The World Wide Wine Federation

winewrestling.jpg It used to be said – actually quite often – that wine people are all so nice. But Bacchus got bored of that. Polite disagreements turned into towel-swatting. Towel-swatting turned into fisticuffs. And fisticuffs turned into an all out head-in-the-turnbuckle, tomahawk chopping, pile driving, suplexing brawl. Yes, the world of wine has become like professional wrestling. If you missed such classics as Doghead vs. Parker, Nossiter vs. Rolland, Nossiter vs. Parker, Nossiter vs. Rovani, Squires vs. Broadbent or Robinson vs. Parker, you’re in luck because a rematch of Jonathan Nossiter vs. Robert Parker is currently raging. Nossiter – the filmmaker of Mondovino – has just written a book called Le Gout et le Pouvoir (Taste and Power). Nossiter (via Decanter): 'We live in a strange era characterized it seems by a voluntary and collective abandonment' of individual taste. '[Winemaking] parameters are dictated by an international taste and by champions of this taste – including Robert Parker, The Wine Spectator and certain Spanish critics like José Peñin. They are then produced by taste bureaucrats like Michel Rolland and hundreds of indigenous enologists like Telmo Rodriguez,' says Nossiter in the book. Nossiter praises acidity in wine – suggesting it is 'like light in a film…the quality which animates the wine.' He dubs wines that are too fruity, alcoholic and rich 'Prozac wines', and attacks 'intense marketing efforts' and 'complicit wine journalists' behind them. 'We are in the process of becoming predictable consumers…standardised and lacking any ideological facets,' he says. 'The “global citizen” has become the “universal consumer” of all that is simple and sugared.' Parker (via erobertparker.com): “I guess everyone is getting frazzled by higher and higher wine prices and WMDs(wines of massive deliciousness).....but seriously... anyone with half a chimp's brain can see through Nossiter's transparency easier than a J.J.Prum riesling...it is Nossiter and his ilk(call them the scary wine gestapo)chanting the same stupid hymn that demand wines be produced in only one narrow style.....but bring on the suckers and fools....some one will certainly buy into his propaganda as they did that migraine-inducing disingenuous film......will toast the book tonight with some nebbiolo fruit bombs that I am sure all taste the same lol.gif....Bruno Giacosa,Prunotto,Produttori di Barbaresco,Sandrone,Aldo Conterno,and Cappellano...and that is just the mind and palate numbing reds from producers who have all sacrificed their wine-making souls....and maybe tomorrow I will pull out the identical tasting juice Michel Rolland-the great Satan himself oversees in Bordeaux....let's see....Malescot-St.Exupery,Leoville Poyferre,Ponet Canet,Bon Pasteur,La Vieille Cure.....and of course the devil of all wines.... Pavie...... wine-smilie.gifthey SURE do taste alike! It’s certainly not pretty but probably healthy for promoting wine diversity. Ironically they both argue for diversity and lambast each other for having a narrow palate. Parker definitely isn’t pulling any punches (or Bionic Elbows) and his strategic use of animated smilies shows just how serious this fight is. dogs playing cardsSo who has the wider palate? Who knows? It’s funny how it all comes down to the irresolvable question of taste; irresolvable because taste is always so subjective. Still, I never like when people say things like “whatever wine you like is the right wine for you” because it suggests that there is nothing to understand. It’s a little bit like “I don’t know anything about art but I know what I like” which everyone knows goes hand in hand with appreciating paintings of dogs playing cards. OK, perhaps Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was a genius, but it’s better to come to this conclusion after having a decent knowledge of art in general. So yes, in the end it does come down to what you enjoy regardless of what experts say. And just because you have an expert palate doesn’t mean you have good taste. A few years back I worked on a screening room for a Hollywood mogul; a project that had a barrage of experts including an acoustic consultant. His ears were so highly developed that he could only listen to music played on ultra-high end speakers or headphones. You may know the type: otherwise a perfectly nice guy but your Sony boom box is just not good enough. The day came when the sound system was going live and golden ears brought in the inaugural CD. My mind reeled. Was it going to be Bach, Mozart, Corelli, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff? Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald? No, it was Steely Dan. Steely f***ing Dan! Let’s face it, other people have bad taste.

5 Comments

Steve De Long
Steve De Long

June 16, 2014

Hi Eric,
Yes, it’s all cartoon-like, but being thoughtful and sensible would sell far less books!

I found Mondovino interesting for exactly the same reason you did and it’s easy to see how Rolland, Parker, Suckling, etc must feel betrayed. Nossiter’s polemics aside, it was an welcome glimpse into the opaque world of wine.

Eric Lecours
Eric Lecours

June 16, 2014

The discourse here is reminiscent of recent international relations and politics. There is no acknowledgment to validity in any of the other side’s views or positions. The approach that the other’s opinion is groundless, the other, a fool, is…infantile. In essence: I’m 100% right, you’re 100% wrong. I’m good, you’re evil. I’m enlightened, you’re retarded…not exactly sophisticated.

Nossiter’s film is an editorial, not an objective documentary; that is for sure. He duped the antagonists into believing they were protagonists. They let their guard down and were sincere. It’s not always pretty when people tell you what they really think. More than learning their opinions, you get a glimpse into their real attitudes and character, who they really are. It’s like those rare occasions where politicians forget the microphone is still on and one learns more than they want known. That is what is intriguing about the film for so many. Someone left the microphone on, which evidently won’t be allowed to happen again.

But this is not politics or foreign intervention, these are editorials on wine and its direction. Let’s leave the simplistic, “you’re retarded” discourse on the primary school playground for the teacher-on-duty to sort out.

Steve De Long
Steve De Long

June 16, 2014

Thanks, Marcus!

Yes, the art/craft relationship is very interesting and important. The 1855 classification of Bordeaux was done for a world exhibition that showed off industrial products of exhibiting countries. The same wines are now auctioned by Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The fact remains that wine is and always was a craft, albeit a fine one.

Marcus
Marcus

June 16, 2014

This is great! You’re last line sums it up perfectly. These are people who cannot settle on the terms on which to operate, and as such can always arrive at a formula that makes them ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. And why wouldn’t they find that equation? Isn’t wine actually a craft that problematically lends itself an appreciation normally allotted to an art? To me the art/craft split is the linchpin from which all the Saturday smackdowns shall follow. Because disputes like these are not over being able to proclaim one’s own taste in assessing wine — that’s why you found it ironic. The dispute is over where to put the line that separates an impressionistic proclamation from more discerning judgments that are either true or false. Parker thinks Nossiter acts to restrict wine craftmanship; Nossiter thinks Parker acts to restrict wine craftmanship. Yet each thinks the other is doing so by conflating a somewhat interpretive artistic dichotomy into a convergent exercise.

As for the Steely Dan anecdote, it now turns out music is NOT unrelated to wine appreciation, so you’ve now been warned.

buena evista
buena evista

June 16, 2014

evista club evista 1

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