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chiguire
08-26-2012, 10:06 PM
I am currently reading Alice Feiring's "The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization."

I have to say that I am devouring the book and have finished over half the book in less than a day, but oddly, I find myself furious with Alice Feiring at times and at odds with many (not all) of her ideas.

She is a die hard proponent of what she calls "authentic" wine and a champion of biodynamic winemaking. I am not opposed to either but it seems like she is at war with anyone who disagrees with her. I am all for the romance of the old ways of making wine, but I don't tear up when wine makers decide to use non-native yeast to get a strong clean fermentation or bentonite to clear their wine. Some of the other practices of the industry today do bother me, reverse osmosis of the wine to lower the alcohol and adjust flavor is an one of them.

Has anyone else read this book and would like to engage in a conversation about it?

akueck
08-26-2012, 10:29 PM
Haven't read it, but it sure sounds interesting. I do know a little bit of at least the hearsay about wineries tailoring their offerings to fit Mr Parker's palate. And that pisses me off. :mad: On the other hand, arbitrarily defining "authentic" wine and then championing it seems essentially the same. What, did she pick 1920s Bordeaux as the exemplar and all other wine is impostor swill?

I do think modern mega-wineries that focus on volume have divorced the ideas of growing vines and making wine (I like to think of it as "growing wine"), and that is a net loss for us all. Over-reliance on commercial yeast, fancy technology, and all that facilitates the production of wine as a mass-produced commodity. Essentially it turns wine into Bud Lite--flavorless, soulless, but cheap alcohol. (think those Carlo Rossi jugs that are so excellent for small fermenters.) So...that is all not so good. But there are plenty of winemakers who don't go that route, and personally I get all my wine from them. "Vote with your wallet" tends to work fairly well, at least for those of us lucky enough to be able to pay the extra few dollars a bottle.

On the other hand, people buy a lot of Carlo Rossi. Is it because they just don't know better? I would say yes, but then I am a wine snob with at least some disposable income. If we swapped out the jug wine for Opus One, I feel that more people would be upset than relieved. Bottom line? There's no accounting for taste.

chiguire
08-27-2012, 12:04 AM
Haven't read it, but it sure sounds interesting. I do know a little bit of at least the hearsay about wineries tailoring their offerings to fit Mr Parker's palate. And that pisses me off. :mad: On the other hand, arbitrarily defining "authentic" wine and then championing it seems essentially the same. What, did she pick 1920s Bordeaux as the exemplar and all other wine is impostor swill?

I do think modern mega-wineries that focus on volume have divorced the ideas of growing vines and making wine (I like to think of it as "growing wine"), and that is a net loss for us all. Over-reliance on commercial yeast, fancy technology, and all that facilitates the production of wine as a mass-produced commodity. Essentially it turns wine into Bud Lite--flavorless, soulless, but cheap alcohol. (think those Carlo Rossi jugs that are so excellent for small fermenters.) So...that is all not so good. But there are plenty of winemakers who don't go that route, and personally I get all my wine from them. "Vote with your wallet" tends to work fairly well, at least for those of us lucky enough to be able to pay the extra few dollars a bottle.

On the other hand, people buy a lot of Carlo Rossi. Is it because they just don't know better? I would say yes, but then I am a wine snob with at least some disposable income. If we swapped out the jug wine for Opus One, I feel that more people would be upset than relieved. Bottom line? There's no accounting for taste.

I agree with you, akueck, but the alarming thing is that she points the finger at the majority of the industry, not just the Carlo Rossis and the Yellow Tails of wine. When she is talking about reverse osmosis and a guy that performs the process as a contractor, it says that something like 45% of the high-end California wineries do it. Expensive wines have this done to them too! She hates micro-oxygenation, barriques, acidification, tannin addition, color alteration, yeast addition and many many other things.

She does not only advocate expensive wines, although many expensive wine experiences make their way into the book, but she advocates an incredibly low-tech wine, and furthermore she champions biodynamics, which I think is bunk.

She is really really dogmatic, and that bothers me, yet, I find myself utterly taken in by the book.

I'll give a report after I finish the book, but, it may be a book that would interest you.

Chevette Girl
08-27-2012, 01:33 AM
Huh, thanks for bringing this up. I may have to go look for it. I don't use "native yeast" but I do prefer to see what the wine does naturally aside from that (and of course nutrients and energizer because it's not grapes), I rarely backsweeten even though I know I prefer sweeter wines because I don't generally like to bother stabilizing, and I only use clarifiers if 2-3 years of sitting around hasn't done the trick... Some of it's laziness, some of it's not wanting to mess with it, but I certainly would never tell someone else to to the exact same as I do because I KNOW my taste in wines does not align with that of most wine snobs (I like Yellow Tail, although I don't have much use for Rossi aside from as carboys) and generally the stuff I don't share because I don't like it ends up being what the wine snobs prefer. Of course, I'm already in the wine snob's bad books because I generally find grape wines boring and prefer fruit wines and meads...

chiguire
08-28-2012, 10:21 AM
Finished -

Here is the review of it that I wrote on my Goodreads page (I gave it 3 out of 5 stars) -


I really struggled to rate this book, because even though Alice Feiring infuriated me at times, and I found myself completely at odds with many of her statements,I found myself utterly taken in by the book and plowed through it in a very short amount of time. It should also be stated that I agreed with many of her statements too. Like Alice, I find the ubiquitous use of practices that overly alter the "natural" state of wine distasteful, and I find the idea of tailoring wine to appease the palate of a few influential wine critics' palates abhorrent. However - at times I like big bold and in your face flavors, and at times I like rich oak, while at other times I like the subtlety that Feiring appreciates. Furthermore, Feiring champions biodynamic growing, which in my mind, is bunk. I support growers really caring for their vineyards and bonding with them on a level that few of us can imagine, but howling at the moon and burying a horn full of manure will not make wine better. As a scientist, I do not appreciate her occasional anti-science commentary. Also - without mincing words, Alice Feiring, is at times a hypocrite. She berates Parker for not allowing for other points of view and wine preferences and for saying, "What I like is good and all the rest is junk," but she consistently says the exact same thing, belittling wines that do not conform to her philosophy of "what wine should be." However, I must say the even though she is occasionally a hypocrite, she is an endearing one, and I would love to learn from her and taste at any event she might host.

Any wine-lover would benefit from reading this book, even if they do not agree with the author, and the gems of mind-blowing wine experiences that pepper the book make it a rewarding read.

On another note - I paid $13 dollars for this book and I would be willing to ship it to anyone in the US (Sorry international friends) for $6. Let me know if any of you want it. akueck, gets first dibs, if he wants it.

Whatshisface
08-28-2012, 12:56 PM
Chevette Girl - We are definitely on the same page, my final gravities usually run ~1.030 sometimes lower. I love other fruits like Raspberry and Blueberry meads and wines. Iíve been making cysers for years. I think we need replace our current wine snobs with Neo-Snobs following our own tastes. :)

akueck
08-28-2012, 09:24 PM
Sure, I'll take it. Remind me to send you my address. :)

Medsen Fey
08-28-2012, 10:08 PM
I haven't read the book yet, but you've got me interested in it. Mr. Parker has taken a lot of criticism lately, and probably deserves some, though he isn't forcing anyone to buy wines that he likes or to make wines in the style he prefers. There is a free market, and I can stop in to the local Total Wines store and find umpteen thousand different wines in so many styles that it makes my head spin. Or I can make my own.

Ultimately, I don't give a darn what techniques a vintner uses. Let them use whatever makes the wine taste best for them, or let them make whatever compromises in quality that they choose in order to keep a price point. I only care about how I like it (I'm selfish that way :) ) and if it tastes good to me and I can afford it, I'm not concerned whether it is biodynamic, barriqued, pasteurized or Parkerized.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

ken_schramm
08-29-2012, 09:17 AM
My quick takes on this:

I haven't read Alice's book, although I participate in a discussion board on which we both contribute, and have read her blog many times. Alice is interesting and enjoyable, but she's not the most eloquent or lucid wine writer on the field these days. She can be strident, and tends to shoot from the hip. Both the natural wine crowd and the mega-wine backers sneer at each other, frequently with vitriol that creates its own set of polarities; both sides are guilty of demonization and defensiveness. There are times I wish she were a little more reflective, and did a little more research. I don't know if she's ever actually conducted a fermentation. She's still worth reading as part of a balanced diet.

Parker has seriously damaged his own brand and credibility through his associations with individuals who have been identified with high end wine counterfeiting. Rudy Kurniawan, Hardy Rodenstock and Daniel Oliveros and Jeff Sokolin of Royal Wine Merchants. If you are looking for reads on that, you may want to start with Wallace's "The Billionaire's Vinegar." In any case, it appears that Parker went from being an "Advocate" for the little guy to someone with a strong desire to get his nose into glasses of the most expensive and rare things he could find, even if provenance was not well documented and the nature of the individuals with whom he was drinking was sketchy. "Parkerization" is another story, but I think there is a grain of truth in the notion that over-extracted messes tend to bore through in massive days of tasting, in the same sense that savage, monster double IPAs tend to win brewing competitions, and then overwhelm you when you try to drink a whole pint with a plate of food.

The biodynamic thing is a crazy, superstitious, almost inexplicable growing system that has produced some of the best wines I have ever tasted. If you have not had a couple of dozen bio/"natural" wines, compared head-to-head with industrially-produced examples, I would strongly recommend the experience. As I have said at various speaking engagements, Chambers Street Wines in NYC is a great place to start (no commercial relationship, just a very satisfied customer). I do not deny that Rudolf Steiner was a lunatic, and that his practices are difficult to rationalize to modern agriculturalists. I think the whole burying-the-horn deal is a vestigial idiosyncrasy, and that most of the benefit comes from the way bio growers treat the soil, the fruit, and make harvesting decisions. The craziest thing is that it works. Whatever the reason, I have found that the percentage of really desirable bio-producer wines far exceeds the percentage of desirable industrial ones. They also tend to make lower-alcohol, lighter wines that can be tasty through 3-4 glasses. Yes, you can run into some funk and twang. If you order from CSW, you can ask them to steer clear of big funk and twang, and they'll oblige. Funk and twang, on the other hand, is why I love microbrews (especially Belgians) and don't drink Bud or Miller.

As brewers and mead makers, we have a higher degree of tolerance, even reverence, for things like pitched yeasts, because without them, we just wouldn't get mead or beer. I have a measure of forgiveness for nutrient additions, because I made so many atrocious meads before I knew why they are needed and started using them. But I remain committed to fidelity to my honeys, spices and fruit, so I avoid fining, filtration and chemicals wherever possible, and I try to keep the process as minimalist as I can.

Given all of that, I am very much impressed with many of the wines coming out of the bio/natural movement. I am also impressed with the abilities of the winemakers to create such wines without the assistance of technical tools and tricks for correcting or hiding flaws. Neither pitched yeast nor nutrient is needed to make a fantastic wine. I look at it very much like the ability of vocal performers to sing on key without pitch correction. If you can sound great without pitch correction, I think you're a better singer than someone who sounds like crap without it. If bio/natural winemakers can make wines that rock without tricks or corrective measures, well, bully for them, and I will drink them, and I will learn what I can from them. There is no man so dim he has nothing to teach, and none so smart he has nothing to learn. (Forgive the sexism, please, in the interest of clarity and brevity.)

KDS

chiguire
08-29-2012, 05:00 PM
Ultimately, I don't give a darn what techniques a vintner uses. Let them use whatever makes the wine taste best for them, or let them make whatever compromises in quality that they choose in order to keep a price point. I only care about how I like it (I'm selfish that way :) ) and if it tastes good to me and I can afford it, I'm not concerned whether it is biodynamic, barriqued, pasteurized or Parkerized.


I think that ultimately, I agree with you. Thanks for chiming in.



The biodynamic thing is a crazy, superstitious, almost inexplicable growing system that has produced some of the best wines I have ever tasted. If you have not had a couple of dozen bio/"natural" wines, compared head-to-head with industrially-produced examples, I would strongly recommend the experience. As I have said at various speaking engagements, Chambers Street Wines in NYC is a great place to start (no commercial relationship, just a very satisfied customer). I do not deny that Rudolf Steiner was a lunatic, and that his practices are difficult to rationalize to modern agriculturalists. I think the whole burying-the-horn deal is a vestigial idiosyncrasy, and that most of the benefit comes from the way bio growers treat the soil, the fruit, and make harvesting decisions. The craziest thing is that it works. Whatever the reason, I have found that the percentage of really desirable bio-producer wines far exceeds the percentage of desirable industrial ones. They also tend to make lower- alcohol, lighter wines that can be tasty through 3-4 glasses. Yes, you can run into some funk and twang. If you order from CSW, you can ask them to steer clear of big funk and twang, and they'll oblige. Funk and twang, on the other hand, is why I love microbrews (especially Belgians) and don't drink Bud or Miller.


Thanks, Ken, for your input. Your experience and breadth of knowledge is very much appreciated by me. I have also drunken some REALLY delicious bio-dynamic wine. No doubt that it can produce excellence. I guess my skepticism is focused on why it tastes excellent. Furthermore, I am a bit skeptical that one would be able to point out the bio-dynamic wine in a triangle test or in some other non-biased blind tasting; but, I could be very wrong. I have to admit that my palate is not a trained and sculpted tool. I do drink a decent amount of wine, and I do enjoy good wine, but I am sure I am inexperienced compared to you and many others.

I think that ultimately someone should drink what they like, however, I think they should always maintain an adventurous attitude and try to consistently expand the palate. As they do that, what one likes is bound to change and evolve.

I raise my glass to good wine where ever it may be found. Cheers.

ken_schramm
08-29-2012, 10:32 PM
I think that ultimately, I agree with you. Thanks for chiming in.

Thanks, Ken, for your input. Your experience and breadth of knowledge is very much appreciated by me. I have also drunken some REALLY delicious bio-dynamic wine. No doubt that it can produce excellence. I guess my skepticism is focused on why it tastes excellent. Furthermore, I am a bit skeptical that one would be able to point out the bio-dynamic wine in a triangle test or in some other non-biased blind tasting; but, I could be very wrong. I have to admit that my palate is not a trained and sculpted tool. I do drink a decent amount of wine, and I do enjoy good wine, but I am sure I am inexperienced compared to you and many others.

I think that ultimately someone should drink what they like, however, I think they should always maintain an adventurous attitude and try to consistently expand the palate. As they do that, what one likes is bound to change and evolve.

I raise my glass to good wine where ever it may be found. Cheers.

Initially, I was a huge skeptic of bio/natural, and found myself on the other side of the argument, defending tricks and interventions as ways to make better wine. I was swayed by just such a blind three way test. I wasn't asked to pick the "bio" wine, I was asked to pick the best one. I did not even know there was a "natural" wine in the mix. I was served blind three different Chardonnays, a noteworthy, highly rated $50 conventional (AKA: industrial) California chard, a $50 conventionally produced French chard, and a $25 "natural" French wine from Domaine de Roally. I was allowed to taste and sniff extensively, and asked to pick the best of the three. In virtually every aspect - structure, freshness, vibrant acidity, fidelity to fruit and general drinkability, the Roally came out on top.

I have had the same experience, albeit not blind, with Beaujolais and Italian Bonarda. By comparison, the conventionally produced wines in the line-ups, while not cheap, were flaccid, homogenized and lacked complexity and character.

This is not to say that I have not had "industrially" produced wines that I have enjoyed - I have - many, in fact. Nor is it to say that I have not had bio/natural wines that were nasty - I have. But I do hold in higher regard those who can craft a great wine with a minimum of intervention, and I appreciate it when they can leave as many chemicals out of what I am putting in my body as they possibly can. That may not make a difference to others, but it does to me. Medsen, I'll defend your right to put whatever you want to into your body - I'm pretty libertarian when it comes to stuff like that. To each his own.

Chevette Girl
08-29-2012, 10:44 PM
I really like the idea of doing everything sustainably, with no pesticides, and not a lot of chemicals added (being a flower child at heart), but given that some of my favourite guilty pleasure junk foods are more chemical than food, I'd be a total hypocrite if I refused to use something that would make my wines taste better just because it's not natural. I dislike the idea of sulphites and I'm reluctant to use them most of the time (they make me wheeze if I inhale too close to my sanitizing solution but I seem to have no problems drinking sulphites), but I also dislike popped corks or the scare of bottle bombs, so if it's anything but dry and/or well-aged, it's the lesser of the evils...

The idea of being true to the fruit and any other ingredients is great if you've got the skill to make it taste as great. And if you don't, you do what you can with what you've got, right?

chiguire
08-30-2012, 02:14 PM
Initially, I was a huge skeptic of bio/natural, and found myself on the other side of the argument, defending tricks and interventions as ways to make better wine. I was swayed by just such a blind three way test. I wasn't asked to pick the "bio" wine, I was asked to pick the best one. I did not even know there was a "natural" wine in the mix. I was served blind three different Chardonnays, a noteworthy, highly rated $50 conventional (AKA: industrial) California chard, a $50 conventionally produced French chard, and a $25 "natural" French wine from Domaine de Roally. I was allowed to taste and sniff extensively, and asked to pick the best of the three. In virtually every aspect - structure, freshness, vibrant acidity, fidelity to fruit and general drinkability, the Roally came out on top.

I have had the same experience, albeit not blind, with Beaujolais and Italian Bonarda. By comparison, the conventionally produced wines in the line-ups, while not cheap, were flaccid, homogenized and lacked complexity and character.

This is not to say that I have not had "industrially" produced wines that I have enjoyed - I have - many, in fact. Nor is it to say that I have not had bio/natural wines that were nasty - I have. But I do hold in higher regard those who can craft a great wine with a minimum of intervention, and I appreciate it when they can leave as many chemicals out of what I am putting in my body as they possibly can. That may not make a difference to others, but it does to me. Medsen, I'll defend your right to put whatever you want to into your body - I'm pretty libertarian when it comes to stuff like that. To each his own.

I find this endlessly fascinating! Thanks for posting your experience with the blind tasting. I do not trust my objectivity enough to conclude much without blind tastings to back it up, so I really appreciate this type of data. I am going to have to perform a similar experiment at some point. Thanks!

akueck
08-30-2012, 08:00 PM
Some of the wines we really liked in CA were dry-farmed, very "natural" processing, etc. I've had some very good biodynamic wines as well, though not from the horn-burying sort. Although...we did visit a winery in NZ that did the whole moon-timing horn-burying group-chanting thing. The wine was good, though not amazingly so. And I've had some natural wine that tasted like cherries, no matter what the grape was.

In general I'm a big fan of terroir, recycling lees and spent must solids to promote a "house culture", and generally letting things vary a lot year to year. It just doesn't fit with the McDonald's culture of "I can get the same thing every time, every place". Which is fine, as long as I have the option to get what I want on the fringes. ;D

TheAlchemist
09-03-2012, 05:29 PM
In general I'm a big fan of terroir, recycling lees and spent must solids to promote a "house culture", and generally letting things vary a lot year to year. It just doesn't fit with the McDonald's culture of "I can get the same thing every time, every place". Which is fine, as long as I have the option to get what I want on the fringes. ;D

Aaron, are you using recycled lees to make mead, or do you use them for something else( quick breads, in my case)?

If you're pitching recycled lees, I'd be very interested in how you do that.

akueck
09-03-2012, 05:48 PM
In the past I've chucked lees in the garden. I've also harvested "wild" yeast (from a different garden...). Now that I've got a garden again, I'll probably start dumping the lees (and leftover fruit, etc) out in the yard. And I definitely want to capture more airborne yeast. In theory, I could loop things through and eventually get a mix of strains good for fermenting living in the woods. ;D

For beers I'll save and pitch yeast, at least through several generations.

wildoates
09-05-2012, 12:37 AM
Interesting thread!

akueck
09-05-2012, 09:10 PM
The book arrived today! Two pages in and I'm rolling my eyes a little at the superhero complex the author seems to have. We'll see how things develop.

Chevette Girl
09-05-2012, 09:14 PM
;D Keep us posted!

akueck
09-09-2012, 07:57 AM
So. I'm about 90 pages in now.

I feel that there is a fundamental disconnect between the purported object of the book (to educate the Parker-point-loving, Yellow Tail-drinking, mostly American audience) and the audience the author is actually speaking to. So far the book reads more like a memoir "How I traveled the world drinking with these important people (let me name drop some...I shared a bottle with James Gandolfini!) and sipping on $500 bottles that aren't exported to the US, and why that makes me a sophisticated person who also is a supertaster".

Confession: I am a wine snob. I am, I know this to be true. However, I feel I am not totally disconnected from the world where price and availability are two very important axes. You can't berate people for drinking Yellow Tail (at one point she mentions that people who live in the Catskills are basically backwards hicks, but Oh! you can find hicks drinking the same sh!t in NYC too) and then prescribe for them bottles that they either can't find or can't afford.

<wine snobbery = on> As someone who has traveled to several of the world's wine regions (none in Europe though), and lived within an hour's drive of two of them, I know that what you get in the export market is not a good representation of the "authentic" (this is a word she drills home a lot) wines of the region. The good stuff isn't made in large quantities and doesn't travel far. Even finding good CA wine in NY, when I know what to look for, is difficult--and that's not even across an international border. </snobbery> She travels to France to get French wine. How is this supposed to help anyone who isn't going to France?

If the goal of this book is to get people excited about local variations in wine, talking about irrigation practices at Opus One is really not the way to go about it. How many people will ever open a bottle of that stuff? I feel like if she really wants to be the superhero of terroir and the prophet of good wine for the people, she needs to rein in the "I drink better wine than you, and here's proof" themes. Nobody changes their mind after hearing you say "I'm better than you, and therefore you should be more like me". I would personally find this book more useful (and hopefully these things come up in the rest of the book, but I doubt it) if she went through all the regions she is visiting (mostly in France) and chronicling the kinds of flavors she thinks are authentic and then the producers who do that and the importers who bring their wine to the US. Alice's Guidebook to Authentic French Wine.

As a side note, she's got a total hard-on for Old World wine. Ostensibly, this is because it is "authentic" in a way that New World is not. But, <snobbery on> I've had some very authentic wine in Peru made in the style that's been there since the 1500s. Presumably 500 years of tradition is enough to qualify it as authentic? It's sweet and boozy and slightly cooked, being made in a desert where the vines are irrigated by yearly floods and a trickle of water from 1000-year old aqueducts. Presumably 1000-year-old aqueducts pass the test of "authentic" as well? Nothing says "Peruvian desert" like these wines, but being totally different than the Old World, and especially France, I'm betting she'd hate them. </snobbery>

So that's where I am now. If I'm lucky the book will take a turn for the better, but so far it's more infuriating than informative.

wildoates
09-09-2012, 01:52 PM
Ya know, I'm a free-market kind o' gal, and I firmly believe that mass marketing wine is a good thing for all involved. Most of us cannot afford to spend $500 on a bottle of free-range wine (so to speak), but with the de-mystification of wine so the common folk can both afford and appreciate it (even if it's not expensive or vintage wine), more people have started to drink the Yellow Tails of the wine world. This is only for the good, for a whole host of reasons:


Vintners make money making an honest product for honest people who appreciate the taste and can afford to purchase it often enough to provide a tidy profit for the winemakers, however mass-produced and mass-marketed it is.

Those vintners can therefore put out smaller batches of higher quality wine, which the profits of the lesser wines make possible (it takes longer to make them, and the revenue needs to keep coming in from somewhere).

The average Joe and Jane get to enjoy eminently affordable and drinkable--if not of sterling vintage--wine with their fish and fowl and they are then introduced to, the idea at least, of the pleasures of wine, as well as what they like and do not like--and are more likely to eventually venture into the more expensive wine bracket once they are more comfortable with all the above and don't feel like they're risking their hard earned money on something that they don't like and isn't worth it to them.

The middlemen and -women make money too, which is also a win.


If someone wants to drink only expensive wine, I say go for it, all the power to ya, etc. But don't look down on people who put out a product that other people appreciate, just because you think it's beneath your notice. And definitely don't turn your nose up at the people who enjoy that product.

TheAlchemist
09-09-2012, 09:13 PM
I can't wait 'til Aaron and Ken take their Wine Tour Of The World...and write their memoir about it...now that's a book I'd pay to read!

As for Alice, I don't reckon I'll be investing in her tome...

chiguire
09-21-2012, 04:25 PM
Thanks, Aaron, for your input. I think that you make good points in your synthesis. I completely read it as a memoir and not as anything else, and while she did infuriate me, I was totally taken in by the book. I hope the read does not turn out to be a complete waste of time.


Ya know, I'm a free-market kind o' gal, and I firmly believe that mass marketing wine is a good thing for all involved. Most of us cannot afford to spend $500 on a bottle of free-range wine (so to speak), but with the de-mystification of wine so the common folk can both afford and appreciate it (even if it's not expensive or vintage wine), more people have started to drink the Yellow Tails of the wine world. This is only for the good, for a whole host of reasons:


Feiring's message is not that the only good wine is wine that is impossible to find and impossibly expensive. She is an advocate of good price-points as well. I have nothing against the Yellow Tails of the world. I am a beer and wine snob, and while I do not regularly enjoy drinking Yellow Tails and Budweisers, I do recognize that there is a place and consumer for those things -- and I have been known to drink both if the setting is appropriate.

chiguire
09-21-2012, 04:26 PM
As for Alice, I don't reckon I'll be investing in her tome...

It is not a tome. It is a short and light read...

akueck
09-21-2012, 06:28 PM
I haven't been totally engrossed in the book, but I am nearly done at this point. (been kind of busy...)

I think my takeaway here is that it would be a blast to taste with this woman. But not being able to have an actual conversation with a printed book is rather frustrating. I think she'd be a lot more fun in person.

Also she needs to spend some time in the New World. Not all organic, biodynamic, wild yeast, "authentic" wines are made in western Europe. If she's interested, I'd gladly take her on a tour of some of our favorites back in CA.

akueck
09-27-2012, 01:59 PM
All done! If someone else wants to read it, shoot me a PM and I'll mail it off.

crowquill
09-27-2012, 03:58 PM
I'm coming in late to this discussion, but I read Feiring's book awhile ago and found it absolutely delightful. She's opinionated but there's also a sly sense of humor that I enjoyed even when I disagreed with her. I'm generally sympathetic to her view of wine, but I'm nowhere near as dogmatic. I even like a Parkerized fruit bomb now and again.

As to the biodynamic agriculture -- yeah, that stuff sounds wacky and I don't believe burying a cow horn is really helping the wine. But at the same time, I think the best sangiovese I ever tasted came from one of those growers. I'm happy to shrug my shoulders and take another sip when the topic comes up.

chiguire
09-27-2012, 04:20 PM
I'm coming in late to this discussion, but I read Feiring's book awhile ago and found it absolutely delightful. She's opinionated but there's also a sly sense of humor that I enjoyed even when I disagreed with her. I'm generally sympathetic to her view of wine, but I'm nowhere near as dogmatic. I even like a Parkerized fruit bomb now and again.

As to the biodynamic agriculture -- yeah, that stuff sounds wacky and I don't believe burying a cow horn is really helping the wine. But at the same time, I think the best sangiovese I ever tasted came from one of those growers. I'm happy to shrug my shoulders and take another sip when the topic comes up.

Thanks, crowquill, for chiming in!

akueck
09-27-2012, 07:33 PM
I must agree, I'm actually aligned pretty well with a lot of her views. It's that "dogmatic" part you mention that gets me. She's really against Parker deciding what is "good" and what is "bad" in the wine world, but at the same time she is basically saying that it should be her who is the arbiter. To me, this is either hypocritical or due to a touch of mania. Perhaps you need to be manic to travel around Europe drinking tons of wine.

Also, why no mention of wine regions outside France, Spain, and Italy (except with derision)? If she's really trying to be worldly, there is a lot of world out there beside southwestern Europe. Heck, she lives in NYC but doesn't even give a nod to the local wines on Long Island. Admittedly, I've only had a few from there I like, but I'm not going to write off the whole region for not being French enough.

chiguire
09-27-2012, 08:01 PM
I must agree, I'm actually aligned pretty well with a lot of her views. It's that "dogmatic" part you mention that gets me. She's really against Parker deciding what is "good" and what is "bad" in the wine world, but at the same time she is basically saying that it should be her who is the arbiter. To me, this is either hypocritical or due to a touch of mania. Perhaps you need to be manic to travel around Europe drinking tons of wine.


I totally agree with what you said, Aaron. To her credit (depending on your view), she avoids the 100 point scale. But you are right, she screams hypocrisy when she turns around and tells people what is good and bad.

In regards to the 100 point scale - I also, think it is bad for the wine market. I feel like if something gets VERY low (like less that 70), it can indicate something, but I feel like the difference between 85-95 points is often about personal preference; however, that may be on account of my lack of years-and-years-and-years of wine experience...

I feel like it introduces odd behavior in wine making, buying and pricing.

For example - I drank about 3 "90 point" wines in the last couple of weeks. All were pleasurable, to me. But there was one that clearly exited me more than all of the others (a Loire Valley red - 100% Cab Franc). So what does that 90 point value really mean...?

akueck
09-28-2012, 09:00 AM
I think wine is too broad for the 100-point scale. You can judge beers on a scale, but that is highly standardized and you are comparing your beer-being-judged to a standard exemplar. (As in, there is actually a "calibration beer" you try beforehand so you know what you're looking for in the judging.) What is the standard for wine?

Growing conditions (weather, location, rainfall, etc) play such a huge role in wine, and then you layer in the effects of yeast (whether pitched or whatever is on the grape), fermentation methodology, use of oak, aging, blending, etc. I feel like a numerical scale is meaningless unless you know what the endpoints are. "Here is a wine that scores 0. Here is a wine that scores 100." But you never see a wine advertised as scoring less than 80-something (for obvious reasons), and I doubt many score less than 70. So what does a 70-to-100 scale mean? Kudos to Parker for distilling it all down to a number, I guess, but can even he tell us what those numbers are for? Is a 90 point wine 10% better than an 80 point one? Or is it twice as good?

ken_schramm
09-30-2012, 11:19 PM
I think if you look at Parker's 100 point scale, he gives the first 50 points for showing up in a water-tight package with a closure. The next 50 points represent quality, and that would mean that a 90 point wine would be 20% better than an 80 point wine.

You don't see reviews (or shelf talkers) for wines that Parker or others rate below 85 points or so, because the WA/Spectator/W&S view a published score on a wine as a recommendation to buy. There are too many wines with scores of 86 or higher out there to waste time and ink on 78 point spitters.

Something I have always found perplexing is the question of whether a wine can be rated X number of points (95? 100?) based on an anticipated maturity that is 10, 15 or 20 years hence. There are so many variables that go into a wine's aging - reduction, cork quality, head space and oxygen levels, brett and other microbiota - that it seems an imperfect science at best. Are they 100's now? And if you are rating young wines that have enough unresolved tannin to rival rhubarb as 95 or 100 points, where do they go once they are properly aged?