When new broke Thursday that President Barack Obama had had ordered 35 Russian spies posing as diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours, wine professionals in Los Angeles immediately began texting each other. The subject of their messages? One Andrey Tolmachyov, the highly-regarded sommelier at Osteria Mozza on "The Corner" who has long been suspected by the FBI of spying for the Kremlin.
"Will Stoli Rocks be deported?' many of the texts wondered, using a Tolmachyov's endearing nickname.
Friday afternoon, the White House released a statement clarifying what has become known as "The WineSpyGate Matter".
"To set aside rumors, President Obama asked me to clarify the issue of Andrey "Stoli Rocks" Tolmachyov," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest who then read from a prepared statement. "The question is not if Andrey Tolmachyov is or is not a spy. Tolmachyov is, indeed, a Russian spy. No doubts about. However, he is such an inept spy that we feel it is in the best interests of the United States to keep him here. Let him spy badly and report - inaccurately - back to Putin. Another reason he should stay is Tolmachyov is actually a superb sommelier. He turned Michelle on to Giacosa's Falletto Riserva and now that's all she talks about. And after hearing her talk policy for years, that's a good thing."
According to a high ranking member of the Central Intelligence Agency, Tolmachyov would send top secret encrypted wine labels to Moscow. (See below) "But, he would be so fucked up, he would invariably put in bad information which is fine with us," said the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity..
Tolmachyov's boss, Nancy Silverton, is in a remote, internet-less village in Italy and could not be reached for comment.
However, Kate Elizabeth Green, Silverton's spokesperson, said "Nancy could give a fuck about spying. As long as he keep pouring that good vino rosso, that's all that matters. And Stoli Rocks can pour, believe me."
Calls to Tolmachyov, who is actually from Kazakhstan, were not returned. His girlfriend, Regina Volk, a native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is said to be in hiding.