My reply to “The Manifesto”
Give credit to Facebook for today’s blog. I went to my status page and found a post from Darek Trowbridge. He wrote:
“I like this manifesto! Terroir and complexity are not part of the 100 point rating system so why continue with it? But the Score Revolution doesn’t address the next way of rating wines without it. I like the way Dan Berger does it with only printing wines that make two categories: Exceptional and Highly Recommended.”
And then he provided a link to the manifesto:
Now, Darek is the young owner/winemaker of Old World Winery, whom I recently met in the Russian River Valley, where he helped me with an upcoming Wine Enthusiast article. He calls his winery “Old World” because he’s pretty anti-interventionist and what you would call a terroir guy, which is, I guess, why he’s so high on the manifesto.
Before I deal with the manifesto, I want first to complain about anonymity in social media. I cannot find the creator’s name on the manifesto’s website. Maybe it’s there someplace, buried deep in the links, but I tried my best, and no luck. Nor can I find a creator’s name on the manifesto’s Facebook page, which is called ScoREVOLTution, with the emphasis on the word “revolt.” The company overview describes it as “A movement against quantifying the subjective experience of drinking wine” and the mission is “To bring down the 100 point system.” But, once again, there’s no way to identify who’s behind this thing. Hello, creator of ScoREVOLTution and The Manifesto, are you out there? Call me at 1-800-PERFECT100.
(Darek, are you the manifesto man? Because your signature is the first on it, like John Hancock’s on the Declaration of Independence.)
Okay, got that out of my system. Now it’s onto the manifesto itself. Read it; it’s not very long. It’s a plea for terroir and then an attack on the 100 point system, which the author calls “a clumsy and useless tool…a static symbol [and] completely ineffective when applied to a dynamic, evolving and multifaceted produce.”
Readers, if you’re expecting a steveheimoff.com jeremiad, complete with thundering insults and the hurling of lightning bolts from on high, you’ll be disappointed. I’ve always allowed for the fact that the 100 point system is not without faults. I blogged about this 1-1/2 years ago, here and here and numerous times since. Here’s the email I sent Darek in reply to his Facebook post:
Hey Darek my man,
If the 100 point system is such an abomination, then howcum you send me wine!!!???
I would just say that in our complicated world, there are many ways to write about wine. This is because the millions of people who read about wine prefer different approaches. Some of them like a very brief, capsule description, with a score or some other visual icon (puffs, stars, etc.) Some of them prefer a longer, more educated discourse. Some people actually write entire books on single wines. There’s no right or wrong, just individual approaches.
I don’t think any approach is evil or “useless.” Whenever we wine writers write about wine, in whatever fashion we do it, it increases people’s awareness of, and respect for, wine. And that’s the point, isn’t it?
I said that respectfully, because I like Darek a lot, and I “get” where the knockers of the 100 point system are coming from. In another incarnation, I might be one of them. (And by the way, I gave Darek’s wines pretty good scores!)
But I really believe what I told Darek: the millions of people who read about wine prefer different approaches. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that. It seems to me the same crowd that lambastes the 100 point system and praises terroir also hates wines from big wine companies like Gallo or Bronco. They’re entitled to drink or not drink whatever they want, but big wine companies introduce wine drinkers to affordable wines, they keep growers going through tough times, and they conduct or fund research that’s applicable even to high-end producers. So we should quit the class-based antagonism toward them.
I like the fact that the manifesto people, whoever they are, feel so passionate about the topic. It forces a good debate and makes those of us who support the 100 point system explain ourselves. As an old karate fighter, I have no problem defending myself, or to signing my name to what I write. I just wish the manifesto author would do the same.