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He Wasn't Talking To You, Mr. Outrage

Jon Bonné wrote a book. People love it. People hate it.

Some people who love it continue to enjoy the “lean, fresh and balanced” California wines they’ve already been drinking, perhaps a bit more proudly now that a respected writer is so publicly in their camp. Others who love the book are giving California wines a try for the first time in decades, or for the first time in their lives. They’ve grown up on lighter wines, probably Old World and probably from neither Bordeaux nor Chateauneuf-du-Pape. For any number of reasons, these folks have been unaware that some California wines suit their palates. I believe Jon Bonné wrote his book for these people.

320px-Angry tigerAmong the people who hate “New California Wine” are those who don’t like the wines it champions, who don’t make wines in that style, or who write about wine from the opposite point of view. They have been writing in blogs, magazines and message boards about about how horrible the book is, how it’s trying to fix something that isn’t broken and how unprofessional Bonné is for expressing his opinions.

Bonné wasn’t talking to them. He doesn’t think the whole California wine industry will change. He doesn’t think the sun will get colder, California rainier or that people who love rich, opaque, mouth-filling wines are going to suddenly switch to Trousseau Gris. What he wants is for “his” wines to get a little more attention and to find an audience. His book isn’t intended to destroy the California wine industry but to expand its sales by appealing to people who would never buy the opulent wines that Robert Parker, James Laube, et al praise.

Bonne’s been called self-serving. For expressing his opinions? If the book had diverged from the views he’s been expressing for years in order to grab attention, I could see that. It doesn’t. He's taken the perspectives for which he's known and sandwiched them between two pieces of stiff cardboard. And he isn't claiming to have "saved the world from Parkerization."

I don’t have a dog in this fight. I like wines of both styles. I’m a personal friend of neither Jon Bonné nor his detractors. But I’m fed up with critics who appear to think they’re the only ones allowed to express opinions. I’m surprised they don’t realize that, by sounding off against “New California Wine” in vehicles with substantial reach, they are only drawing more attention to that which they hope nobody will buy. And, as Robert Parker said just before launching into attack mode, I’m disappointed in the lack of civility.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for wine news, information on events and more, or friend me on Facebook. This article is original to Copyright 2014. Angry cat photo by Guyon Morée All rights reserved.



katie bell
#1 katie bell 2014-03-28 17:52
Amen Brother Swan, absolutely on the money...and we're talking about WINE here people, not Crimea. Let's just all pour a glass (of lean or extracted) wine and relax.
#2 Rich 2014-03-29 18:53

I think you're guilty of meta- meta- blogging.

Greg Martin
#3 Greg Martin 2014-03-30 05:17
It is my opinion that you should be elected #1 WINE BLOGGER and Perhaps #1 WINE REVIEWER! ALWAYS REFRESHING!!!
Chris Miller
#4 Chris Miller 2014-03-31 16:59

I've been traveling about the wine world and missed R. Parker Jr's Civil Rant. Can you link to it on the blog?

Wine is diverse... isn't that great. It just doesn't suit big business if it's too diverse. Oh well.
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