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April 25, 2007

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Howard Goldberg began writing about Long Island wines over 20 years ago when no one else would. I think he deserves tremendous credit for helping give the industry visibility as well as credibility. He's consistently recognized the value and quality of what we do when many other critics dismissed our efforts. He's also led the way for recognition of Finger Lakes Riesling as the signature grape of the area and been influential in the region's vinifera revival.
Of course not everyone is going to be happy with everything he writes - we've all had our share of negative reviews. But if you're going to play the game you have to have the stomach to deal with both the wins and the losses. Anything else is just "sour grapes."
Hats off to Howard for letting readers at the New York Times learn more about Long Island wines.

I can't resist...

To start, I have first hand knowledge of at least one winery that refused to send samples to HG despite repeated requests on his part, so I can confirm that statement.

Howard gave us some good press at the outset, but he ultimately became a liability due to his occasionally thoughtless approach and ongoing inconsistencies. On the "thoughtless" side, he reviewed our 2001 Broadfields Merlot alongside Wolffer's La Ferme Martin and two other entry level bottlings and characterized our wine as "heavy handed" and "overdone". I suspect I would come to the same conclusion if I tasted a brawny Cru Beaujolais from Michaud or Brun next to a bunch of Nouveau bottlings, but I would never do that because it's an apples to oranges comparison and is therefore essentially meaningless.

We also got spanked for charging $21 for our Tasting Room Pinot Noir one week after he raved about another winery's $18 Sauvignon Blanc. Keep in mind that this was a few years ago, when great NZ SB's in the $10-12 range were still available in abundance. If we were "out of market" by $6 (which I question, but just for the sake of argument), surely that SB was as well, but there was no mention of price in that review. This is the kind of inconsistency that leads to charges of favoritism.

Being outside of the industry can be somewhat liberating at a time like this...


I can't speak to any of Robin's points from experience, but $21 being too much for a Pinot Noir? I'd LOVE to know what P.N. he's drinking for $15 or less that is so good. Other than a few recent productions from that other hemisphere, aren't most decent P.N. bottlings AT LEAST $20?

And I don't mind saying publicly that I find Howard's LI coverage to be all over the map - for no reason. (But then again, while I am in the industry, I don't have retail wine for Howard to review!) Some weeks his column seems to have nothing bad to say - and to the extreme that I seriously question the term "critic" if/when he is described as such. More often, his column makes him sound like a cheerleader. And then, every 5th or 6th column, he seems to balance all the cheerleading with one entire scathing column ripping someone to shreds. And I don't think I've ever even come close to agreeing that any of his scathing reviews were even close to being justified. Especially when the regions largest producer gets accolades from him as if they were some boutique producer.

I do agree with Richard that Howard deserves a ton of credit for what he has DONE. But past actions, no matter how grand (and his were grand) don't justify current "eccentricities" if I may. I've stopped reading his column (both in the NY Times and in my wine mag of choice, Decanter) and, if I did make wine, I wouldn't send him some. Well, maybe I would, but I'd send him something I'm about to sell out of. :)

I just never seem to agree with anything the guy says about wine.

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