Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Mad Scientist's New Intern

By Bradley Ross

The fictional character of Igor has been portrayed in many examples of "Peonism" (see the Bordeax Baritone's guide to his Fox Run internship, currently an internal monologue in progress). He has been personified as both dramatic and comedic characters in many forms of modern media, most recently as a likeable hero in a big-budget animated feature-film. In every example of the role, he has always been the devoted lab assistant, the lowly peon of lore, robbing graves or throwing the power switch to some ungodly machine that produces who-knows-what. Fortunately for me, my chance at the role of Igor was much more pleasant, without the Master's whip or shocking electrical devices.

Picture a decent sort of fellow, 6'1" and a lean-and-mean 185 pounds (no humpback in sight; ruggedly handsome sometimes...). Fresh out of wine school but in possession of 4 years of wine biz experience both in retail and wholesale markets, I have a well trained palate that's able to tell the difference between Merlot (pronounced low) and Pinot noir (pronounced nwah), and I love wine. I have never made wine, nor worked the vineyards. This is your Igor.

Oops, wrong Igor.

So now enter the gifted Mad Scientist, a.k.a. Peter Bell, head winemaker at our beloved Fox Run. I kneel humbly at his feet and ask for winemaking enlightenment, so that I may sing my experience to the masses with my wine entertaining alter ego, the Bordeaux Baritone. Peter accepts his new Igor, albeit for only a few weeks, so that he may pass on the gift of wine making knowledge.

He immediately begins, and we dive headfirst into Modern Winemaking 101. He teaches plate and frame filtration, stainless steel tank cleaning, and wine transfer. Yes, Master! Valves, gaskets, citric acid and TSP. Of course, Master! The list goes on and on and this is just the first day. Correction: the first hour. Igor likes!

And thus begins my indoctrination.

For the next two weeks, Peter takes me through everything he can, including wine blending and taste trials with many different wine makers from the region. This is good stuff. The Igor of legend was never allowed try the fruits of his master's labor (pun fully intended). Just "Igor do this, Igor do that". Peter the Mad Scientist is clearly cut from a different cloth than that of his fictional namesakes, as he encourages questions and hands-on application of his enological instruction. Peter also lets our Igor work with the vines as well, learning pruning and brush clearing from John (the Vineyard Manager), Jim, and Pete. Thanks, fellas!

My two weeks end very quickly, unfortunately. I believe I have done my role great justice, as I have learned much in a short amount of time and earned the metaphorical 'Igor's hump' in wine knowledge rather than in physical deformation, thankfully. At last I must let go of my internship and depart to my endeavors of bringing the cultures of wine and song together in a unique wine show experience to all who are willing to learn. Igor is now armed with experiences and a new perspective of the modern wine culture.

Thank you, Peter, as well as the whole team at Fox Run!


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