Wine geeks and wine pros are taking it on the chin right now (for a hilarious and totally NSFW example, have a listen to this podcast by Internet comedy icon Maddox). We are accused of just about everything uncool, from being fond of snobbery to displaying nepotism to having bullsh*t jobs to engaging in major douchebaggery.
During DLW 2012, one of the panels, titled “Local Food, Local Wine, and Why They Don’t Like Each Other” (manned by Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post and co-founder of DrinkLocalWine.com; Rene Chazottes from Pacific Club in Newport Beach; Evan Faber of Salt in Boulder; and Jensen Cummings from the stellar Row 14 in downtown Denver), explored the sometimes rocky relationship between local wines and local restaurants – namely exploring the open question (I’m paraphrasing here):
“Why don’t more local restaurants stock local wines, when they almost always stock local produce without much hesitation?”
This was a discussion I found timely and poignant, seeing only a day earlier how tightly Western Slopes business like the rugged-turned-luxury (and stellar) Smith Fork Ranch incorporate their local wine producers into their wine lists and menus.
Answers varied, but there was no shortage of heated debate about whether or not local restaurants should or should not be stacking the deck in favor of local wines. To understand why this isn’t such a no-brainer, I think we need to first look at local restaurants as not actually being that local…
Technically, this is actually Episode Three of my podcasts, but they’re running out of order. Because I feel like it.
Anyway, my strong suspicion is that today’s interview with James Suckling (formerly, of course, from Wine Spectator) is going to generate a lot of discussion. Like Robert Parker, Suckling is a bit of a polarizing figure in the wine world, mostly because for decades he represented concepts that wine geeks have come to either love or loathe: the assignment of numerical scores to assess a wine’s quality, handed down by either experts with exceptional palates honed by years of tastings, or by ivory-tower-dwelling egomaniacs, depending on your point of view of wine scores.
James braved intermittent cellphone coverage, technical Skype difficulties, and (most dangerously) L.A. traffic to be the next victim interview guest on “1WineDude Radio.”
In our interview, James talks about his new website (which launched last Monday, but will be referenced as still being in the future as we recorded the interview on December 3rd), his view on wine scores (and why he thinks they’re still important), why he left Wine Spectator, how he expects to make a living out on his own in the wine world; he also has some surprising things to say about wine blogs.
No doubt there will be many of you who will think I either wasn’t respectful enough or wasn’t hard-edged enough in this interview (likely depending on your points of view of wine scores). I think what you will find, if you keep an open mind, is that James shows a side of himself in this interview that isn’t evident in his Wine Spectator writings or his film appearances. As always, my interview approach is centrist; it’s meant to have the person voice their views themselves, in the most human and direct way possible; we can of course explore, debate, and discuss our reactions in the comments – which (as always), I encourage you to do!
It’s often been cited that all 50 U.S. states make wine in some capacity (though not all make their wine from grapes). But outside of CA, WA, OR, and NY, only a handful of the remaining 46 states have any real public eye affixed on them in terms of seeking out quality wine. VA, PA, and TX are among the ‘second tier’, but few are running out to scoop up FL wines just yet.
Same with AZ. However, a couple of prominent AZ folk have been out to change the world’s view of the Arizona wine scene.
On February 19th, another wine film hits the big screen: Blood Into Wine, directed by Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke, chronicles the efforts of Tool front man (and Caduceus Cellars owner) Maynard James Keenan and Page Springs Cellars owner Eric Glomski to bring recognition to the budding AZ wine industry.
According to www.azstronghold.com, the joint venture of Keenan and Glomski, their mission is “to put Arizona on the fine wine map.” It looks like they’re bringing out the full PR machine to help them, and the movie will feature guests such as hotter-than-the-AZ-desert-itself Milla Jovovich. Wine Specatator’s James Suckling also makes an appearance (but I don’t think he’s hot).
Will Blood Into Wine do for the AZ wine scene what Sideways did for CA Pinot Noir? I suppose we’ll find out in February, but I wouldn’t go out and liquidate the 401k and bet it all on AZ wine industry stock just yet. Keenan has star power and street cred, and Jovovich has powers of extreme hotness, but it’s unlikely that Blood Into Wine will see distribution that is closer to the levels of Merlove and Mondovino than Sideways or Bottle Shock. But it just may leapfrog the publicity factor of AZ a few years when it comes to fine wine recognition, or at least brand recognition for Keenan and Glomski’s wineries.
Got an opinion on AZ wine, wine movies, Tool, Suckling, or the hotness of Milla Jovovich? Shout it out in the comments!
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