Monday, November 12, 2012

100-point scale and natural wine at the European Wine Bloggers' Conference

Forgive the brevity, I'm typing this from a hotel lobby in Elazig, Turkey, which has shaky wifi but hopefully another great Turkish breakfast: several kinds of olives and cheese, fresh salad, many kinds of bread, fresh and dried fruit including sour cherries and mulberries, and super-strong Turkish tea. I want to run a photo post of my breakfast, but that's like being a parody of a blogger, although I did meet a guy last week who set up a website that follows the everyday adventures of one pair of his jeans.

I had the great fortune to attend the European Wine Bloggers' Conference last weekend in Izmir, Turkey. I covered for Wine Searcher two seminars of continuing interest to wine freaks 'n geeks. Those stories are already posted; Wine Searcher is trying to become a fast-publishing daily wine news site. And they pay money, which is why my stories are there. Hopefully they get what they pay for.

The debate on blind tasting and the 100-point scale was lively as always; the story is here. The highlight: a new system for rating your friends.

The panel on natural wine was so one-sided that people who aren't really known as proponents of the ideology, including Vinography's Alder Yarrow and myself, stood up to try to present what a natural wine advocate might have said, had she been there. To find out what Alice Feiring would actually have said, I emailed her and put her response in the story.

I need a little more sleep and a few more glasses of Turkish wine to put my thoughts in perspective on the EWBC overall, but I will say this: it's a fun conference attended by serious people. Rémy Charest tweeted that from the EWBC, people tweet, "I disagree with your view on malolactic fermentation." From the American WBC people tweet, "Party in room 137. Woot!" Seated among three authors of recent scholarly books on wine at the grand banquet, I have to agree -- even though I wooted more than my share of Öküzgözü.

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18 comments:

Tom said...

Wow...what a shame there was not a strong proponent of the Natural Wine phenomenon or of the term "Natural Wine." I'm a critic of the term for sure. But I understand the benefit of having a foil in the room.

Shame.

Tom said...

Wow...what a shame there was not a strong proponent of the Natural Wine phenomenon or of the term "Natural Wine." I'm a critic of the term for sure. But I understand the benefit of having a foil in the room.

Shame.

Fabio said...

Blake, Are you saying that it was a wasted opportunity to have good debate on natural wines?

W. Blake Gray said...

Fabio: Yes. And in fact it may have backfired, because the audience felt the need to fill in some of the missing pro-natural wine points.

Tom: Though it's hard to imagine a natural wine discussion so negative on the field that even you would be disappointed, I think this may have been it.

Robert Cartwright said...

A blog about a pair of pants? Really?

Bill Geofferys said...

Nice little jab at science by the confused and deluded Ms Feiring. She has more in common with the likes of Todd Akin than she realizes

Bill Geofferys said...

Mr Delong is just wrong. Like the 100 point scale or not, there is nothing about it that requires blind tasting. The two practices are worth debating, however I see no reason to link them in a debate

W. Blake Gray said...

Robert: Yup. So don't go calling this blog insignificant. At least it's not my pants' blog.

suamw said...

If it’s legitimately natural, the wine has ways to try to shut that whole spoilage and oxidation thing down.

Bill Geofferys said...

Suamw: brilliant!

Tom said...

The "Natural Wine" debate is fascinating. But what I hate seeing is the debate turn on the wines themselves. The wines that fall under this banner are just fine. Wonderful at times. Average at times. Not so good at times. Like all wines.

The real issues with natural wine are:

1. Do wines being called "natural" really express a terroir fundamentally better than wines that are not termed "natural"

2. Is the term "Natural wine" inherently fraudulent and nothing more than a marketing ploy or is it a legitimate category of wine?

What a shame these issues could not have been vigorously debated by articulate partisans.

Damn!!

Robert Cartwright said...

Tom: question#2 YES! marketing ploy. I think we are splitting hairs here ladies and gentlemen.

rapopoda said...

I don't know that it's a marketing ploy. From what I can see, it is more about ideology. The problem that I have, is often that ideology has minimal basis in fact. We get impassioned declarations of what must be to produce wines that reflect terroir (a poorly defined term itself), with no good evidence to back it up.
I *think* I'm in agreement with Bill G when he talks with respect to Alice F: if there is a movement worthy of defense, she is a poor choice for its defender.
Sadly, while the advocates of this movement probably have some very worthwhile points to make, it's become yet another artificial dialectic.

Unknown said...

Okay, this was the funniest, more brilliant comment I've read on a board like this in quite a while:

suamw said...
If it’s legitimately natural, the wine has ways to try to shut that whole spoilage and oxidation thing down.

W. Blake Gray said...

Or is oxidation God's will?

chilecopadevino.com said...


So “Natural Wine” doesn’t need to follow the laws of physics either... hmmmm......it has its own path ;)


suamw said...
If it’s legitimately natural, the wine has ways to try to shut that whole spoilage and oxidation thing down.

Caroline said...

W.Blake Gray - I really enjoyed reading your post(s) because you confirmed how I felt this debate would turn out. I had been following the many comments and posts on FB by Robert Joseph on the topic, saw Jamie Goode take a few punches and saw very few if any responses in favour of natural wines. After the UK hosted TWO highly successful natural wine fairs this year I feel a great opportunity was missed, as there are qualified people - such as Isabelle Legeron MW - who could have brought a little balance to the panel and added value to the discussion...

W. Blake Gray said...

Caroline: Yes, Jamie is something of a fan of natural wine, at least some of them, but he just stayed out of the fray because, he said on Twitter, he wanted to stay balanced. I'd say he WAS balanced, but that meant the panel was not.