Thursday, June 4, 2009

Politically incorrect

Should one bad mouth or not wine critics ?
They don’t hesitate to say what they think of the wines they analyse, good or bad, as well as the qualities and defects, possible or real of the wines, property owners or consultants.
I understand that a journalist, a critic must do his job, but often (not always), his decision is influenced by his opinions and it can lead to:
Red wine black: good note
Red wine black: bad grade
New wood: good note
New wood: bad Note
Concentrated wine: good note
Concentrated wine: bad Note

Each critic tends to classify only the lesser known or controversial wines (i.e. Pavie)
Take the 1855 1st growths for example: no need to read reviews, because all except the Grand Jury Européen, give the highest marks ...
In the early years of Valandraud all the journalists, except for Parker and Bettane, tended to put the best scores to 1st growths and the likes, even if they had missed the vintage or the wines were insufficient good. In difficult vintages like 91 - 92 - 93 -94. Their noted should be brought back and have them taste the wines blind next to a good challenger.

I organized at my place such event and besides a few knowledgeable perverts able to recognize a good wine and gave it a bad note, everyone else was able to restore successful wines from failures, even if after the "debriefing" (as François Mauss does), the same critics find excuses to icons they are used to give good ratings. Indeed it is difficult for them to change their judgment, their minds, especially if the well-known chateau can take away their access. (as has happened to Jean Marc Quarin or perhaps Michel Bettane).
So everyone starts to use the Bordeaux language politically correct such as "that's interesting" to "terroir" and "elegance" “fruit" or even "tense” "mineral" (as commonly used today).
It is true that all, except 2 or 3, try to do their job well, with their honest rules and that some have become credible by the amount of work done. They also have their clients who agree with their judgments, year after year (even if they are not mine).

Should we, as a friend of mine says, with "humor", about journalists who like his wine and give the highest rating, "they have a good palate, they are competent"
(like the Bordeaux wholesaler who drinks his "margin")
Should we continue to show wine to critics who routinely give you bad ratings? Do I stop, when so many believed would be at least what I see as a bad note?
Why so few journalists go on the field, visit vineyards, the cellar, meet people? While they always go re-visit these 15 to 30 brands – chateaux - icons.

Why so little interest? As if all the vineyards look alike (Philippe Maurange can see when the vines are weeded, Quarin see if the vines are young or old), as if all the wine cellars were clean and smelt good ... As if all aging cellars were without the smell of mold, old barrels, mushrooms! As if bottling was done in the same way, etc ...

Why so few blind tasting? control? Lack of money, time, not useful?
How not to want to check the organic language, expected speeches. Isn’t it their job to seek, to question again and again?
Watch-out, what you’ve said, written. Like with our bottles, there may be someone to check!

Whenever I have the feeling of having to make a false or unfair criticism, I used to say that if I bought or made a bad wine, I would take a financial risk for my business and I would go bankrupt. A journalist or critic that was wrong could also lose its readers. It may take longer and be less serious, but ultimately the credibility of the critic would suffer the same attacks as those of a 1855 cru!
The truth is in the glass.

The real question is above all: is it necessary to taste a wine when we know that we will put a bad note and is it normal to keep on showing our wine to a wine taster who we known in advance he won’t like it, for real or even politically.
Thanks to Bertrand Le Guern for his statistical work which highlights “erratic” notes.
This doesn’t prevent such or such critic who doesn’t like concentrated wine, to be serious and listened to by its readers who share his beliefs and tastes.
I miss Jacques Luxey, the Grand Jury Européen has a similar sense of ethics but doesn’t have the power it deserves.

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