The Ongoing Roar
Alice Feiring….You GO!
I think it’s great that the San Francisco Chronicle and the LA Times would give Alice a fairly large stage to bitch and moan about California wine not being to her tastes and the contention that a single, Maryland-based Palate is the reason for her California Discontent.
Alice is in the midst of promoting her new book that takes the art of bitching and moaning into a book length format. Feiring’s "The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization" has a whimsical looking cover design that might just as easily be translated to a publishing effort on how pandas and tulips can save the world. But it seems behind the happy cover lies another approach:
"Join her as she sets off on her one-woman crusade against the tyranny
of homogenization, wine consultants, and, of course, the 100-point
scoring system of a certain all-powerful wine writer."
Just for the record there is no tyranny of Homogenization in the world of CA wine. There is only disappointment that most wines don’t appeal to one’s palate. It’s also true that Alice’s call for more "natural" winemaking and "natural" wines is really just a a reflection of her philosophy of life and not a critique of winemaking. It’s highly doubtful she or most others could consistently identify wines that are made with and without "natural" winemaking techniques.
Still, I love to see Alice, this artful writer, make a full frontal assault on those wineries and critics who like
to drink and make wines that don’t appeal to her. There is a passion here that transcends and makes secondary work of the disappointment that is at the heart of her recent screeds and editorials. It’s good writing, it’s controversial, it engages the reader and it demonstrates that the politics of preference is alive and well in the world of wine.
As I read the good news today that the California Supreme Court overturned the law prohibiting same-sex marriage, I saw similarities between Feiring’s position that California wine should be more subdued and natural and the opponents of the California Supreme Court ruling who believed marriage should be what it always was, between a man and a woman. Both Alice and the conservative, anti-gay camp believe there has been some brainwashing going on. But in the long run, both the opponents of same sex marriage and Alice will lose their battles. America is not, and never was, a place where traditions were forceful enough to squash the aspirations of those who choose to simply do what they want as long as it’s not hurting anyone.
The big, bold wines that Alice believes are imitations of what real wine should be will be with us forever and will continue to be made because California’s climate allows this as does technology, and because other people like them. But she should take take heart. There will always be Cathy Corisons, Steve Edmunds, Stony Hills and many, many others who, if Alice wants to seek them out, will demonstrate that there is no winemaking region in the world more diverse in the style of wines it produces than California.
Nice review of Feiring’s New Book at The Women’s Wine Critic Blog.