by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)
Tom Wark’s post, “Winemakers Turned Wine Reviewers” caught my attention. Apparently, there’s a new website where winemakers review the wines of other winemakers. You can check it out at https://winemakersrecommend.com.
Not being sure how I felt about this concept, I went on to the winemakersrecommend.com website to check it out. It takes a few minutes to sign in, and I think they could do without that. I know almost every time I go to a website where I need to establish an account, I usually just make it go away. But I was interested enough here to sign up so I did.
There’s only a few winemakers on the site (though I assume this will expand with time), and the first lesson is that it’s not the site, but the individual winemakers, that matter. I’ll start with Chris Carpenter, who has only one video, but it was my favorite. And when I say favorite, it’s because it has what some of the others lack.
First, I think some of the other winemakers kind of dumbed down their presentations to the lowest common denominator of consumer knowledge. Chris actually talked about winemaking technique. I’m sure that most consumers don’t want to get overwhelmed with this sort of thing, but a little bit really makes the difference between what a winemaker can bring to the table and the drivel you’ll find in the Spectator.
Second, there’s a level of enthusiasm in Chris’s presentation lacking in most of the others. Not being the most emotive speaker myself, I sympathize with the difficulty of speaking with emotion. But it does make a difference.
I would pretty much say all of the winemakers do a much better job that the usual wine review, which is pretty much worthless. So, in that sense, I heartily endorse this site.
But it’s important to keep in mind the limitations of any wine assessing (if that’s a word). If you get a bunch of winemakers together and they taste a wine, you run into the same problems as you do with any other group of wine tasters. If it’s blind, no one correctly identifies the wine. And by identify, I’m not talking about “Chateau Margaux 1997”. I’m talking about things like getting the continent right. Or the grape.
The assessments of the wine will also be all over the place, both in terms of overall quality and description.
So while I would much rather go to winemakersrecommend.com than a mainstream wine review, it’s certainly no guarantee that some other winemaker (or, more importantly, me or you) will agree with the assessment.
That said, it is refreshing to have winemakers opine on wines, since they actually have something intelligent to say on the subject. If I had any advice to give, it would be to emphasize the unique perspective a winemaker has (namely, he knows how to make the stuff), and not try to emulate the normal dumbed down wine review.