Daisy wasn't listening to me rant about the state of modern wine-writing when I took this picture, but maybe this will be her response in about 15 or 20 years. From all the efforts that I've seen in the new community of wine bloggers, it may be vastly different by then. I hope so because I do believe there is a problem with the previous 10 years.
Problem? Well, yes. The problem is you and me. We have supported a monolithic system of wine evaluation based on buzz and media hype that was really no fault of the practitioners. It is mostly based on fear of failure of wine knowledge, which is quite intimidating, to be sure. Wine is complicated! There are THOUSANDS of choices. How do you choose where to bet (yes, bet) your $5, $10, $20, $50 (Alta !), $100 wine purchase? Ah! Consult the experts. You can see their commentary on every isle.
Now, if you think that I'm going to go Mondovino on you, you are incorrect. I recently saw the film and had a great deal of pleasure following along on the journey of questioning wine globalism, etc. I really enjoyed the film and, while there are surely some disgruntled participants, I think it was a fair representation of the wine business in 2001. A great deal has changed since then, actually, not the least of which was the sale of the Robert Mondavi wineries to Constellation, Inc. Wow, huh?
I should mention at this point that we grow grapes for some Michelle Rolland projects, I deeply appreciate Robert Mondavi and family and all that they have done for our wine business, I've tasted with Robert Parker and worked in Burgundy for an all-too-short stint back in 1989. My wine drinking philosophy is, however, that great wines come in all shapes and sizes which puts me in the camp of many of the more philosophical people in the film. In other words, why has a single standard emerged for popular wine accolades and consumption? Scores. Big, fat scores.
I have seen a lot of press lately on the support of the scoring system from former naysayers and the premise is that the scores give the consumer a reference point for quality. Fair enough. But we have been entrenched in a single model system since scores became popular in the 80's. This is true about most of the wine competitions as well. When was the last time that you saw a delicate, balanced, PERFECT food wine get a 95? Never. It will never happen until there are categories for various styles. Often the accompanying text will describe a higher score but when the reviewer gets down to a score or medal, the old bigger-is-better monster comes in and obliterates any opportunity for a fair assessment based on style.
I had a fun experience the other day when I finally delved into WineLibrary.com. What a hoot. What a great way to get into the process of rubber-hits-the-road wine enjoyment. For those of you that are shy about wine appreciation, I highly (99 points) recommend a visit to gawk at a Gary getting down to business. I have to say, besides Google Earth, this is the best use of the computer/internet that I have experienced. I also want to give a shout out to Alder over at Vinography.com for some of the best, modern wine writing and information out there.
While this post is all over the map, there is a book-length version in my mind. If you come visit, be forewarned: there's much more to all of this and I love to share with visitors. I want to help broaden the base of wine knowledge, make it less intimidating and more accessible and the wine blogging phenomenon is the tip of the iceberg. Let's all talk about categories, shall we?