Thanks for a remarkably well-balanced and interesting reply. I had no idea you would be reading my post!
I see where you are coming from better now.
I trust that my use of the word "inadvertent" and the way I introduced my reference to your site (rather than blog
showed you that I meant no harmful criticism whatsoever of what you do. [i]Au contraire[/i] !
Furthermore, I much appreciated your notes on your recently Loire Valley trip, and am interested in buying the St. Nicolas de Bourgueil you raved about!
As regards your comments, you ask "If I moved to Bordeaux, would I be in a stronger position" (in speaking of understanding affordably-priced Bordeaux).
I would answer an emphatic "yes" to that question.
While I do believe it is possible to have a very good handle on the great growths if you live near London, let's say, with all the tastings held there, and travel to Bordeaux a couple of times a year, there is such a variety and scope to the other 95% of Bordeaux that living here much of the year would be (is) a decided advantage IMHO. Being based where they make the wine opens the door to discovering good, but little-known wines much more easily and keeps you very up-to-date with all the news… and gossip.
While the benefits of being in the wine country are pretty self-explanatory, you wonder if there is not an increased temptation to be swallowed up by the local power structure – to become complacent at best, beholden at worst.
Since the thread is about ethics, that indirectly asks the question: is the wine writer based far away from the wine country freer to express his honest opinions?
My gut reaction is: I don't see why this should be. If a château owner were to have it in for a wine writer (this has, of course, been known to happen - http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_q ... _n14313033
) I don't think the fallout would be worse for a local wine writer than someone far away. The difficulty there would be between 2 people, not a critic and an entire region (although, this too, has happened on rare occasions, such as Clive Coates zero out of twenty rating for 1982 Sauternes).
However, it raises another question: why are almost all the most popular critics located in London, Paris, suburban Washington, etc? The only one I can think of in the wine country is Jean-Marc Quarin http://www.quarin.com/abonnement.php
or possibly Clive Coates (although he's semi-retired, isn't he?).
Is this just a coincidence?
I would also like to raise the issue of whether or not a wine journalist and/or critic should accept a free meal.
The consensus seems to be that accepting gifts of wine is unethical (I find this compromising for a critic, but less so for a journalist – but perhaps I am in the minority).
But what about meals?
You and I met at Château Brown. We had an extensive tasting there and a meal. I have no problem with that (although it's true that my notes are more informal, and I don't have my own site).
How do people reading this thread feel about that?
I must point out though that free meals are offered left right and center in Bordeaux. One would have to be a saint to skip every last one…
Last, but not least, Chris, please forgive me for murdering your last name. It's the last thing someone named Rychlewski should do!
All best wishes,