Just over one month ago, I was quoted in an (excellent and well-written) article by Spencer Bailey of the Columbia Journalism Review, titled “Everyone’s the Wine Expert: Wine critics and bloggers, professional and amateur, are mixed up in a social media web.”
At the time, the CJR article was (rightfully) the subject of interesting and thought-provoking analysis by some very intelligent stewards of the wine world, most notably Tom Wark and Steve Heimoff.
I found myself quoted slightly out of context in the article, and somehow placed on opposite but connected poles of viewpoints with wine writer and educator Karen MacNeil, as if we were some sort of quantum-entangled pair of electrons in a physics experiment. I’ll mention right now that I am not equating myself with Karen MacNeil in terms of wine writing – not even close; I’m simply pointing out the juxtaposition of our attributed viewpoints in the CJR article.
The article quotes Karen in raising an important viewpoint about wine writing; a concern discussed in detail at the Professional Wine Writers Symposium earlier this year, and one that I’ve pondered on many occasions myself:
“Maybe what blogging will do is undermine the whole idea that this is a subject that is rich and deep and requires some substantive thought and substantive knowledge,” says Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and one in a small stable of writers that wine critic Robert Parker has recruited to contribute to his Web site, erobertparker.com. “If everybody’s an expert,” she says, “nobody’s an expert.”
This was followed immediately by the opposing viewpoint, which was attributed to me despite the fact that it’s not an entirely literal record of my take on the issue:
Do we really need expert critics anymore? Many bloggers don’t think so, arguing that credentials are merely one part of what makes a great wine writer. How you say something—not simply who says it, they argue—is what’s most important. “Readers today have got to feel like the experts connect with them in some way,” says Joe Roberts, who runs the blog 1WineDude.com. “It’s not just, ‘Oh, this person’s got great credentials because they work for Wine Enthusiast.’”
So, over a month later, why am disturbing the tomb and (sort-of) resurrecting the discussion? It’s the question “Do we really need expert critics anymore?” – the CRJ article proposes it, but then moves off of that topic rather quickly. Which is a shame, because that’s where the real meat in this pie lies…
Read the rest of this stuff »
1WineDude.com has never (and will never) accept sponsored articles, which means that whatever you read on its virtual pages is purely the product of my somewhat deranged mind.
I do need to feed my family, however, and so I have been taking some paid writing gigs on the side. One of those gigs has been for the blog of Wines.com, called Wine Crush. That gig is not promoting individual wines, producers, or brands, and I have free reign on the content for my posts – Wines.com just wanted to add the value of quality wine-elated content for their customers (but for some reason, they still chose me as a contributor…).
Over the last few months I’ve built up some content at Wine Crush of which I’m proud and thought that I’d cal attention to it here, in case it’s of interest to 1WD readers. Similar voice, of course, but the topics are a bit different than what I cover here and so I think they’re complimentary (the Wine Crush content is meant more for those at the start of their wine journey, while 1WD remains more in what I like to call the “Intermediate” space, though all are certainly welcome, newbies and experts alike).
Anyway, check it out if you’re so inclined:
Earlier this week, I shared a brief twitter exchange with Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth, kicked off by a tweet about a Chinon tasting that I noticed on James’ twitter feed:
“That was a tough flight – I’m more tolerant than most, but someone needs to send the brett police to Chinon…”
Essentially, James and I briefly discussed the fact that Chinon (in France’s Loire Valley) would be making some lovely Cabernet Franc-based wines, if only the fruit in those wines wasn’t buried under the smell of barnyard.
Yes, I’m talking about brett. Again.
I can’t help it, I don’t want my wine to smell like poop, okay? There, I admit it!
And with the samples coming my way lately from Chinon and nearby Bourgueil, poop is exactly what I’m finding. Here are a couple of examples that found their way onto the wine “mini-review” feed:
- 07 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon: With that much brett masking the red fruit, a more suitable name might be "Domaine Barnyard Baudry" $18 C- #
- 06 Domaine Guion Cuvee Prestige (Bourgueil): Brambly red fruit & spice peeking out their heads from under a pound or so of fertilizer $14 C- #
James’ tweet really got me thinking that a) it’s NOT just me, and b) my samples might actually be indicative of the general quality of those regions’ wines.
Sorry to those who really dig Chinon, but I don’t subscribe to the belief that the concept of terroir extends to poop-aroma-inducing yeasts (and possibly dirty winemaking equipment). When the day comes that winemakers deliberately cultivate the wild yeasts that induce those off-odors, and it can be proven scientifically, then I’ll stop calling it a flaw and instead refer to it as a poor winemaking decision.
But until then, it’s a flaw.