While watching a video feed from a Twitter buddy and fellow blogger, I was once again exposed to the snap judgements of Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. The jarring and uniformed nature of his words shocked me as he ranted to the group in front of him, “pinot grigio sucks”. Can such flippant comments reflect someone who really cares about wines and the people that make them? I can assure you that winemakers like Jermann, Felluga, Borgo San Daniele and so many others, including many producers in Alsace and Oregon, don’t think gris/grigio sucks and, in fact, make lovely wines from this variety.
There are several reasons I take issue with Gary’s attitude. First is probably my age, as a 50+ year old person I could be missing something in his style that is appreciated by younger wine drinkers. On this level I’ll give the benefit of the doubt back to Gary. On the second point I’m not so prepared to give ground. This kind of off-the-cuff statement only insults and degrades the work of winemakers, people he professes to admire and reveals a lack of knowledge and experience.
It is interesting that Vaynerchuk made his “pinot grigio sucks” statement in a disingenuous attempt to pump up his take on greco di tufo, a variety that like pinot grigio, produces mostly forgettable wines. The difference of course is that while pinot grigio has a huge market that draws oceans of industrial grigio to the United States, greco di tufo is unknown to Americans so only the better wines reach our shores. Something tells me that Vaynerchuk has spent little, if any, time in Northeastern Italy, where many producers are crafting wonderful wines from pinot grigio. The same goes for Campania, where a lot of ordinary greco di tufo goes down the throats of uncritical tourists. Perhaps if he had actually visited the vineyards and cellars he would have an deeper understanding of these varieties and the people that make wine from them.
If you are going to make a living on the work of others you should at least respect what they do.
Here’s some thoughtful commentary from Josh Hermsmeyer at Pinotblogger on this very topic: