains unnecessary, however to verify the provenance and prestige of today?s wine-borne hangover. Some things, regrettably, are always legit. (Thanks to Christian Chensvold for the lead.)

Listen to the report here.

Fade Out for Projectionists

So I?m at a wedding party and I?m talking to a movie theater projectionist about the trade. There is no trade he tells me. As more theaters have invested in digital projection technologies, the notion of a journeyman projectionist who knows how to cut film, load platters and thread the great heaving apparata that make the pictures move, is going the way of the zoetrope. Apparently, these days, distributors send theater managers a data cube ? a sort of flash drive ? loaded with the film and its constituent data? and a password. According to the projectionist, some kid then puts the cube in the machine, inputs the code, and then pushes play. Apparently, the cube is just a patch before they get the satellite distribution model worked out and the cube and the kid are cut out of the equation. And the whole thing is password protected to prevent hi-tech piracy, you know, by the kid.

CinemaWest, the local theatrical exhibitor of films and related content has outfitted many of its holdings throughout the Bay Area with digital projection, including Boulevard Cinemas in Petaluma, CA. On August 20, Delirium, a Cirque de Soleil prerecorded live music concert with all the acrobatics and contortions of the human form we?ve come to expect from the franchise, opened at the cinemas. The Circque performance is being distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, which is also presenting upcoming Broadway performance of Rent in the same format. Didn?t we just see rent as a major motion picture on local screens last year? Yes. But we can also listen to This American Life on the radio, or watch the TV series on Showtime ? and that didn?t stop a successful one night run of This American Life Live, in which host Ira Glass was beamed by satellite to theaters nationwide. As Alana, a Facebook commentor opined ?Being in the theater last night with all those other people who love the show as much as I do was like being ?home.?? Now, Alana, might be a corporate shill, but I suspect that many might feel the same. Could this be the future of on-screen entertainment? I?m curious to find out. Delirium might not have a delirious business model after all.? Tickets are available at Sony?s site, and lest I become their shill, considering its slogan, which suggests ?If you can?t be there, be here.?


Pour me.Pour yourself of glass of your favorite oft-maligned varietal and enjoy this chat with Rudy McClain, producer-director of the pro-merlot documentary Merlove. The podcast was pulled from a recent broadcast of Mornings in Sonoma (KSVY 91.3 FM), which I co-host with Ken Brown (hence all the raucous laughter). They say that wine improves with age ? well, this podcast improves with wine (specifically merlot, of course).


Point, click, sip

From click to cork.

Whodda thunk that Napa Valley would be early adopters? According to Terry Hall, head flak at the Napa Valley Vintners, online uber-store will start selling Napa wines as well as those from an additional 25 states as early as the end of September (thus spake the Wall Street Journal).

I?m all for mixing a little silicon in local terroir, but assumed perennial Napa County rival Sonoma County would have leapt first (two or our major growth sectors are wine and tech). Of course, shipping wines out-of-state is still fraught with niggling legal and protocol issues (as anyone who has worked in fulfillment can tell you), which makes it a perfect job for digital deployment. Online imbibers can thank Napa-based New Vine Logistics for handholding Amazon through this process, who, beyond having a company name straight from a sci-fi film, has brought us one step closer to a computer-generated voice querying ?Shall we drink some wine??

Mobile blogging from the Fig

Leashed.Please bear with this brief post, which I’m writing via iPhone from my roost at the girl and the fig. I’ve downloaded a new app to facilitate this potential rival to my recent spate of twittering (are we not amazed by the recent surge in verbs?) and am, presently, quite satisfied. Of course, that might be the pinto of Anchor Steam talking — or Texting (verb check) as the case may be. I dread that this device might someday obviate my reporter’s notebook. Why take a note when one can just as easily post? I maintain a rather romantic notion that the thoughts I capture in the notebook ferment there until I call upon them again, whereupon they have matured, deepened and generally become more writerly (at least in the context to which they are transplanted). Not true. I rarely, if ever, return to a notebook for more than a phone number. In fact, it’s priniciple use is as a prop to remind others that I’m an accredited member of the media — especially snarky waiters, who most regularly see it when plucked with a sigh from my inside coat pocket (always left) and laid on the table next to my poison pen while on restaurant reviews. The iPhone doesn’t have the same effect as a prop. When placed on a table it merely looks as if I’m expecting a call that never comes (like some hi-tech metanym for my agent). I’ll stop here. Being the lone man at the bar Texting to his blog is beginning to seem a little too geekish a pose. Back to the notebook — at least there’s cultural precedence for that pose.