“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





24 May 2009


Chuckie's In Love With Bottom Ocker Chardie Feeding At the Shallow Edge Of Wine's Gene Pool Two Buck Goes Three Buck Chunder Down Under
by PHILIP WHITE - a version of this appeared in The Independent Weekly 22 MAY 09

"I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder

Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

- Colin Hay, Men At Work

Unless you feed in the shallowest edges of wine’s gene pool, you’ve probably never heard of Two Buck Chuck. And unless you traffic in the deepest, darkest, cheapest depths of the international wine lake, you’ve probably never tasted any.

This may change. Two Buck Chuck is about to become Three Buck Chunder From The Land Down Under. Give him a Vegemite sandwich!

Two Buck Chuck is a bloke, a.k.a. Fred T. Franzia, or Freddy. He’s the 66 year old nephew of Ernie Gallo, of the Gallo Brothers, the USA equivalent of Foster’s, McGuigan, Constellation and Yellow Tail, all rolled into one big Italo-American purveyor of, shall we say, cheap grape-based drinking ethanol, operating handily behind the visage of a premium wine maker. A quick dredge of the internet will show you that Gallo is one very clever mob, and that nephew Chuck is not a dude to be taken lightly.

One of the really bright things to come from the Bush presidency was George W’s last minute refusal to grant the Presidential pardon which Chuck and his extravagant swarm of lawyers and lobbyists had sought so keenly. Sixteen years previous, he’d pled guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to defraud. He’d been “blessing the loads” of cheap grapes he sold by sprinking zinfandel on top of them and selling the lot at zin prices -- US$800 to $1,200 a ton, instead of $100 to $200.

Chuck paid a US$500,000 fine, did five years on probation, and quit his job as President of Bronco Wines, which was fined another US$2.5 million. Five of his co-riders went to the can, but Chuck retained his role as Bronco’s finance chief, and soon returned to his former position of President.

The gang he assembled to convince Bush of his worthiness included maverick Republican Congressman George Radanovich, and Washington-based attorney Margaret Colgate Love, who had for seven years been the U.S. pardon attorney -- the Justice Department officer who screens all clemency applications. But all these deadshot gunslingers failed, and Chuck got the bad news for his Christmas present last December 23rd.

Freddie became Chuck when he flooded the US stores with wine retailing at $2 per bottle. Bronco is the USA’s fourth biggest wine company, specialising in cheap plonk which is top of the premium bins in chainstore Trader Joe’s. Chuck sells the same wine under various labels. Charles Shaw was an early invention, from whence came the Chuck moniker. Forest Glen is another perfect name, which brings to mind those little blotting paper pine trees that cabbies hang on the mirror to change the smell of the car from a toilet that smells of humans to one smelling of petro-chem.

Mention Two Buck Chuck to any Australian trying to sell wine at a profit in the United States and you’re risking violence. And that’s about to escalate. Chuckie’s in love. With Australian wineries going bankrupt.

Why would lovely Australian wineries be going bankrupt? Because their wine is not cheap enough to sell in the USA. They attempt to flood the Yanks with bottles of Bacchus only knows what splattered on the outside with fake aboriginal dot paintings or names like Lick Me or Slut or Lady Dog or whatever, they hire a bright young graphic artist and a sales dimbo with a lot of product in his hair, and off they go. But they cannot compete with Two Buck Chuck. So they go broke.

Chuck’s just advised the wine world that he’s gonna flood the USA with a wine from Australia, a chardonnay, next month, at three bucks US.

He’s got agents here sourcing this from bankrupt wineries. And the more of it he pumps into America, the more you’ll see Australians going under as they try to match those mendicant prices, providing Chuck’s buyers with more and more and more wine. Until, as London critic Robert Joseph sagely pointed out, there is no wine left in Australia.

And guess what Chuck’s gonna call this gastronomic triumph? Down Under. Down Under. And every bottle he sells will push Australia further and further and further down until it’s well and truly friggin under. We have at least $450m worth of wineries and grapeyards for sale from people who are not yet broke and many who are. Personally, I reckon these “market analysts” are out by a factor of minus many. I’d double it.

So who’s Chuck gunning for? To start with, he’s gonna halve the price of Yellow Tail, which is sold by Griffith Italians with assistance from various highly influential American connections.

"They're overpriced and we're going to pound them for a while now," Franzia said last week in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're taking our fight international."

And he’s doing this on a green ticket, since his ultra-light enviro-friendly bottles are clinking out of his new bottle factory in the Napa by the scrillion.


Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, back in the USA, the Gallo family is suing their own customer for selling Pastas Gallo from Spain:


James said...

Star Wine Wars... Attack of the Clones.

Sonny said...

Does that mean he's declared war on the NYPD?

Murdoch Slave said...

Hey Whitey, I see The Australian has picked up your Chuck. Didn't they sack you for writing things like that?