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).
'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.'
“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 ....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...... they 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.
So 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.
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