Howard Goldberg, a fairly well known American wine writer does a weekly column in the New York Times on Long Island wines, not-so-creatively titled Long Island Vines. As a Long Island wine lover, I read it every Sunday. Sometimes I really enjoy it. He has better connections than I do (at this point) and usually hears about stuff long before I do.
Sometimes though...I'm disappointed. This week's column is one of the disappointing ones (not because of Howard though). And, I think it illustrates why the job of "International wine god" is so difficult...and why we shouldn't always assume the "experts" are right.
In the piece, Howard notes that Hugh Johnson and Oz Clarke have mentioned Long Island wineries in their annual buying guides, which is great. There is even a small mention in Karen McNeil's Wine Bible about our region as well.
But it's obvious to me, someone who is intimately familiar with the region and the wines, that they either haven't been here recently, didn't do a comprehensive tasting of the wines, or (and I hope this isn't true) fell victim to Long Island's wine marketing machines.
Hugh Johnson (not to be confused with wine blogging star Huge Johnson) lists Martha Clara, The Old Field, Sherwood House and Raphael as the region's "promising new wineries." I've got not problem with that list...but there are serious omissions in Cometesse Therese and Waters Crest. That's just a matter of not being here enough to know who the future superstars will be. Of all the regions Johnson visits...I'm sure Long Island still doesn't garner much attention.
I do, however, think that at least one of the wineries he gives three stars to (meaning "well known, highly reputed") must have had its marketeers cranking at full throttle. Pindar, maker of several marginally gulpable wines and sweetish blends is listed and I think that's just not a fair representation.
Aside from their delicious sparkling wine and their great-for-the-money Riesling, they aren't making many wines of note...at least not compared to the others on the list. They cater to the white zin crowd...and that's fine. That's their right and I applaud them actually. They are the best marketed Long Island winery...no doubt there. And, as I said, I do enjoy some of their wines. I just can't see how they can be listed at the same "level" as the others on the list.
To see Mr. Johnson award them three stars is beyond confusing to me.
Oz Clarke's list is much more accurate in my opinion...though outdated as well. Again, I'm sure he's not here very often.
My question is this:
If you're recognized the world over as a wine guru...don't you owe it to your readers to fully research/taste/experience even the smallest regions if you want to include them in your buying guide? Especially in an emerging region, don't you need to go back regularly?
I know that I'd ONLY feel comfortable writing that type of piece on Long Island (and Finger Lakes) wines.