A New Wine Sheriff
There’s a new wine sheriff in town and his name is Blair Campbell.
Blair is the newish wine writer for the East Bay Express. I’m not sure how I missed what can only be labeled a most audacious rant in which he takes to task those phonies who read the Wine Spectator or make any time for wines that cost more than $10. It’s pretty impressive.
To be fair, this original article of Campbell’s, "Ashamed of That Cheap Wine You’re Buying?
Maybe that’s ’cause wine writers don’t take either of you remotely seriously", is really an introduction to his column which will focus on wines under $10 that are only available in the East Bay Area. Fair enough. One needs to establish their shtick before they get to the business of shticking.
You’re going to like Campbell’s style of writing no matter if you like or don’t like his style of thought. It’s pithy prose that gets to the point with a slightly light hearted demeanor.
That said, there is a dismissive element in his writing. Dismissive of those who might be willing to pay $15, $20, $30 or $50 for a bottle of wine. For example, in considering the character of those who he affectionately calls a "wineaux", Campbell writes:
"Just who is this new consumer whom retailers and restaurants are so
eager to please? Maybe it’s you. You’re an antisnob with a lust for
life and a desire to save both time and money when you shop…Whatever your tastes are, I’ll call you and your kind Wineaux. It seems an apt moniker, capturing both your sophisticated palate and your lack of pretension."
Here’s my point: There’s nothing pretentious or snobbish about 1) spending $50 on a bottle of wine or 2) recognizing that the vast majority of sub $10 wines are generally quite inferior to that $50 bottle of wine. Recognizing this is called discernment and it’s what enthusiasts engage in. Let’s face it, you don’t need a BMW to get you from home to the store, but the ride sure is more comfortable than making the trip in a Yugo. Nor do you need a $25/lb, small production, Italian blue cheese to offer a cheese course with dinner. But it sure will satisfy more than that waxy orange stuff wrapped in thick plastic you find next to the bacon at the local Piggly Wiggly.
For as long as I’ve been involved in the wine business there has been a contingent of folks out there that dismiss the sort of, oh, let’s call it "hyper-appreciation of wine" as nothing more than snob appeal. While there are those people who use their knowledge of wine as a club, there are also those out there who use their dismissal of wine enthusiasts for the same purpose.
I’m not sure Blair Campbell is the latter…yet.