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Paul Gregutt, The Passive Aggressive Nature of the Egotistical Wine Critic.

2013 April 25

When I read Paul Gregutt’s wine blog piece   to read it click here entitled,“why making wine is making me a better critic” my interest was piqued. Could it be? Can one of those typically pompous wine critics who proclaim to know more than anyone else who happens to drink wine actually have an epiphany?

Don’t hold your breath. The title is only one of those 6 O’Clock News teasers to get you to watch when after waiting until the end of the program you find out there wasn’t a story there in the first place. Mr. Gregutt’s idea of making wine is going to a commercial winery and performing blending trials. This seems to be his new found deep understanding of making wine. If he wasn’t so serious about it, the entire affair could be a satirical Saturday Night Live routine. He waxes on about his blends and actually considers making a real acid adjustment. Let the Heavens Open! The Critic performing a titration or would the lab hand the new winemaker the results? We are all mesmerized , Not, when reading about his challenge of having 14 barrels of finished wine presented to him to come to a decision about his wine. We are impressed at the profundity of his blending awareness skills when he proclaims, You just dive in at that point, and make a blend. And another and another and another. Happily, a wine started to take shape. The blending became more subtle. Add a couple more percentages of this, take away a couple of that. Try and try and try.” This is hysterical, this is how you make wine blends with 14 barrels.

But with all this blending and toiling over subtle changes to the blends only a Wine Critic could discern, the following words of wisdom we can all carry with us from now on due to Gregutt’s discovery is… Another lesson – wine making is a bit like movie making. There is a whole lot of hurry up and wait.” A lesson? From a guy who on a regular basis tells others a wine needs to lay down for another few years?

But then the Critic throws winemakers a bone and says , “But I promise you, I am approaching them with more appreciation, heightened sensitivity, and a much broader understanding of all that goes into making any wine before it is released. I have always been respectful of the talent required to make good wine. Now more than ever.” Wow you might get duped into thinking there could be some hope for this guy. Don’t.

I will admit even I think this guy may be mis-guided in his winemaking thinking but maybe he has redeemed himself. Not so fast Fellows here is how he ends the piece, “Could I have learned as much as an amateur winemaker? I don’t think so. The commercial wine business is the big leagues. As the Mariners are finding out, it’s a lot different from spring training.”

So there you have it. The Pompous Snobby Wine Critic exposes himself completely. Even though he states he no use for Amateur Winemaking, he must have no idea of artisanal made wines either. If he did he would understand that Serious Amateur Winemakers employ the most artistic methods in their winemaking. He also would understand the hand crafting and small volume methods which in many cases produces a better wine from the same grapes as the Big Commercial Winery can produce. We can prove that over and over again. He also needs to talk to his big league friends about all the compromises they have to take when making wine the small lot winemaker never has to take.

Yes Mr. Gregutt learning how making wine could make you a better critic but you need to go to the minors before you write an article like this. You also might want to do a little fining and filtering before you talk about Amateur Winemakers too. Besides being a better critic it could make you a better person.

17 Responses leave one →
  1. MartyYule permalink*
    April 25, 2013

    The old man is on fire today! Woo Hoo! Wow you must be mellowing, you actually got through that post without calling the guy an asshole. Here I will do it for you.

  2. D&S permalink
    April 26, 2013

    If its any consolation, the Big Leaguers also know some of these critics are ass wipes, but they must live with them. They way we have to live with politicians, I suppose.

    Years ago I took some wine courses at UC Davis. In one course, there was a guest lecturer from the industry, someone well-known. I remember this person referring to Harvey Steinman (‘esteemed’ blowhard from Wine Spectator) as a ‘bona fide dolt’. That’s a quote.

  3. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    April 26, 2013

    Well I posted on his blog but he doesn’t have the balls to approve my post. As he calls his blog, Unfined, he is right about that, Unfiltered my ass.

  4. April 26, 2013

    Yes, Paul is my colleague, but that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing to ask why you have to be so nasty about everything. Your post reeks with anger and quite frankly it made me sick.

  5. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    April 27, 2013

    I call it like I see it Pal. But I suppose you all have to stick together. I see it the same way with Amateur Winemakers. What made me sick is your friend had to knock Amateur Winemakers just to elevate himself. Angry about that? You could say that, especially when it comes from a person that should have an appreciation for all things Wine. Thanks for responding.

  6. April 28, 2013

    To Steve, I’m sorry but coming from a third party completely unbiased person who nothing about wine besides drinking gene wasn’t bitter at all he was just simply giving his opinion on the matter of Paul’s post. If any one here is bitter and biased its you seeing as Paul is a friend and collegue…if you took your nose out of the air and read gene’s post with a clear mind you would see that his points are clear and opinionated

  7. Proud Puppy permalink
    April 28, 2013

    ???WTF? What just happened? I think you may have been called a Wank.. or is that a Wonk?
    Well, it only says one important fact: THEY’RE READING!!

  8. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    April 28, 2013

    Maybe the PC Wine Critic Crowd will label me the Perez Hilton of Amateur Winemaking LOL! Oh My and yes they are reading Google Analytics proves that.

  9. MikeyCrews permalink
    May 4, 2013

    In the past I haven’t commented or gotten involved here because I’m running a grape selling business and in general you guys seem to slam on everyone who isn’t M and M, but I’ll make an exception this time and say that I really appreciate you bringing this to my, the general public’s, and google analytics attention. That article in its current form is a fucking travesty and I really hope he takes it down or makes some serious changes.

    I added this comment and we’ll see if it makes the cut:

    “The title of your article is misleading as you didn’t make any wine, you blended already made wine. It raises immediate questions about your knowledge of winemaking or your choice of words as a writer. If you’re seriously interested in making wine you should contact Peter Brehm, one of the good people at M and M Wine Grape Supply, or myself @ WineGrapesDirect. Between those parties you’ll have better access to wine grapes across all west coast appellations and some out of country appellations than most commercial domestic winemakers have.”

  10. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    May 4, 2013

    Welcome to the Forum MikeyCrews. I am glad you have been reading our Blog and happier that you have commented. As far as slamming Grape suppliers in our geographical location we have only 3. Others that may sell grapes get their grapes from the 3 I mentioned. The two out of three don’t have an interest in promoting Amateur Winemaking. There interest lies only in selling to the ‘Old World” guys where they can sell inferior fruit and get away with it as they have for years. It is that simple. M&M Grape as has been said here many times has raised our wine making experience to levels we in the past could only dream of attaining.

    We welcome you and any other Commercial Operation who’s interest is in promoting and raising the level of the Amateur Wine Making Experience. I hope in the future you will add your expertise and information for all of us here on the blog. Even though we are located in Westchester County New York, if your information serves another geographical area it is still welcomed here. Our readership traverses the USA and 10 -15 countries on any given day. Thanks again and Welcome.

  11. MikeyCrews permalink
    May 5, 2013

    Thanks for the welcome and I’ll try to chime in the future if I have any useful info to add. I don’t know much about the grape sourcing scene in your area, but I am familiar with some of the local vineyards M and M sources from and understand why they’re held in such high regard.

    Also, my comment didn’t make it to Paul’s blog even though I don’t think it was particularly offensive… apparently if you don’t give him a hand-jibber you don’t get posted. That’s alright, Wine Enthusiast is pretty widely regarded as a 2nd tier, pay to play periodical anyways.

  12. DaveD permalink
    May 5, 2013

    This article reminds me of a quote I heard when I first got into winemaking:

    “Winemaking is 90% janitorial”

    The critics see no reason to get into the nitty gritty of making wine, they would prefer to have the romanticized view where there is the dinner party in the beautiful vineyard. Forget about the guy (or girl) scrubbing that last bit of gunk out of the destemmer, or racking the wine/cleaning the carboys one more time. Why would they want to get involved in that? I would much rather prefer to taste some wine, tell someone else to add more of this or that, approve, and walk out the door.

  13. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    May 5, 2013

    Yep and then they get real defensive like Heimoff. LOL It made him sick… Talk about living a sheltered life.

    Ya know being an Amateur is so much fun. You can tell off a leading wine critic and tell another one to deal with it. Those poor commercial fellows with the brown noses, I feel bad for them.

  14. proud puppy permalink
    May 5, 2013

    Like they said, 90% janitorial… I guess cleaning the brown off the noses is included in that figure…..

  15. RSG permalink
    May 16, 2013

    LOL Gene, you have a way of ruffling feathers but in this case it’s on-point, Lots of people think it but you have the balls to say it…amateur wine makers get no respect from the likes of guys like this and as you mention in your article some are capable of producing better results than the pros on the same playing field with expectation to perhaps volume only.


  16. Gene Fiorot permalink*
    May 16, 2013

    Hey RG Welcome to the blog. As a long time respected poster, Welcome to the Blog. Please continue to comment and if you wish post a blog piece yourself. Just let me know.
    You will not need moderation now after your first comment. Just sign in the same way everytime.

    BTW Everytime I ruffle feathers the readership doubles for the following days. Gives me impetus to continue. LOL Besides being the antithesis of a Moderator it makes me feel real good. Forget about most of those moderators are morons. And guess what RG? They read the this blog everyday. LOL !!!

  17. rsg permalink
    May 17, 2013

    Right on Gene,

    LOL I’d say you are gaining momentum judging by some of the names I see here in this thread alone….some serious hitters in the wine-making know and I’m not just blowing smoke up their you-know-what….. 😉

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