Monday, July 19, 2010

A Dear Pinot Noir letter

Dear Pinot Noir:

I'm writing to tell you that I'm breaking up with you.

I still love you, and I'll probably always love you. But you've changed since we met, and I can't ignore it anymore.

It's not only because you've gained weight, although I won't deny that's a big factor. It's not just you who you hurt by hanging out in the vineyard way longer than you should, getting bloated with sugar and alcohol. You're also hurting me. If you respected me, you would work harder to keep your lean, sexy shape. But you don't respect me. You think I'll be there for you no matter how ripe you get. Well, I won't.

But that's not the only reason.

You're sleeping with Syrah. Don't try to deny it. I smell it on your breath and taste it in your kiss. You're lying down with Syrah, sharing your fluids, and then you come to my table and expect me to adore you anyway. Like I said, you don't respect me anymore.

Even if I could forgive you for sleeping around, you're not the same grape I fell in love with. I'll never forget the nights we shared, the laughter, the sensuous wet kisses. Sometimes you frustrated me with your mercurial nature, but I think that just made me love you more.

If I'm honest, I think travel ruined you. I know I'm a hypocrite because I love to travel and I was happy to have you with me. But I don't like what travel has done to you. I know it's selfish of me to expect you to always be the perky little grape with a French accent who loved food as much as I do. Oh, how I thrilled to discover how you brightened up with steak tartare, and the way you dug into lightly grilled salmon.

I admit I encouraged you to come to California and spend more time with me. And New Zealand. And Tasmania. And Hungary. And Italy.

Somewhere along the way, though, I think you lost touch with who you are. I think what went wrong is that you met Cabernet -- maybe in Yarra Valley, maybe in Carneros, and you wanted to be just like him. But that's not you, my dear. At least, it shouldn't be.

I'm not going to go all Mel Gibson here. As I said, I'll always love you. If you feel the same way, maybe we can work out a friends-with-benefits arrangement. But I'm afraid I have to ask you to move most of your things out of my cellar.

In case you're wondering, I'm not leaving you for somebody else. Sure, I'm seeing a lot of Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc these days. But it's not the kind of relationship you and I shared. It's summer, and we're in the same restaurants together. It's just a coincidence.

It's not about them; it's about you.

Take care of yourself. And please, try to get back into shape.

Sadly but with love always,
Blake

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great letter!

Anonymous said...

Ouch! Cruel to be kind

Alder Yarrow said...

Awesome. Nice piece.

Andy said...

Poetry!

Joshua Hall said...

Classic.

Must admit I had a threesome with two pinots and a burgundy over the weekend in a walk in cellar.

Walked outside into 32 degree heat and 70% humidity and was in love with Riesling again.

Pinot Nyrah said...

Dear Blake

You should just smile and drink me.

Pinot Nyrah

Arthur said...

And they say you can't sell Syrah anymore. Sure you can. Just top off your Pinot Noir with it.
It'll sell like hotcakes and at four times the price....

Palate Press said...

Brilliant. Just brilliant. Thank you.

Sasha said...

Totally brilliant! Thanks for this.

Pete said...

Well done, sir.

Anonymous said...

My first ever read of your blog and all I can write is "wow"! This is a great piece with terrific relevance. A comedic beat every wine lover should dance to. Well played.

Martin Cody
Cellar Angels

Lindsay Ronga said...

blake, you have a knack for writing. that was one hell of a piece.

Barbara said...

Wonderful!

Nancy Yos said...

Cool, but doesn't it all just mean there's more of her to love? I'll take her since you don't want her.

Dave Butner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, when you're talking about adding Syrah to Pinot you're talking about examples like the French b'tards duping Gallo by substituting Syrah for Pinot right? But that surely is a French trick right? Adding some grapes with some weight and body to give some structure to that thin, watery tasteless crap they call 'Burgundy'

Anonymous said...

One less Pinotphile, more Pinot for the rest of us!

Bill Ward said...

I spent a fun afternoon with Duxoup winemaker Andy Cutter recently, and among his many bon mots that day:
*I tasted some pinot noir last night, and some petite sirah would run away with shame."

Anonymous said...

The last deent California Pinot Noir I tasted was the 1983 Mondavi Reserve. RIP/

Anonymous said...

Have we forgotten the need to search for wines of terrior and subltey... Letting the natural beauty of a wine show through... Don't let Pinot Noir become the new cabernet and please avoid unessesary "winemaking" at all cost!!!
Michael Kasuari Wines

Dude said...

Love it.
Great letter.

Dude said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ernie Pink said...

Spot on!

I was very surprised the first time someone commented that they did not taste any blueberry in our Pinot's. "Why would you?" I asked.

For the record, I also grow Syrah here in Oregon. I just bottle it seperately.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, wineries have to sell through inventory to make money. Plump over-ripe, over extracted wines that are one-note flavors, oaky and high alcohol are what wine "critics" give high scores to and, in turn, what most people end up buying.

bd said...

If plump, over-ripe wines are what you must sell, why not call it a blend, and leave pinot to its true profile. "If one is going to say, we have to charge a higher price to pay for the fruit, thus we must call it Pinot," then that fruit is not necessary when syrah is so much cheaper these days. Those calling themselves Pinot drinkers or Pinotphiles that are in love with today's "plum" wine on the Central Coast and elsewhere, are not actually in love with the pinot grape.

Leo said...

Blake, The real wine news is what's hidden, .... it's an anathema to wine marketing, .... Wine writers are not generally exposing changes in wine country. So I want to confirm your senses. Since circa 2004 there has been a great equalization of red wines. What is disturbing is that winemakers are evolving with the market economy that prefers bigger Pinot Noir and Zinfandel wines, largely to compete with the Cabernet Sauvignon benchmarks. As far as I can tell this is largely because California winemakers resist regulations and oversight.

Arthur said...

"...California winemakers resist regulations and oversight."


hmmmmm........

In what other industries have we seen that kind of resistance in the last 10 years?.... How did that work out?

Chuck Hayward said...

So there you have it. Only satisfied by one type of womanwine. There is only the one that completes you and so now you are doomed to loneliness and the neverending thirst that will come from rejecting all that do not meet your exacting standards. Yes, you can hold them to a standard but what does it get you?

Or you could...

Embrace the diversity that exists in this noble womanwine. Revel in the fleshiness one day, the sultry earth the next. Immerse yourself in lusty wood notes during the week, wallow in soft squishy fruits the next. Enjoy each womanwine for what they are, not for what they are supposed to be. Do this and your thirst will be gone, you can lie with many womanwines and expose yourself to the unique qualities that each one possesses. Enjoy an orgy of womenwines as you revel in their differences.

By experiencing well-travelled womenwines, you will see the world through their unique experiences and thus become a more interesting person. Your chances for happiness will multiply! You will avoid the boredom that comes as you stay with that one womanwine again and again and again. Your senses will be on heightened alert status as each new womanwine unfurls their unique nuance and character. Most importantly, you will allow each womanwine to be what they are and appreciate them for what they are. Some may be suitable for a long-term relationship, other for a one night stand but at least you will give each their due. I bet you there is even someone out there who even loves those "tranny" womanwines, the "pinot-syrahs" from France that are so villified. It's not for me but who am I to judge.

I think there is a womanwine for each person who has their own taste or preference and it's about us being a matchmaker. After all, each womanwine wants to be appreciated and shouldn't we try to get to know them rather than shoo them away simply because they don't meet our exacting standards?

PS--Great essay.

Ed Thralls said...

So sorry to see this relationship end. Maybe you just haven't met the right "one" ; )

I can completely understand all of your reasons and you have a right to be picky. I hope it works out in the end.

I am sorry for your loss and please let me know if you need anything.

Ed

Anonymous said...

Very good tounge in cheek.

Anonymous said...

Pinot Noir responds:

http://capinotnoir.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/dear-blake/

Nova C. said...

So True!!!

Awesome post.

Arthur said...

Chuck

It is not true diversity of Pinot Noir when the wine is Hermitaged. A little dab o' Syrah will dominate a wine. When you have all these pinots with Syrah in them, where is the diversity?

That aside, I think that Blake is coming from the point of reference that if it says "Pinot Noir" on the label it should taste like a Pinot Noir and not something else

Anonymous said...

Dear Myopic Wine Drinker,

Who are you to tell me what to do with my life? I left your sorry ass because you are BORING, LIMP and a FOLLOWER. Why didn't you tell me we had problems years ago? Why now? when everyone else is writing nasty things about me on the wine shop bathroom walls.

Enjoying banging Gamay!

Yours,

Pinot Noir.

Randy said...

What's the point of breaking up with Pinot Noir when most folks in Cali are making something resembling syrah. Pinot nowadays seems to meet at the crossroads of flat cherry soda and liquid brown sugar.
Friends don't let friends drink '14.1% (and higher) Pinot Noir"

Anonymous said...

Dump her for Burgundy, Blake!

Bob Dickinson said...

A wonderful "outing" of too much of today's pinot noir. I wonder if the "legitimate" wine press will ever acknowledge syrah's participation in New World pinot noir these days....

Anonymous said...

You are one funny guy, hopefully she sees the error of her ways...

Anonymous said...

Blake,

I read Pinots reply at http://capinotnoir.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/dear-blake/ and think you totally did the right thing. That is one mean bitch. I hope she doesn't come over and trash your place. Good Luck!

A concerned friend

useful articles said...

Great...
Now I know why so many people love this site!

Tyler said...

Blake -

Did Pinot give you back your stuff from his/her apartment?

W. Blake Gray said...

Actually, I believe Pinot answers to Adam now; it's part of her macho thing. She's seeing other people -- LOTS of other people -- and I'm just drinking casually here and there.

One day when she stars in a Hollywood movie I can say I knew here when, but nobody will believe me ...

Rich said...

Finally, someone speaks the truth frankly but with lyrical prose. It's ok if people still like the wines. It' just the deception that is unforgivable. Well done!

Adam Lee/Siduri Wines said...

Oh Blake, Pinot Noir doesn't answer to me --- she's never answered to any man (or woman).

I do have a question, though. There was a piece written for the San Francisco Chronicle back on September 29, 2005 where the author writes:

"I can't say whether there's any Syrah in the Pinots I'm recommending. I'm sure the wineries would vehemently deny it. Anyway, I don't care."

The author was W. Blake Gray.

So what's different now that allows you to taste that Syrah has been added to Pinot Noir? And how have you changed that you now care?

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

W. Blake Gray said...

Hi Adam, I'm glad to have someone who remembers articles I wrote 5 years ago!

What's changed -- that was an article about wines with suggested retail prices of $10 and under.

At The Chronicle I had to write one of those Bargain Wines columns every other week, recommending 10 new wines each time, regardless of whether or not I had actually found 10 wines in that price range I liked. It took me a long time to get The Chronicle to stop doing that column every other week; in the interim that added up to 260 wines under $10 recommended each year, and I'm sorry to say they weren't all good.

You can react with horror if you like but a job is a job; that's the way media works.

I'll stand behind that column today, though, if not all of the recommendations, because you're quoting it out of context. It contains lines like this:

"I've never seen a Pinot Noir/Syrah combination listed on a front label, but I'm pretty sure I've tasted plenty of them, especially in the bargain price range."

and

"If you find a quaffable Pinot Noir for under $10, it's like winning a scratch-off lottery."

and

"Lately, some American Pinot Noirs are getting so powerful that they're in the same league as Syrahs."

Point is, if you buy a Pinot Noir for $9, you have no right to complain if you get 25% Syrah in it. If I buy a Pinot Noir for $25, it's a different story.

Adam Lee/Siduri Wines said...

Blake,

Great. That's all I was trying to establish right off.....its price point oriented. Below a certain price point its okay and above a certain price point it isn't.

So, now that you know that Pinot Noir is "sleeping with Syrah" because you can "smell it" and "taste it." Since it is an issue for you I would assume that means on wines in the $25 (or above) price category that you refer to it.

So, let's go for it. Which wines? Help the readers out with a list. I'd be fascinated to know which Pinots in that price area you've tasted that you know are blended with Syrah.

I'm also happy to have a list from your readers here who are willing to stand up and put their name behind it.

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

about new york said...

hmmm.. wonderful...
great post!

W. Blake Gray said...

Adam: We're meant to be having fun with this piece (sorry that you're not).

If I decide to write a serious investigative story of the Syrah-in-Pinot issue, I promise that I will contact you.

Adam Lee/Siduri Wines said...

Blake,

Sorry, can't really let you off the hook with the "fun piece" excuse - at least not on the Syrah being blended into Pinot Noir part.

You know, I get the humor in the entire post and thought it was funny -- but I also realize that satire has meaning behind it. It's a classic writing form. Ben Franklin (amongst many others) knew this and wrote some very funny, but very meaningful satirical works. You are following in that vein. And I think you know that you are.

Throwing out broad-based accusations, humorously (or not, in the 2005 piece) that can't be proven isn't fair nor is it necessarily accurate. And, unfortunately, people like Arthur who posted in this piece believe you.


Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

W. Blake Gray said...

Adam: Thank you for the praise; Ben Franklin could write.

You're absolutely right that there is true feeling behind this. I loved Pinot Noir. It was special to me. Now, not so much. I realized this one day when I was listening to a sommelier describe blockbuster Pinots and trying to sort through her enthusiasm for wines I knew I wouldn't like to get to one that I might.

Pinot Noir was my sweetheart; now it's just another wine I like, no more special to me than Verdejo or Riesling. The post is just a longer, hopefully funnier version of that.

Re the Syrah thing: notwithstanding what happened to Gallo, I have had multiple American winemakers admit to me, off the record, that they had put Syrah in their Pinot. I'm not going to burn them; off the record is off the record. But yes, it happens, and it happens in wines over $25.

Adam Lee/Siduri Wines said...

Blake,

I am not foolish enough to deny that some folks do add Syrah to their Pinot Noir. And I am not asking you to divulge what winemakers said to you off the record.

But the emphasis was that you can smell and taste the Syrah in Pinot Noir. I'd still like to know which Pinots those were. Surely, as a wine writer, you can do that. In fact, I'd say that's part of your job.


Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

W. Blake Gray said...

I could, if I chose. I choose not to. This piece is meant to be fun, not an expose (with an accent).

Anonymous said...

Dear Adam,

Come back home.

Now.

Leave those nice people alone.

-www.wineberserkers.com

Marc said...

There will always be Clos st Jacques. Its ok

Sonoma William - Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog said...

funny article. For all the grief that is given to CA for dark color, huge body, over extracted Pinot Noir; its everywhere. At a very recent tasting of 35 Pinots from 4 US AVA's, and France, Austria, Germany, Canada. same vintage, it was astonishing, and depressing, how similar they were. The best standout, agreed by several of us, and most true to Pinot was, Flowers, Sonoma Coast. Go figure.
Sadly, this is what sells.

Christine Collier said...

You should clarify, you are breaking up with California Pinot Noir, Oregon is still a healthy relationship!

Anonymous said...

Dear Siduri -

Maybe if you put the passion into your craft instead of a blogger's ‘tongue and cheek’ opinion people might ask you out again…

Your rebuttal’s concept is equally clever as Gray’s but your comments about “money” and “appearance” is simply mean spirited and not witty!

Todd Rief:)

gjdustin said...

OMG. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words! Right on and well said.