Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Feiring Takes On The Emperor!!!

(above: A child who became an adult.. an adult who became a writer.. a writer who wrote a book.. a book that overcame Parkerization: A Gladiator who defied an Emperor!!!!)

There was some buzz yesterday in the wine world about an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times written by Alice Feiring. The headline of the article reads: ”California wine? Down the drain” and continues with, “Too much technology and a desire to play to the critics have produced overblown, overpriced vintages.” Please click here to read the article.

Ms. Feiring decries the current state of California wine and how it has gone down the toilet since the late 1970’s when California wines “whupped” their French counterparts with offerings that were “classically expressive and mostly low-tech” whereas since that time, “Today's California wines are overblown, over-alcoholed, over-oaked, overpriced and over-manipulated.”

She then goes on to declare that 90% of the rest of the world’s wines are in a similar state. However, just like in Star Wars, there is a new hope as some noble winemakers in France who don’t care about ratings have banded together to reverse this trend.

At the end of the article, we are told about its author: Alice Feiring is a journalist, food critic and the author of the forthcoming book, "The Battle for Wine and Love -- Or How I Saved the World from Parkerization."

So let me add my two cents.

I do have to say that many winemakers have jumped on the bandwagon to make overblown wines. California is certainly as guilty, if not more so, than any other region although I am mystified as to why she failed to mention Australia if she is talking about overblown and overdone stuff.

Also, she lambastes California wine yet goes on to say that we are not alone, and that 90% of the wine world is the same way. Well 90% is a pretty big portion of the whole, so how can you single out California if 90% of the entire wine world is that way?

Then going back to the 1970’s, indeed California “whupped” the French in many competitions but it was because California wines were bolder and more fruit-forward than the French ones. Not because they expressed terroir or were more subtle or earthy or whatever, but because of the fruit. I don’t know where she got the idea they were more “classically expressive.” If the Old-World style is supposed to be the classical style, even back in the 1970’s that was not the way you would describe California wines. California wines as "classically expressive?" Compared to what??

Pretty bold statements she makes. But at the end of the article, we find out why: Ms. Feiring has a forthcoming book with the attention-grabbing title, “The Battle for Wine and Love – Or How I Saved the World From Parkerization.”

Wow, one woman against the world! And against the mighty Parker, no less! Step back, Spaniard is entering the arena!

Give me a break. While there are parts that ring true in her article, it is nothing more than a promotion for her upcoming book. How convenient that her article just happens to appear in the Opinion section of the Times as it is about to be released, eh? I would compare her article and its sensationalist slant to the overblown and overdone California wines she criticizes and their sensationalist, attention-grabbing slant. One sells books, the other sells bottles.

Seems rather hypocritical if you ask me. Is her brand of journalism and low-class attempt to get attention and sell books any better than the California wines she puts down in her article? Whatever happened to tasteful journalism or did that disappear years ago?

Now if Ms. Feiriing ever reads my little blog of nothingness and spreads some vitriol my way, I do admit that I do not possess the same writing skills as she, and can only hope to one day publish a book. But hey, I don’t get paid for writing and I also don’t profit from pandering to the masses to sell what I write.

That said, please note that I have stooped so low as to post a link to Amazon's product page that features her book and I get a miniscule share should anyone actually buy something (anything) after clicking the link. I might as well get in on the pandering while the pandering is good! Here's the link to the book: The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization.


Taster B said...

Great read! I love the consumer pandering parallels you draw between Feiring and the very wine she dismisses.

I am reminded of a quote from Anton Ego in Ratatouille:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up on the editorial. I get the LA Times but it seems to be going in the recycle pile before it even gets cracked open these days, so I would have missed this.

Also, make sure Amazon gets you your affiliate fee for this, since I clicked through from here and bought the book...hoping, of course, that you'll use your earnings to buy over-extracted wine from me!

MonkuWino said...

Great quote, Twister B, and so true! And thanks, Jill - I owe you!

You know, I bet that Feiring's book is a good one and in principle I agree with what she is saying (and would like to read her book, too). What I didn't like was how she seems to be promoting it in the same style that she criticizes for the wine realm.