So the man I complemented in my last post for dutifully making wine to “irritate the Wine Police,” has explained his philosophy in an open letter he sent to Food & Wine in response to Ray Isle’s “Wine’s Nastiest Feud” column.
It’s more back-and-forth pointed mostly at the In Pursuit of Balance (IPOB) movement. But I found it interesting because it provides insight into Sean Thackrey’s out-spoken personality.
In Down with Wine Dogma, Thackrey calls adhering to certain rules, like creating lower-alcoholic wines, a fad similar to what you find in the fashion world. He writes:
So what’s the point of dogma in all this? Since no one disputes that excellent wine can be made from grapes comparatively lower in sugar, what is the point of arguing that this is so, when no one argues the contrary? Methinks someone’s marketing guru doth protest too much.
If what you’re making really is all that delicious, there’s no need to demonstrate the limitations of your palate by claiming that all wines made with one or two percent more alcohol content are undrinkable; this is too perfectly stupid for comment. Pour what you’ve actually made as wine, so that we can all see how it—rather than your PR bling (i.e., we’re all about subtlety and intellectual complexity and general all-around Frenchness)—actually tastes in the glass.
Food & Wine also published a Q&A with Thackrey where Ray Isle asked him specifically about his descriptive wine label:
You’re not a guy who’s short on opinions. The label on your red wine Pleiades says that its purpose is to “delight the jaded and irritate the Wine Police…” Who are the “wine police”?
Anyone who puts restrictions on what you’re supposed to be able to enjoy. Like the idea that if a wine is 15 percent alcohol, it’s undrinkable—it’s hot, overextracted, raw, a fruit bomb, doesn’t show any subtlety, isn’t French and so on. Give me a break! Just taste it first, OK? People with those kinds of absolute preconceptions, they’re part of the wine police.
What it all comes down to – on both sides of the IPOB-debate – is making good wine that people want to enjoy. But how do you get your brand out there ahead of the others? The IPOB winemakers are using each other to propel their wines, while Thackrey is using his blunt label-writing, his non-conformist attitudes and his opportunity to have his story told in Food & Wine. They’re both marketing methods, right?!
For a bit more about Sean Thackrey, I discovered this short video while Googling.