I’ve gotten a few emails about my post a couple of weeks ago about the Wine Advocate’s recent coverage of New York wines, charging that I was overly negative and (shockingly) dismissed David Schildknecht’s credentials.
Re-reading my post, I still think I was pretty even handed, but I wanted to offer a few more thoughts to make sure that my feelings are clear.
Now hear this — this is a milestone for NY and Long Island wines. There is no disputing that, regardless of what you think of the 100-point scoring system, Parker or his influence on consumers. This is the most complete, single publication, review of Long Island wine. It is sure to bring further attention to the region and its wines. That’s a good thing.
It also brings legitimacy (where there may not have been) to the region in the eyes of that subset of wine consumers who either had bad experiences with Long Island wine in its infancy or who follow Parker scores blindly. Legitimacy, again, is a good thing.
But, too often wineries hang their hats on scores and awards. How many wineries don’t say "award-winning wines" in their brochures or on their website? I do a lot of my research online, and almost to a winery, that phrase appears somewhere. So, I think the enthusiasm over the WA coverage, while deserved, shouldn’t run wild without a realistic view.
For instance, of almost 40 Long Island wineries, only 15 had at least one wine score an 85 or higher. Further, only 7 scored a 90 or better. And the highest score was a 92.
Do I think that 92 is the ceiling for local wines? Absolutely not and that is not my point. I fully expect that when some of the 2005s I’ve tasted in barrel are release and reviewed, they will score significantly higher than that. I think some of them will crack the 95 barrier.
Ultimately, it is the consumer who will decide if Long Island (and New York) wines are a good as I think they are. The fact is, while Schildknecht’s commentary talks about the potential of the region going forward, most consumers aren’t going to see that. They are going to see wines on store shelves with little cards that max out at 92 and $50…right next to $10 wines from other regions with a similar score.
Yes, Schildknecht’s review of the region is a milestone, but it’s an early milestone in the overall timeline of Long Island wine. That’s all I’m saying.
Oh, and to the reader who accused me of bashing Schildknecht or discrediting him, please re-read my original post. I did nothing of the sort. In fact, without meeting him, I’m impressed with his ability to taste wines and write terrific tasting notes. And, every winemaker I spoke to came away saying he was a focused, meticulous taster with an impressive palate. I hope to meet him one day, hopefully when he visits again.