beat the press

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wine writers (often referred to generically as ‘The Press’) get blamed for all sorts of ills. The 100 point system is a fiendish plot to dictate quality and pin a numerical score on an artistic product. Corporate plonk? It’s The Press, greedy for advertising. High alcohol wines? Blame Robert Parker. In fact, Alice Feiring has built an entire career out of blaming Robert Parker.

I rarely recognize myself in these ranks, though I am lumped in with every other wine writer when fingers are pointed. Which is why the examples of kindness recognized and returned are so delightful. No, I’m not asking wineries or winemakers to suck up to me. I am not offended if they disagree with me. I am happy to be challenged with facts and/or informed opinions. But still it’s rare to get an e-mail such as the one I received yesterday. Without naming names, I will share it with you.

The winery in question is a new boutique. I have absolutely no connection with the owners. I have never met them or visited their winery. Their wines showed up one day last fall, as so many do, with basic pricing, production and technical information included. As happens once in awhile with a new and unknown producer, they immediately jumped out as special. I tasted and re-tasted, checked my impressions against other, known brands, and then happily gave these wines a really good writeup, in several different publications and on this blog.

Often, that’s the end of the story. But here’s what happened next, as the owners write in their e-mail:

“Now that the dust has settled we wanted to let you know the effects the kind words you wrote about our wines have had. Your blog resulted in a number of orders, primarily from the Seattle area but as far afield as Chicago and North Carolina. You have some very nice fans who obviously trust your judgment enough to give our stuff a try.

Your columns motivated area consumers to contact their local wine shops who in turn rang my phone off the hook looking for our local distributor. This, not surprisingly, led to a relationship with our first Washington distributor who, by the way, just reordered.

Then your reviews (and numbers) hit the Wine Enthusiast. More orders from consumers scattered across the country. Our first shipment to Canada (we are international!). And potential new relationships with distributors in the NE and the SE. In short, we are feeling a bit discovered.

You are to blame. Thank you.”

PG: This means more to me than most people would realize. It tells me I have fulfilled the role I set out for myself. To be a critic in the best sense. To be supportive without pandering. To make the discoveries that lead others to the best this region has to offer. It’s nice to know, from time to time, that I have succeeded. I wish these folks all kinds of success, and I hope that they will stay in touch. And if the day comes when I must write a less than glowing review, I hope they will continue the dialogue. More on that tomorrow.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

P.G. sorry you guys get blamed for for allot of ills someone has to take the bullit---so you're like our secret service, that's not so bad. We love your addiction, anybody involved in pain for no money ranks real high on my chart--I was kinda busy and missed that whole Merlot bloggy-cell phone thing---so i'm catching up--i just finished over 2 days a SINEANN 07 Hillside Merlot-------Peter awesome,just awesome-- of course after two days i'm coming up short---so i had to tap into a GIFFORD HIRLINGER 06 Merlot---i love these guys----------Tiny

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