Last week, Steve Heimoff wrote a book review of two new books. In the review, he accused Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy of receiving money for placing labels in their soon-to-be-released American Wine. He also gets in a bit of name-calling as he says Robinson's name is "over-exposed," but that is not my fight to fight. Though I do not agree with is opinion of the content of the book, he is more than welcome to it. However, Heimoff seems content to only make mention the California regions he surrounds himself with, and I have to wonder (I’m just raising the question, not making any allegations) if Heimoff actually read the whole book. It is pretty sleezy to review a book without actually reading it.
Heimoff claims that there are no new interpretations or new innovative takes to be found in the book. That may be true, but the breadth
of American Wine is what makes it a good book.What other book that covers the entire modern American wine industry
devotes as much coverage to wines from Colorado, Michigan, or Virginia? Over half of the 8,000+ wineries in the U.S. are not in California and American Wine celebrates that fact. That is the new
interpretation of the new world of wine we live in. People are starting
to realize that there is wine made where they live that is worthy of
drinking. People want to learn about wine from states that don’t border
the Pacific Ocean.
Linda Murphy also commented on the post, scolding Heimoff for making wild accusations about how labels in the book were chosen. Heimoff did not so much as acknowledge either of our comments about his review. This is not a new thing for me. Ever since I called Heimoff out on the errors in his Pritchard Hill story for Wine Enthusiast, he has not responded to any of my comments on his blog. I can understand that he thinks I am beneath him and he wouldn't want to engage in a discussion with a simple blogger like me, but I figured that he'd at least respond to Linda Murphy. Nope, nothing for a week.
So yesterday, I posted another comment. Unfortunately, that comment has been erased from history by Heimoff. I really wish I had taken a screen shot before it was removed, but alas I didn't. What the comment said was something like this:
Steve, why do you fall silent when some criticize you? You seem to take pleasure in mocking Jancis Robinson and Antonio Galloni, yet when Linda Murphy or I call you out, you fail to respond. You made some pretty wild accusations about how Linda and Jancis chose labels for their book. Don't you think you owe Linda a response. And why are you falsely (and negatively) accusing them of doing something your magazine does? And I quote from the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide, "Labels are paid promotions. Producers and importers are given the opportunity to submit labels, which are reproduced and printed along with tasting notes and scores. For information on label purchases, contact..." You are being quite hypocritical for accusing others of doing what your employer does on a regular basis. I hope (but doubt, as that is par for the Heimoff course) that you will now take the time to respond and explain yourself.
So that lived on the Internet for about an hour before Heimoff decided he wasn't up to the task of defending himself. I've now also been banned from posting on his blog. I rarely agree with what Steve has to say, but I admire his willingness to say what he thinks and to do it day in and day out. I know many others in the industry who feel the same way. I also valued my opportunity to attempt to engage him in a discussion/argument about the topic du jour. His blogging is one of the things that set himself apart from the other Ivory Tower critics of the wine world. Yet, Heimoff often rants against Robert Parker and the Wine Advocate (as he did yesterday, where he attempted to swoon and belittle wineries at the same time), but he sorely wants to be just like Parker. He dearly desires to have the same influence and power that Parker yields. One of the biggest complaints I've seen about Parker is that he silenced his critics on his online bulletin board. Heimoff is slowly getting what he wants (even if his reputation is not increasing they way he wants). The best part of the modern wine writing world is the ability to engage with each other. Heimoff has decided that silencing his critics, and going backwards at the same time, is more important than continuing down the path towards progress in democratizing wine. Oh, and did I mention that Steve Heimoff doesn't like me...?