Exclusive: Dalai Lama Uncorked

WineGoggle grabs face-time with the Dalai Lama on visas, his secret love of wine and the Lost South African Visit.

WineGoggle: How do you feel about the South African government’s stalling on your visa to visit the country?

Dalai Lama: The brotherly spirit of transcendental love and the embracing of holistic humanity runs deep – and should run deep, – no matter how terse and abrupt the treatment one has received at the hands of others. But I still can’t help thinking that the ANC can go and fuck themselves.

WG: You are not known as a wine-enthusiast?

DL: No, the robes-and-sandals gig takes up most of my time, touring the world and rapping about the independence of Tep?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+.what’s the name of the place again?

WG: Tibet.

DL: That’s the one. Tibet. Especially since the Chinese have helped turn this into an Ace of an issue. But to answer your question, growing up on fermented Yak milk for us Tibetans is a bit of a drag. Have you seen the sour impressions on most Tibetan kids’ faces? Nothing to do with Chinese imperialism, everything to do with that putrid stuff.

WG: So when did you have your first wine experience?

DL: I was still in my teens, trying to cope with this Holiness, God-like status that had been handed to me, when I met some American students in Dharamsala. They were drinking some Paul Masson Chablis in-between puffs of Crazy Monkey Monk. I took a sip. The wine was creamy with a wild, long finish. Put it like this ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ after that sip I was not going to be party to the pulling of any Yak tits. Wine was it.

WG: You’re not very open about your love of wine?

DL: Dude, can you blame me? Roving the world defending the rights of the Tibetans through the philosophy of Buddha is not really going to sit well with my followers or our financial supporters if I am seen swigging away 2nd growth Bordeaux in Claridges. PR is hugely important, huge.

WG: But does the vinous life clash with your preaching?

DL: Balance, my son, balance. When I deal with governments and the throngs of sandalled followers, I’m obviously not going to start preaching the merits of the 2005 Burgundy harvest am I? But when I let my robe down, I gather a few followers and we enjoy and discuss wine. It’s all about holistic balance, but one can’t overdo it. I mean, in my next life I don’t want to come back as a Platter judge or,a winery tweeter official.

WG: You mentioned something about China’s interest in Tibet having to do with the latter’s potential as a wine growing region?

DL: Sure, China is planting vines at a rate of knots, but it’s the hallowed soils of Tibet they want to get their yellow Peking duck-eating hands on. The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon and the Kailash Mountain have fantastic soils ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ shale, clay and loads of limestone due to fossilized Yaks, Yeti, Sherpas and British explorers. The Chinese want to plant vines here, but as long as we keep positioning them as the oppressors of Tibet they can’t get around to farming these regions. That would not look good in the eyes of the world.

WG: If you were given back Tibet, you would plant vines there?

DL: Sure. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir would do really well with all the limestone, and German varieties like Riesling and Gew?+¦???+¦?+¦???+ærztraminer would go ballistic in that altitude. And let’s face it, a label like Ch?+¦???+¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬teau Buddha or Lama Heights would not take much marketing.

WG: What wines do you enjoy?

DL: Seeing I spend my life eating yoghurt, nuts and fermented bamboo shoots, my wine selection is driven by my thirst and mood instead of my non-existent culinary adventures. Therefore I must have wines with individuality and personality that can steal the show. I am bit of a Pinot Noir snob ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ dig the Burgundy robe! ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ preferring the power of Aloxe-Corton and Nuits-St Georges to Pommard and Volnay. I find Gevrey-Chambertin a bit tight and insular ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ much like China and South African governments. When it comes to Chardonnay, give me South of Beaune ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ Meursault. And I don’t mind a bit of wood, something that harks back to my first Paul Masson.

WG: Tell me again why you were sorry to miss Arch Tutu’s 80th?

DL: The party was at Waterford Estate, and I’ll tell you, the Cabernet Sauvignons of the Helderberg in Stellenbosch blow me away. Talk about individuality and power. So I would have liked to take Bono and sneak off for a bit of wine-tasting at Waterford. Bono is a Shiraz man, so the two of us would have had and interesting day. But alas, this was not to be. I’m seeing Bono and the Arch in Montpellier at the end of the year for a Peace in Our Lifetime Through Folk Poetry and Veganism conference, so we are bound to get in some good tastings. Unless Sarkozy pulls a fast one and allows those Chinese bastards to dictate to him, as well.

WG: Your Holiness, thank you for your time. It has been an honour.

DL: Pleasure’s all mine, Brother. I’ll be down south sometime. Love, fellowship and warm hearts to you and yours, always. But do me a favour, stop levitating.

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