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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dr. Oldman on the Wine Writers Symposium

I was in Napa Valley two weeks ago for Premiere Napa Valley, but I was unable to attend the Wine Writers Symposium. Others have written a few accounts of what transpired during the workshops and sessions at the secluded Meadowood Napa Valley resort and spa. With not being there, I find it interesting to hear about the fun and informative events attended by a whole host of wine writers. I think it is pretty cool that simple bloggers, or people new to the world of wine writing, can hang out with established writers from Food & Wine, Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast as well as columnists from the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Wall Street Journal. My extern, Dr. Harry Oldman, was disappointed that I was not going to chime in on an event that I did not attend, so he asked if he could. I know I shouldn't let him post anymore, but he can be very persuasive...


Every year around this time a bunch of wannabe wine writers gather in Napa to suck off the teat of those who know what they're doing. Obviously, I didn't go; I'm not a professional wine writer. Apparently, I'm the worst the kind of writer: a blogger. This is now the fifth guest post I've penned and I feel dirtier every time I do it. I'm surprised my dog still can stand by my side. I guess an animal that licks its own butt isn't too discriminating. However, my stench makes me wonder how some of those in attendance made it past the Meadowood bouncer?

I didn't attend the event, but that won't stop me from commenting on it. All my information about the symposium comes from what others have written. And from what I can tell, the future of wine writing is in danger. The great prognosticators are getting up there in years and no one has yet proven to the world that they can adequately fill Bob's, Steve's or Jim's shoes. The profession mustn't fall into the hands of incompetents who by virtue of hitting the “publish” button claim to be writers. Ill-informed nonsense for all the world to see is continuously spread this way. No, sir.

After the symposium I expected to read about all the new faces among the Pantheon that I could follow from the very start. But all I found was one thing. Robert. M. Parker. Jr. All everyone was writing about was Mr. Parker's keynote lecture. Why are there no blog posts on sessions like "Enhance Your Writing With Visual Images" or "The Multiple Personalities of Chardonnay?" Mr. Parker's new boss led a session on "Identifying Wine Sensory Attributes and Flaws," but apparently so did Jon Bonné and Eric Asimov. I have it on good authority that the session was a disaster showcasing largely emaciated, excessively acidic, hollow wines! Apparently many of the attendees were turned off and left wondering how wine writing could intentionally go down such a losing path!

The lineup of unexpected Napa Valley wines. 
Photo by Bob McClenahan
What the hell, people? Why would anyone waste their money on the likes of chenin blanc and albariño from Napa Valley? Massican and Matthiasson are like the M&M's of wine; they just melt your mouth with their minerality. And don't get me started on the reds. Where's the Turley that used love with its sweet sledgehammer booziness? Mt. Veeder syrah, come on! Oh, and that darling Corison with her cabernet that's built like a baby's bottom all smooth and supple. I want a cab that makes me feel like I'm kissing a drunk lumberjack! Now, how's that for enhancing wine writing with a visual image?

Jon Bonné seeking sage advice...
Photo by Bob McClenahan
No, everyone was just writing about Mr. Parker because he's obviously the only wine writer worth his weight in corks. All the wannabes had to get their claws out and try to scratch their way to the top. Bobby was at least polite enough to wish them success as he flicked them back down to their smials in Blogshire. Speaking of a shire, doesn't Jon Bonné looking like Sméagol quivering in the presence of Gandalf? There is only one writer to rule them all, one writer to find them, one writer to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. Jon, take off the ring before you too are emaciated, excessively acidic and hollow.

So, in conclusion, I ask all the bloggers who think they can save wine writing to come back when you have an original thought. Rehashing Bob's generous speech and attacking his appearance most definitely is not how real wine writers behave.

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