This tasting report is first being published on the website of World Of Fine Wines.
They’re running it in three parts, concluding Thursday the 24th June. You can read them as they arrive, or wait and read the entire spew on Thursday.
Here are a few musings on the theme of objectivity….
I sent the estate my first draft, so they could comment. This isn’t the same as “copy-approval,” because if we have a normal divergence of opinion, I’ll stand by my judgments. But I felt it important, absent the zoom meetings I’ve had with many of the other growers, to engage in the dialogue we would have had if we’d tasted together.
Of course there are limits to the collegial exchanges two people might have, if one of them needs to sell the thing that’s being discussed. Hence the proverb “Every grower will tell you the truth about his wines, a year later.” But even allowing for that, I like to subject my assumptions to a second intellect, to see if they hold up, or even if they only clarify. Consider a wine – a hypothetical wine but one with many real-world cognates – that has something about it that I don’t like. If I raise the subject with the producer, and if she says This actually was my intent for that wine, and I felt like I succeeded in what I was aiming for, then I learn something valuable. She wanted the wine to be just as it was, and it happens not to please me.
I won’t pull the punch; I’ll tell you why I didn’t like it, and you can assess the degree to which I’ve persuaded you.
I remember a wine I felt was top-heavy, and asked whether its picking had been delayed for some reason, as it was atypical for that grower’s style. “Yes, actually, it got away from us,” I was told, “Because we had a lot of rot during the harvest and we were hurrying to gather all the clean fruit we could find, and we felt we could afford to wait for this Riesling because the microclimate of that vineyard usually inhibits rots forming.” The producer agreed the wine was clumsy by his usual standards, and I had some questions for my conscience.
This was in my merchant days, and so it was a simple matter of not selecting that particular wine. Now, as a writer, I could simply opt to ignore it, but if it was shown to me I trust I have a right to comment. Yet I am also aware that I pay much less for that “right” than the grower paid for the risks he had to take. In a sense, my opinion is relatively facile unless I have some sense of the context surrounding that wine, and the only way to know that is to talk about it as colleagues and equals.
In short, if I had to choose between being humane and being objective, I’d rather be humane. But it’s possible to be both. Or so I insist!