Wine writers seem to take particular pleasure in writing about other wine writers and today I’m going to be no different. In fact, I’m going to go one better and write about a wine writer who is writing about another wine writer in the context of the retirement of yet another wine writer. Pop will eat itself indeed.
San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonne is one of a tiny handful of very good, thoughtful, and self-reflective mainstream wine writers. Last week, he wrote an article about the retirement of hairstyle revolutionary and some time wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the subsequent sale of his 100 point rating-system pioneering publication The Wine Advocate to a group of Singapore-based investors. Because of this sale, Antonio Galloni, the critical heir-apparent at The Wine Advocate for California wines, jumped ship to launch his own online publication.
Now, the decision to start an online publication is, in and of itself, perhaps not the best idea, given the track record of previous luminaries leaving national publications to forge their own online cults of personality. But, unlike the esteemed Dr. S., Galloni seems better-attuned to the future of wine criticism, showing a willingness to eschew point scores and ratings in favor of telling the holistic story of a wine, something that, as evidence is showing, the current generation of young wine drinkers, sommeliers, and restaurateurs are more interested in than faux objective scores.
When I wrote my article about the irrelevance of the 100 point wine rating system and the damage that it causes to wine appreciation and criticism, I was attacked by some of its supporters for my lack of providing an alternative critical method. Except I did provide an alternative: the holistic evaluation of a wine, its story, and its character–the real reasons why we should care about this wine, not just a declaration from on high–which is the very form of wine criticism that, according to Bonne and Galloni, is becoming the establishment norm.