Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.

The Ethics of Wine Critics

The vast majority of wine critics demonstrate a well-balanced sense of ethics
10
30%
A small majority of wine critics demonstrate a well-balanced sense of ethics
8
24%
Less than half of wine critics demonstrate a well-balanced sense of ethics
5
15%
More than half of wine critics demonstrate unethical behavior
2
6%
Most wine critics demonstrate unethical behavior
1
3%
I have no opinion on the issue
7
21%
 
Total votes : 33
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Bill Hooper

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Re: The Ethics of Wine Critics

by Bill Hooper » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:19 am

Stuart Yaniger wrote:
I've tasted with one of CA state wine competition judges where even pointing out a seriously tainted bottle (blind setup again with raging TCA taking place), she still picked it as her number 1 of the flight and night.


TCA sensitivity is quite variable and doesn't necessarily correlate to other tasting abilities. I have a friend who's an MW, clearly quite able to repeatably and accurately taste and judge, but he just cannot get TCA.


MW or not, If you cannot accurately detect TCA in wine, you should find new work.

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Thomas

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Re: The Ethics of Wine Critics

by Thomas » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:52 am

I want out of this discussion, but can't help respond to this Alex quote:

"But learned discussions about oenology will just put people off and/or bore them. They are largely irrelevant to most of us, except along the broadest lines."

I doubt anyone, certainly not I, wants critics to go into learned oenology discussions--yours, Alex, is what is referred to as a straw man argument.

A critic's training should show in the judging results, not in a dissertation on oenology.

Re, filtration: Greg is pointing out the inconsistency of a critic who should be able to tell whether or not a finished wine has been filtered. In other words, a critic who disdains sterile filtration, claiming that it strips wine of its essence or whatever, should not be giving top scores to sterile filtered wine, but does. I believe that Greg faults the lack of training for that inconsistency. Correct me if I'm wrong about that, Greg.

Now I'm out of the discussion--just wanted to correct Alex's interpretation regarding how a critic's training should manifest itself in print.
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Greg Piatigorski

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Re: The Ethics of Wine Critics

by Greg Piatigorski » Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:22 pm

Stuart Yaniger wrote:
I've tasted with one of CA state wine competition judges where even pointing out a seriously tainted bottle (blind setup again with raging TCA taking place), she still picked it as her number 1 of the flight and night.


TCA sensitivity is quite variable and doesn't necessarily correlate to other tasting abilities. I have a friend who's an MW, clearly quite able to repeatably and accurately taste and judge, but he just cannot get TCA.


Stuart,

And I cannot argue with your point, that is understood. Yet, please explain to me, how a a heavily spoiled TCA wine shows any TRUE characteristic of a varietal or AVA? Same as with brett, for example, when it is in very small quantities (until it starts interacting with air and blooms quickly), a wine can show brett as just a layer, yet when it is heavy, as are many cases, how can one even tell the varietal let alone the quality of the fruit?

If I am tasting a bottle of, say, Pinot Noir, and TCA obliterates the nose and palate impressions, how am I to judge the wine and score it? Same with brett, IMO. If one is incapable of detecting TCA and then describes the wine without mentioning it, what good is the review and evaluation to me or you?
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AlexR,

You are right that self taught palates can be as good at evaluating wine as those who went through rigorous training. Manfred Krankl, Adam Lee, many others. As a matter of fact, we have a few wine geeks in my tasting groups whose evaluation skills are much better than professional reviewers', IMO.

But your argument assumes that the person HAS learned proper evaluation process and can ID faults in wine. And this, as has been my own experience, takes place with way too few a person, most can't even tell the difference between simple reduction and brett, or worse yet, earthiness and brett. When I evaluate a wine and state "VA", I get plenty of strange looks from people asking me, What the hell is VA? We're talking retail shop owners/personnel, sommeliers, etc., all professionals supposedly.
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Greg Piatigorski

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Re: The Ethics of Wine Critics

by Greg Piatigorski » Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:33 pm

AlexR and Thomas,

Before I am off to tasting and evaluating wines for the new wine shop near my house....

AlexR, yes, I meant the real deal. Do not recall any critic giving 100 points to any of the "look alikes" :D
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Thomas,

You are right in your assessment with one caveat. My point to Parker, which he didn't like at all, was that if he would be tasted on 2 wines, made same way with one sterile filtered and the other not, he would be hard pressed to tell me which one was which given that both wines had sufficient time to recuperate after bottling (bottling shock issue). In this particular case no amount of training would help anyone since the exercise would be futile, the wines will taste somewhat different, but you are incapable of telling a sterile filtered one.

But you are right, of course, in that I find it extremely amateurish that Parker rails against sterile filtration, but then gives out crazy scores to these wines. Pretty much shows two things: A) he has no idea about the subject and B) he should open up his mind and learn something once in a while.
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OK, I am off with glass in hand, will check back tonight...
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Stuart Yaniger

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Re: The Ethics of Wine Critics

by Stuart Yaniger » Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:11 pm

Yet, please explain to me, how a a heavily spoiled TCA wine shows any TRUE characteristic of a varietal or AVA?


To me, it doesn't, but I am highly sensitive to TCA. To someone insensitive, I can't answer that, never having walked in those shoes. But presumably, if one is sharp enough at tasting to get an MW, this particular insensitivity can't be too much of an impediment. It would be a fatal flaw, however, in someone doing winery QC.
"A clown is funny in the circus ring, but what would be the normal reaction to opening a door at midnight and finding the same clown standing there in the moonlight?" — Lon Chaney, Sr.
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Robin Garr

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Re: The Ethics of Wine Critics

by Robin Garr » Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:08 pm

I'm resurrecting this thread because I ran into an interesting real-world application yesterday, and in the spirit of self-criticism :oops: I'm stepping forward to discuss it and invite your thoughts and comments:

* I agreed, as a favor to a friend in the business, to present a talk and guide a tasting of eight high-end Super Tuscans (including 2005 Sassicaia) at a trade event yesterday. I did it because I was willing to help, and crazy me, I actually enjoy doing this kind of thing. I did not request an honorarium and did not expect one.

* As I was leaving, the hostess handed me a box and said, "We wanted to give you this to thank you." Hokay, thought I. They're a wine distributor, and they've got lots of throwaways hanging around. So I get home and open it, and it turned out to be four pretty good Super Ts. Okay, not Sassicaia. But decent stuff, retailing maybe in the $50 to $80 range.

I'm thinking over how to deal with this. I don't accept free wine samples for review. But under normal circumstances (as opposed to favors for friends), I would expect an honorarium or fee for suiting up and spending an hour being witty and bright and wine-savvy in front of an audience of 120.

I'm thinking that there's no reason for guilt, and it would be prissy in the extreme for me to give it back. I'm pretty sure I won't feel bad about drinking it. But I'm a little more conflicted about whether it would be a breach of my "no freebies" principle to REVIEW them. I don't normally buy and review wines at this price level, and it might be something that readers would enjoy. So why do I feel funny about it? Would a review with disclosure of the circumstances be sufficient to bend my "no reviews on freebies" rule? Or should I simply enjoy the wine but don't write about it?

I'll eventually make my own decision, but I'd like to know what you folks think.
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Daniel Rogov

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Re: The Ethics of Wine Critics

by Daniel Rogov » Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:31 pm

Robin, Hi.....

Considering that in many cases you would have received an honorarium for your efforts and that the wines were clearly presented as a form of a "thank you", I see no problem here, especially if you explain how you came by the wines. In fact, makes a rather pleasing anecdote with which to preface your crits.

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Re: The Ethics of Wine Critics

by Robin Garr » Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:54 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Considering that in many cases you would have received an honorarium for your efforts and that the wines were clearly presented as a form of a "thank you", I see no problem here, especially if you explain how you came by the wines. In fact, makes a rather pleasing anecdote with which to preface your crits.

Thanks, Rogov. I probably telegraphed that this was my feeling after all is said and done, but I appreciate the reality check.
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