Darby Winery 2011 Live Wire rose

Does a wine blogger actually make a difference in impacting how a wine organization operates? U bet yer ass I does!

The Washington State Auditor’s Office recently released its audit of the oft-sloppy accounting practices and hard-partying-on-the-taxpayer’s-dime of the Washington Wine Commission for the period of July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012. As first comprehensively disseminated here on this blog almost two years ago, the Washington Wine Commission has a long history of non-compliance, feigning knowledge of state regulations, paying for parking tickets, recreation center privileges, and farewell parties, among other indecencies and misdemeanors.

“Where all blog alike, no one blogs very much.”

Unfortunately for the wine-blog-reading public, the Washington Wine Commission also is said to control the many “bennies” and “freebies” that are handed out to willing wine bloggers that are secretly “on the take.” Doling out free wines donated by wineries or free passes to wine-themed events as a form of bribery for all the willing ‘Pied Piper’ wine bloggers who acquiesce control of their freedom of speech and transform into the “Big Marketing Machine’s” primitive, unskilled hype generators… doesn’t that sound like a classic recipe for racketeering? U bet yer ass it does!

However, let’s not completely pit the blame on these asswipes. Some of that fault falls squarely on the readers who bite on such tainted bait. When a closet bisexual states he is drinking a Durham Cellars syrah (name changed to conceal the real winery) at some pre-“big time” event on a social media site, what do you think is the message he is vainly attempting to convey? That he is an alcoholic? That he is privileged, unlike you? (Wrong). Or, maybe. Just maybe… the wanker is saying “This is what I’m drinking. Maybe you should be doing the same since you are following me, but you have to BUY yours. Ahh hahahaha! Sucker.” Is this asexual an asshole? U bet yer ass It is!

Getting back to the latest audit, and in the interests of balanced reporting, after the annual persistence of exposing the misdeeds of said Commission over the past couple of years, they apparently have cleaned up their act and resolved their misappropriated monies. They also have no long-term debt, as of 2012. Also, the Commission has a new source of income through the WSU Wine Science Center that generates more than three times the Commission’s net operating income. So, thanks to that WSU “bailout,” the Washington Wine Commission ended June 30, 2012 with a net worth of almost $1.3 million, as opposed to June 30, 2011 when it had a net worth of $445,000. That’s after almost thirty years of existence (and mismanagement).

You just want to cue the double rainbows and have the unicorns prepare to flip me the bird, don’t you? Hold on, Clyde. Little remembered is the Washington Wine Commission’s pledge of some $7.4 million (over 10 years) to create the WSU Wine Science Center. Payment of this pledge comes with a couple caveats. First, the Commission and WSU must agree on a draft design of the Center. And second, “(the) Commission is satisfied that sufficient funding is in place to complete a building phase that will meet viticulture and enology research, teaching and outreach goals for which the center is intended.” Now, here’s the kicker– “Once Facility construction funding is in place and a construction schedule is established, the Commission shall pay pledge amounts in increments on a mutually agreed upon schedule.” I thought it was $7.4 mil over 10 years? Could it get anymore clearer?

That works out great. $7.4 million over ten years. Doable, right? Well, how much does the Commission have invested to assure payment of this pledge? As of June 30, 2012, the Commission had a total of… wait for it… a massive $613 thousand. Add the Commission’s other investments and that (now) theoretical total ups to $1.1 million. All of this is fermenting in a money market fund AND WE ALL KNOW that if you want to make the BIG BUCKS in investing, you put it in the SAFEST form of investment. (FACEPALM?!) U bet yer ass that’s a facepalm.

To put it in context, you just bought a million-dollar home on your wicked $100,000/year NET income and promise to pay it all to the bank via a 10-year mortgage. So, while not far-fetched in this case, let me ask just one simple question to this scenario. What da fuq you gonna eat over those ten years? Did a few power-hungry wine peeps fail investment math? U BET YER ASS THEY DID.

If you have been to Darby Winery’s schoolhouse tasting room lately, you might think you shoulda brought your Ouija board. It’s dark. It’s barren. It’s about as minimalist in design as you will find in Woodinville. A complete 180 from the nearby Long Shadows tasting room. If you are goth or wiccan, then you will feel right at home.

Live Wire is Darby Winery’s “second label” set of wines. I understand the concept of “brand reputation” but this is… I’ll leave it at that.

Food pairing was shredded pork sliders. Decent.

Tasted at 42-52 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: salmon orange. Mouthfeel: syrupy. Transitions: weak attack, strong midpalate, tangy finish. Tail trail: 5 seconds. Aromas/flavors: strawberry, cherry, finely grained spices and herbs. I guessed grenache and syrah.

Alcohol: 14.4%. Columbia Valley AVA. Grenache, syrah, mourvedre. Aged in neutral French oak. pH 3.66. TA 0.66%. I guessed RS of 0.8%. 190 cases. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. Value: $15. Paid: $18. Music pairing: “Sweet About Me” by Gabriella Cilmi. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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