The world’s most confusing wine list?

confusing_wine_listHave you ever sat down at at wine bar and thought, “Man, I’d really love a glass of vieilles vignes ’13!” Never mind what grape variety the vieilles vignes are yielding. Nor where they are grown. Nor who presided over that growth and subsequent fermentation and maturation. Just a straight up “vieilles vignes ’13”? Frankly, it sounds like an outdated campaign bumper sticker from France. Outtakes from the full campaign posters: “Victoire aux vieilles vignes! Contre la discrimination des vignes agées! On y go les vieilles en 2013!”

Anyhoo, if this sort of ordering sounds like what you’d like to do, then sidle up to the bar at Hatchet Hall in LA. The sommelier has put together a fiendishly minimalistic wine list that was first called out for its absurdity by Besha Rodell of LA Weekly and then retweeted by, well, everybody in the food and wine TwittoFacebookoblogoshpere. Rodell describes the list broken down into categories not of your quotidian color, variety, or regions but rather by categories like “Heather,” “James,” and “Michael.” Upon request for clarification, Rodell was told these were the names of the “portfolio managers,” whatever that means (distributor sales reps?). Then there are the woefully insufficient wine terms including the “vielles vignes ’13” as well as “Teleki ’13” and “Bela Jufahrk ’11”

Apparently, the list tries to emulate George Saintsbury’s 1915 “Notes on a Cellar Book” in it’s minimalism. But is woefully insufficient in providing actionable information for the diner. While I haven’t seen the whole wine list (it is not available online), the photos of it posted in Rodell’s thorough dismantling of the list make it make it worthy of including in a seminar of how NOT to write a wine list. Sure, some bistro wine lists in France only include the region and the price but those are not particularly informative either.

Wine is complicated. But there are ways of making it easier to navigate a wine list. This, however, is not one of them.

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6 Responses to “The world’s most confusing wine list?”

  1. Vieilles Vignes is the correct spelling 🙂 And the restaurant is Hatchet Hall, not Hatch Hall. The list is indeed arranged by the names of wine distributor/broker sales reps. I heard that the #kistler’15 is not actually Kistler, as one might assume, but instead a white wine poured into a glass that was primed by bourbon. Certainly a way to get people talking!

  2. Thanks for the edits!

    Listing a wine as #Kistler–and then not pouring a Kistler…Hmm, that’s a new one!

  3. You had it spelled correctly from the list! It reads Vielles Vignes (sic) on the list. Maybe that’s how George Saintsbury spelled it. I wonder if Ham Wine is N. Rhone syrah? Oyster Wine – Muscadet? Aligoté? Chablis? Kistler? 🙂

  4. I find it stressful to read this wine list. I suspect that the wines are all produced by some of his pals in a garage somewhere with one of those kits you get in the mail.

  5. […] […]

  6. I live not far from here, if there’s a particular crazy named wine on that list, I’d be happy to try a glass and provide some notes 😉


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