Suffering from the torment of Obsessive Galloni Disease? Take this!
It’s not that I’m uninterested in the replacement of Robert Parker by his protege, Anotonio Galloni, in reviewing California wines. I am interested. If Jim Laube gave up California, I’d be interested in that, too. If I gave up California, or rather my coastal part of it (I happily share the rest of the state with Virginie Boone), I assume that would be a fairly significant story for the wine press to cover. However, what I have no interest in is what some of my fellow wine bloggers are doing: treating this Galloni thing as some sort of epochal shift that’s making History, like a Presidential election. They’re interpreting every move Galloni makes, every word he writes, with the mesmerized fascination of a Kremlinologist, or a Vatican watcher trying to make sense of some newly elected Pope, or the scrutiny of a Supreme Court reporter discerning which way a new appointee leans.
People, get a grip! Galloni is not the new Pope! He’s a nice-looking dude covering California wine, the new kid in town. We should look forward to welcoming him to the Golden State, if we get the opportunity to meet him, as we never did with Parker, who traveled here as though he were Mick Jagger. But he’s just another one of us, no more or less important than anyone else.
Yet I have read, with astonishment and bemusement, the fevered speculations of certain wine bloggers in covering Antonio’s first Cali reviews. Here’s Terroirist, deconstructing them as if they contained clues to the existence of life on Mars. Here’s Blake Gray, breathlessly combing through the scores, like a mathematician in search of the solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem. Here’s Alder Yarrow, admittedly a little less discombobulated, but still trying to have it both ways by arguing that–while Galloni’s coming means “nothing”–he’s going to headline it anyway.
As Macbeth might have said of all this hyperventilated reportage, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Not that I am calling the three aforementioned fine bloggers idiots! Highest respects! Blog on, brothers! But we bloggers collectively have got to get past the pall that Parker/Wine Advocate threw on the California wine scene for too long–one that the industry accepted too blithely. It was unhealthy, a dark, smothering cloud of choking soot that kept California wine from evolving normally. What we need in California, as the state and the country emerge from the Recession, is a free, fair, open conversation about California wine: what it is, what it isn’t, what it should be, what it could be, if only it were allowed to develop unimpaired, in a free market. Unimpaired is exactly what it wasn’t during the Parker era. One voice, for the most part, defined reality, thus paralyzing the free market into a talibaneque stylistic monopoly.
I was hopeful, when I heard of Parker’s impending retirement from my state, that multiple voices could be heard. But what happens when multiple voices now conspire to all talk about the same thing? Same old same old: The Wine Advocate, written by whomever, continues to dominate the chitchat.
You won’t find me deciphering Galloni. I don’t care what he says. I didn’t read Parker and I won’t read A.G. It’s not that I’m ruling out any mention of Galloni forever. I’ll write about him on an as-needed basis, the same way I’ll write about Jon Bonné or Jordan Mackay or Charlie Olken or Laube or Joe Blow, if I feel like it. But I’m not going to obsess on Galloni any more than I will on 1WineDude. (Happy new year, Joe!)
Make no mistake, the old order in California is as dead as 2011. If it was bizarre for bloggers to suffer from Parker Obsessive Disease, it’s even weirder for them to come down with a self-inflicted case of Galloni Obsessive Disease. So bloggers, if you want to take the cure, just let Dr. Steve know. He’s here to help you.