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Thursday Thorns:
The Report Card

By Charles Olken

It feels like it has been a full week of blogging already, and all because our Monday blog paralleled Steve Heimoff’s blog and in turn was picked up by John Kelly’s Winemaker’s Blog. By the time, the dust has settled on the debates about alcohol levels and new paradigms, the scrum involved several writers hurling question marks and epithets at each other and other writers rushing to the defense of each other on both sides of the issue. People from all over the wineloving spectrum jumped in, but fortunately, there was more light than heat shed. No conclusions were reached, but we all had our say, and, you can read the Connoisseurs’ Guide position in our Monday Blog, in the many comments I have inserted on Steve since Monday and over on John Kelly’s Winemaker’s Blog.

Here are the links:

And, if you want more, here is a link to an article in San Francisco Magazine, by the very competent young winewriter, Jordan Mackay. In this instance, I disagree with Jordan for the all reasons you will find at any and all of the CGCW, Steve Heimoff, John Kelly blog links above.

Here are the grades for all of these participants.

Jordan Mackay, for writing an article purporting to educate and instead winds up proselytizing on the one hand and insulting most California wines and the people who like them on the other. GRADE: C-

Steve Heimoff, for having the willingness to use his very popular blog to confront the misdirection inherent in the San Francisco Magazine article. GRADE: A

CGCW, for consistently saying that wine is to be judged one bottle at time and not by some artificial construct, but failing to tie the argument to the people who have brought us to this point. GRADE B

John Kelly, for pulling no punches in disputing the article with winemaking fact, but then pulling a punch or two when he went over to Heimoff’s blog. If you want Mr. Kelly at full roar, go to his blog. GRADE: A-

Charlie Olken, for finding a fuller, richer, more complex voice on the Heimoff and Kelly blogs. GRADE: A-

Insider comment: Steve Eliot commented to me, after seeing my blog, “you really got wound up”. I wish I had been so wound up as I got later into the debate.


And now for something different.


The sardonicly cast blog, Louisville Juice, has alerted me to a San Francisco restaurant into which I will never step foot. No matter whether they can cook or not, this place is too full of itself. On the one hand, it says that it is committed to serving good wine in the simplest possible presentations free of the silliness that it accuses other restaurants of practicing—like stemware. This place, HEART by name, serves wine in Mason jars. OK, I get it, but these are not any Mason jars. These are fancy, imported Italian Mason jars.

Well, I was sort of thinking that they deserve a pass until I read the menu and the wine list. The menu boasts, literally brags, screams “local produce” right down to the Marin County this and the California that, etc, including listing the name of the local provider of the sausages and salumi. Nice touch of braggadocio, that. Then, why is it that this locavore has not one wine on its list from the United States. Come to think of it, now I understand why the wine jars have to come from Italy. Our wines and wine jars are not good enough. Lord save me from phonies like this. GRADE: D.



Consider the following two items that appeared in Tuesday’s wine news.

Morphing 13 academic departments into eight, cutting 25 percent of administrative faculty and potentially shrinking south campus farm operations were major concerns for College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State, or CANR, students meeting with CANR Dean Jeff Armstrong on Monday night.

Jeffrey Armstrong, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State, is one of three finalists for the presidency of California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo.

GRADE: Incomplete, but fingers crossed that he stays at home. We are doing a pretty good job of killing off our educational institutions on our own thanks.

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