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    « Opinionated About | Main | An Annual Must Read: Terry Theise's 07 German Vintage Report »

    Pinot Grigio Sucks? That's Vayrrogant

    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.

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    Reader Comments (33)

    "Can such flippant comments reflect someone who really cares about wines and the people that make them?"

    Definitely. What you see as an insulting remark to producers of great pinot grigio is nothing more than the kind of dialogue that, I think, Gary stands for. I think he makes it very clear that he is not trying to be a "new Robert Parker" or a definitive voice for a generation.

    I'm not trying to be a lapdog here, but I don't think this is a fair accusation, almost daily he states that his preferences are personal and not to be applied across the board.
    April 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
    Good rationalization. It's one thing to say things and yet another to practice what you preach. I think you are missing what the product being sold here really is: Brand Gary.
    April 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Camp
    I am very aware of the brand being sold here and I am not blind to the marketing/self-promotion he is doing. I realize he is making money from the entertainment he provides.

    Are you calling him out here on a personal opinion about Pinot Grigio or something else? I just don't see the connection between Greco di tufo and him saying Pinot Grigio sucks. It just seems silly to me to say his statement was disrespectful. If I am indeed missing something, please, fill me in.
    April 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
    Such comments display a lack of knowledge that there is indeed well made pinot grigio/gris. It is an oversimplification on the level of saying all cabernet sauvignon sucks or all chardonnay sucks. While indeed the vast majority of wines produced by those varieties may indeed suck to one degree or another you can't say the variety itself sucks because they clearly have the potential to make excellent wines. The same goes for pinot grigio.

    You are missing something and I expect you miss it because you don't make wine. To heap all producers into the same garbage bin is disrespectful to winemakers that devote their lives to making the best wines they can from this variety. It is on the backs of these people that Brand Gary is built.
    April 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Camp
    I see your point here, and it's a good one. I have to admit that at first thought, I agree with Gary's statement about Pinot Grigio (your example) because the stuff that immediately comes to mind isn't great. Not that Cavit is terrible, but no - its not great. But you're right - there is *amazing* Pinot Grigio out there and I've had it and I should know better than to lump every producer of P.G. into the same pile. And heck, if I have had some great examples of this wine (and our store is nothing compared to the Vaynempire), I have to believe that Gary has too. Instead of making broad generalizations, he should be taking advantage of his status right now and helping people understand what makes a good P.G. His statement was irresponsible IMO. It could come back to bite him too, if he isn't careful. (I'm sure plenty of Wine Library shoppers buy P.G.).
    April 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarol
    1st and formost I respect your thoughts, I really do! I do however think the video was a small snap shot, In that talk that was an hour I am sure ( pretty darn sure) I said not all PG, I said PG as a whole for ME, just me, thats all, I really hope we can sit down and talk about this one day and get to know each other better, I very much respect where u are coming from and hope we do get that chance. TO prove this is me feel free to email me at garyv at winelibrary dot com

    PS I have been to Northern Italy 3 times in the last 60 months :)
    April 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGary Vaynerchuk
    I'm known for being a Vaynerchuk fan, but I also think I'm open minded and fair - so far I haven't found the 2 opinions contradictory.

    Can someone post the link to the episode which shows Gary making the comment, so at least everyone can see the statement in context and make up their own minds?
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKSLaczko
    It is really very simple. Take the following "my age, as a 50+ year old person" + "pinot grigio, produces mostly forgettable wines" + "oceans of industrial grigio" and translate it to an abbreviated millenial version and you get "Pinot Grigio sucks". You DO NOT take from that, he means Tiefenbrunner, Lageder, Zind Humbrecht or Adelsheim. How did you extrapolate that ?

    I think most people realize he isn't saying ALL pinot grigio sucks. It is clear you didn't, but you're not his target market.
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterob2s
    "I think most people realize he isn't saying ALL pinot grigio sucks."

    Why in the world would you think that?

    "pinot grigio, produces mostly forgettable wines"

    All varieties produce mostly forgettable wines. That's the point. Why pick on grigio/gris.
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Camp
    "That's the point. Why pick on grigio/gris."

    He is picking on overproduced industrial Pinot Grigio. You don't have to like what Gary V says or how he says it. If you listen to Gary you'd know he doesn't have it in for any one grape. It is fine for Camp to take issue with Gary's message, I am just contending that it was misinterpreted and that thinking, 'pinot grigio and pinot gris is the same grape, therefore he must also hate gris from Alsace or Oregon' is asinine.
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterob2s
    "Asinine"? The high level of debate that you practice is impressive.

    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Camp
    "The high level of debate that you practice is impressive."
    I do like like your work, and yes you certainly outclass me, and you're exponentially more eloquent. I probably would have said nothing, if you hadn't lumped Alsace and Oregon into your treatise. I still don't get where that comes from. I find OR and Alsatian pinot gris to be NOTHING like run of the mill 1.5 liter shelf stacking Folonari.

    Side note: I was at Wine Library a couple of weeks ago (I live 900 miles away) and bought their 'best' Greco di Tufo and it was barely ok. I found a very nice one at a restaurant in Manhattan (I was on a GdT tour ;-) I liked it better than any grigio I've had. Very expressive, with white peaches and great acidity balance.

    PS Asinine was too strong, baseless is better.
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterob2s
    I really hope people understand that when you talk in public its a small snippet of the overall thought, my point wasn't that all PG sucks, I adore many, it was that people should try different things, I mean Craig please I really hope you would be willing to talk to me sometime, you just posted on twitter that people have seen Pinotbloggers post about me and then went on to say " here comes the spam" I mean are you saying all people that like WLTV are spammers? I don't think so but some could interpret it that way, do you see what I mean? I really am sad that you find this "bad" your opening paragraph is a tough one man, I CARE more about people then I think you assume and you are doing to me what you claim I do to wines. I really hope we can meet one day and get to know each other better!
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGary Vaynerchuk
    Craig your gonna have to change the name of your blog to the Grumpy Old Man Wine Blog if you keep sniping at Gary V this way. Think of him as a way to connect to your grand kids or something....or don't...but if your gonna blog you must expect it....oh wait it drives traffic for you doesn't it....good job!!! you are getting it.
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKVolk
    ob2s: OK, baseless is a point I'm willing to take on ;-).

    Obviously I disagree with that, but that's something we all can live with as long as we're drinking good wine. What were your bad and good Greco experiences?

    Thanks for your comments.
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Camp
    Gary - I'm sure you're a very sincere person and a passionate wine professional. Congratulations on your success, but please remember that with that success and influence comes the weight of responsibility.

    Your blanket condemnation of pinot grigio had an impact on not only the people in that room and everyone they know, but everyone who saw the streaming video. Surely you understand that many thousands of your viewers take what you say as gospel. When I heard your comment I could only cringe as I thought of the dozens of winemakers that I know personally that apply the same passion to pinot grigio that they do to their other varieties.

    You're also going to have to get off this "I'm not a wine critic" thing. You're obviously a critic as long as you critique wines. It is silly to claim you are not a critic. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    I'd happily chat with you anytime and I bet you're a fun and stimulating dinner companion. Just remember the price of your success is that you no longer have the luxury of off-handed comments as they have an impact on the life's work of others.
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Camp
    KVolk - Please go away and find a site where they don't talk about wine as that's what the conversation here is about. Your little rant is embarrassing as not once do you mention anything about wine or the people that make it. There is no room here for groupies following some sort of personality cult.
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Camp
    Craig thnx for the reply and I think you have a valid point, a lesson or 2 learned for sure, but I am sure( or very close to sure) I put some disclaimer in my statement on PG, again I am a huge fan of at least 2 dozen producers of PG, and especially Pinot Gris from a few places. Anyway I do appreciate your comments and I am looking forward to meeting, thnx for replying to my thoughts :) Stay happy and healthy!
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGary Vaynerchuk
    Gary - I will certainly try to visit you on my next trip out east. What are your favorite pinot grigios by the way?
    April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Camp
    "What were your bad and good Greco experiences?"

    Well my best one was at a Sicilian restaurant in Manhattan. It was a 2006 by Terredora Di Paolo in Avellino, an hour west of Napoli. The nose was quite tight, but on the palate it presented a fine balance of the minerality you'd see in a quality chablis (like a $20 Chateau de Maligny Village) with smooth white peaches, not Cali UFOs, but creamy Hood River white peaches in September. Not a very long finish, but you rush to take another sip anyway. Towards the end of the bottle, the nose became more apparent with apples and creamy lemon. It was $45 at the restaurant, but online can be had for $16ish in NY/NJ. I ordered a case, I hope it will be as good. I'd like to think that I am not subject to the psychosomatic cliche: good restautant + good time + average wine = perceived great wine ;-)
    April 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterob2s
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