Let’s set the record straight – at least, my record – on this whole ‘wineries making wines in a style to please critics’ argument that’s raging right now in my colleague James Laube's blog.
The argument is born out of a feeling that the current crop of American wine critics are so powerful a force, that our own personal preferences become dictatorial to those who read us. That seems like a sad comment to make.
When I taste a wine for review here at the magazine, I judge it based on its inherent quality – my personal style preference is not the issue. There are oaked Chardonnays and unoaked Chardonnays. And there are good oaked Chardonnays and bad ones, along with good unoaked Chardonnays and bad ones. Neither ‘style’ is inherently better than the other – it’s the purity of fruit, balance, structure and other components that dictate the wine’s quality.
As a wine drinker, I may personally prefer one style to another, but as a critic, I am also obligated to understand and appreciate the other styles, and to be able to judge them all accordingly. I have to subjugate my personal taste – my cellar is full of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but I know that the wines aren't for everyone – in order to take a clear, clinical look at every wine that winds up in my tasting glass.
If I really only liked one style of wine and wanted to dictate that to my readers, then that would be all I would ever write about. Instead I find myself writing about bone-dry, minerally Savennières as often as fruit-driven Argentinean Malbecs. The readers then make their choice about what I’ve had to say (which includes the choice to not listen to me at all).
To like only one style while being blind to or even ignoring all others is to miss the point of wine – which is an expression of place (terroir), time (the harvest) and personality (the winemaker). Those three things provide for a limitless diversity, and that’s why so many different people love so many different kinds of wine. No dictator can change that.
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — July 11, 2006 8:10pm ET
Totv — La Quinta, CA — July 11, 2006 9:21pm ET
Adam Lee — Santa Rosa, CA — July 11, 2006 11:48pm ET
Robert Gott — Doral/Florida — July 12, 2006 12:35am ET
G G — covington, ky — July 12, 2006 8:19am ET
Dan Jaworek — Chicago — July 12, 2006 9:32am ET
J E Shuey — Dallas, TX — July 12, 2006 9:43am ET
James Molesworth — July 12, 2006 9:47am ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — July 12, 2006 10:22am ET
William Newell — Buffalo, NY — July 12, 2006 11:38am ET
James Molesworth — July 12, 2006 11:57am ET
Elwood Reid — July 12, 2006 1:29pm ET
James Molesworth — July 12, 2006 1:56pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — July 12, 2006 2:03pm ET
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — July 12, 2006 2:45pm ET
James Molesworth — July 12, 2006 4:21pm ET
Dan Jaworek — Chicago — July 12, 2006 4:28pm ET
Scott Cheney — Michigan — July 12, 2006 5:08pm ET
Scott Cheney — Michigan — July 12, 2006 5:37pm ET
James Molesworth — July 12, 2006 6:00pm ET
William Newell — Buffalo, NY — July 13, 2006 10:20am ET
Steve Lenzo — PHX, AZ — July 13, 2006 4:22pm ET
James Molesworth — July 13, 2006 4:36pm ET
Zachary Ross — Brooklyn, NY — July 13, 2006 7:14pm ET
Scott Cheney — Michigan — July 13, 2006 11:06pm ET
William Newell — Buffalo, NY — July 14, 2006 4:12pm ET
David W Cummings — Jacksonville, FL — July 15, 2006 11:02am ET
Stuart Bander — Chicago, Il — July 16, 2006 7:33am ET
Stuart Bander — Chicago, Il — July 16, 2006 7:35am ET
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