The measure of a person’s commitment to an idea must surely be the length to which they are willing to go to make their point. When a person is willing to go the distance, and do so with the kind of delicious satire that Darryl Roberts of Wine X Magazine does, you really have to step back and marvel at the brilliance.
As we recently heard, Roberts shut down his subversive Wine X Magazine after years of publishing. In doing so he criticized, shall we say, in no uncertain terms, the lip service we in the wine industry give to younger drinkers that doesn’t come with a commitment to support efforts to reach out to these consumers. In other words, they applauded Robert’s Wine X Magazine but never supported it with advertising. Darryl hit his closing volley into the cheap seats way up top. He minced no words.
He’s been criticized for this by a number of folks who thought his outburst was tinged with bitterness. Some pointed comments were aimed his way in the same acerbic fashion that Darryl level is aim at the industry.
Maybe his comments were bitter. But the real parting shot that Roberts has left the Wine Industry with is not his words of criticism but one of the most brilliant acts of satire ever to hit the wine industry.
But first some background.
For years Darryl has been out to get the 100 point rating system for wine. He’s mounted argument after argument about the way he sees it subverting the appreciation of wine. He’s ridiculed those who use it to rate wines and dismissed those who use it slavishly to buy wines as "wannabees". Few people have been as opposed to the 100 point system as Darryl. In fact, much of the message of Wine X Magazine was you only need your own palate. His unique, pithy, pop-culture-referencing reviews made this same point.
Still, it seemed the wine industry didn’t want Darryl’s message. They never supported the magazine and his message of personal liberation from the scores and the wine industry’s message that wine makes you a better person seemed to fall on deaf ears.
In the end, Darryl decided to give them all what they wanted: Scores. And not just any scores…we’re
talking BIG TIME SCORES.
Out of the ashes of Wine X Magazine came JustWinePoints.com, the motto of which is "because nothing else matters." We are talking 99 point Sauvignon Blanc, 98 point Zin for $10, 96 point Grenache Rose. Why, it’s a virtual parade of 99 and 98 point wines coming out of JustWinePoints.com. It’s what everyone seemed to want. Well now they have it. A source for perpetually high 90 point wine reviews for nearly any wine you can imagine.
How do the proprietors of JustWinePoints justify this?
"we’ve decided to take a different road and value a wine
on what it’s supposed to be. For example: if we taste a Bordeaux that’s
a wannabe “First Growth” than we judge it against a First Growth ideal.
If it’s a $10 red blend from California that aspires to be a $10 red
blend from California, then we value it on that ideal. Honestly, why
judge a $10 red blend from California against a First Growth Bordeaux
if the $10 bottle just wants to be a nice, easy-drinking, everyday red
wine? If it lives up to everything it’s supposed to be, why devalue it
just because it’s not a First Growth?"
Read this carefully. It has the benefit of being both incredibly subversive and at the same time as fair as any wine rating system you’ve ever seen described before. And, it’s an approach to rating wine that lends itself to 99 point wines. It rewards how well the winemaker nailed their INTENTIONS for the wine, not the relative quality of the wine.
Knowing Darryl’s thoughts on the 100 point scale and understanding his view of the industry’s response to his original attempt to undermine the wine industry’s happy self perceptions, you have to admit that JustWinePoints is a brilliant piece of performance art that literally wreaks of irony and satire. It the kind of send off that only Darryl could deliver.
So those of you who dismissed Darryl as bitter, you’ve got to give him is due. This is man who knows how to make a point and is willing to go the distance to do it. That makes him my hero.