Robert Sinskey doesn’t think much of wine writers. Oh, dear.
He does, however, have a soft spot for ‘lumbersexual sommeliers’, which I suspect is really a hard spot, but I would never say that, because otherwise, when I tear the venerable Napanese sot a new lumbersexual-ready knothole, I might come across as petty and vindictive.
And we can’t have that, can we?
Sinskey (patriarch of Sinskey Vineyards except for the father who’s been doddering around the lower forty since 2000) recently wrote an op-ed for Eater, the self-styled Vox Media ‘society/culture’ cluster-bleep which relies heavily on advertising from people who own, among other things, vineyards.
Titled ‘Why Sommeliers Matter More Than Wine Scores’, it begins by postulating that ‘the era of wine arrogance is over’, then proceeds to disprove its own postulate by projectile-puking several hundred words of venom unsullied by any predilection other than arrogance.
After taking an unnecessary and inaccurate opening swipe at Robert Parker Jr., referring to him as an ‘ex-attorney who anointed himself the palate of America’ (when we all know that nobody was more surprised to Parker’s rise to fame than Bobby P. himself), he suggests that sommeliers—who he considers ‘young and cool’—are an industry vox populi more valid than either wine critics or the Vox Mediapuli trainwreck he writes for.
In mathematics, this may be referred to as a non-logical axiom, because not all sommeliers are young and hardly any are cool. He follows that singular inanity with another, suggesting that since wine critics do not ‘rise through the ranks of cuisine and service’ their loyalty is to their own egos before it is to their reader’s palate.
So my question is this:
Some wine writers do have a fine-dining rap sheet, including me, but what does that have to do with a critic’s role in the scheme of wine appreciation? A sommelier recommends bottles from a finite and inventory-sensitive wine cellar in order to make money for the boss; if a critic is found to have benefited financially from a supposedly objective recommendation, his/her career is in jeopardy. If a series of such recommendations turn a huge profit for the restaurant, the sommelier gets a bonus. If the same holds true for a critic, he or she gets a pink slip. Or should.
But I digress, which is exactly what Sinskey does for the next six hundred words in which he offers us a succinct, if unsolicited, history of wine in America, culminating in another rip at his namesake Robert, whose 100-point scale he refers to as ‘simplistic’ and who, mid-rip, he inexplicably credits for having recognized 1982 as one of the defining Bordeaux vintages of the twentieth century long before other critics who, throughout the tirade, remain unidentified and thus, ripped-by-proxy.
But, Back to The Lumbersexuals
Here is a picture of Sinskey. Please note that he has what may be described as a classic lumbersexual visage. In fact, he appears to be an archetype of the breed; the Platonic essence of whisker-sprouting, lumbersexist desperation.
Let’s analyze this face from a purely objective physiological perspective: The bone structure radiates a certain wimplicity that is echoed in the choice of corrective lenses: Half-frame granny spectacles hanging from a cord around his neck like a heterosexually-repressed librarian. His boyish bangs, the color of the Pillsbury Doughboy’s tushie, dangle with forced nonchalance above a neat, multi-toned, meticulously-groomed beard; the open-collar designer shirt suggests the faux-ruggedness of any self-respecting lumbersexual—looking the part without actually being the part.
Because, of course, Sinskey does not come from actual lumbercultural roots; he’s a Fine Arts major from Parsons School of Design on 5th Ave and W. 13th. And trust me, Greenwich Village is about as far from the logging communities of the Great Northwest as you can get and still be within this galactic arm.
But, that’s the beauty of lumbersexuality. It requires a beard and butt bangs and some synthetic machismo, but no skills whatsoever with a chainsaw.
That’s why he’d be advised to not to wield one in the personal space of passive-aggressive pundits like moi.
Hiding a Multitude of Sinskeys
It’s said that if you claim to understand quantum mechanics it’s because nobody ever explained it to you. Same goes for the 100-point scale, which Sinskey finds ‘simplistic’ and I find anything but. In fact, my objection to the 100-point scale is not that it’s too simple, it is that it’s too complex and ultimately makes no sense. But that’s fodder for future fustian forays.
It’s also said that no one who bitches about Parker’s scoring system ever got a 95+, but Robert Sinskey makes some very nice wines and it is inconceivable that his unaccountable anti-critic ire could result from him being on the shit-end of the score stick. So I spent some time on the net, and yet, and yet…
I couldn’t find a single link where Wine Advocate listed a Robert Sinskey wine; not a single Parker score for a single Sinskey wine anywhere.
That strikes me as weirder than a cocktail party at the Betty Ford Clinic, so I’m hoping that you boys and girls at home can help me out.
In any case, Sinskey’s ungood upchuck of umbrage is unsettling to us ego-driven scribes who, let’s be honest, serve at the pleasure of winemakers. Were they to collectively go all Sinskey on our asses and refuse by court injunction to allow us to write about their products, can you imagine the slow death we’d die? —Or, suffering a fate worse than death, be forced to write about beer? It would be like a Passion Play about the Middle Ages when those vassalsexuals (winemakers) assumed the Black Plague was spread by cats (wine writers) and killed them all, then discovered the disease was actually spread by rats (sommeliers) which now proliferated in the absence of cats.
What a world our children would inherent.
No, I think it behooves us odd bedfellows in the Kebo Futon Sofabed® of life if we strive en masse to respect the fruits of each others’ labor, to work together for a Uniteder States of America, to join forces as sentinels of liberty, indivisible, without regard to color, religion, creed or lumbersexual orientation.
To Robert Sinskey, your humble narrator says:
“Remember Wake Island, sir! Remember Pearl Harbor! Remember The Maine! And above all, remember your duty to your galactic arm!
Now, go in peace and sinskey no more.”
Over at the Wine Spectator there’s 37 reviews, two of which are 90 for the 1990 and 91 chardonnay. On average, the wines are at 85. At Wine Enthusiast there are 8 reviews, four 90 and above with a 90 average.
I found those, Kevin, which is what made it the more odd. NONE from Parker?
By what you wrote, you would think I criticized Mohammad. I don’t attack wine writers… a matter of fact I have a lot of respect for wine journalists, just not the 100 point system. I am not alone in my opinion. I believe the acceptance of the 100 pt system disrupted the evolution of wine in the US and contributed to a monochromatic industry that will take another generation to correct. I do not send wine out for review and haven’t since the early 90’s. I don’t play the game. Parker reviewed some of my early wines as stylish and then later accused us of over acidulating when we released a non-malolactic Chardonnay. He preferred fleshy, we preferred crisp and precise. He also reviewed a Merlot barrel sample when he had never visited the winery and a Russian River Pinot Noir that we never made. He has a very particular palate. I decided it was more important to respect the land than make a wine for a critic. Also, it didn’t help that other magazines asked for advertising in exchange for high scores. My point was the return of the Somm. They are more casual than they used to be but have a skill that should be utilized for the direct communication of likes and dislikes. A two way conversation is a better way to learn than assuming a score will help you select the best wine for your dinner. If you read it as an attack, you are too sensitive and not in touch with your inner lumber-sexual.
My inner lumbersexual was cremated by my inner pyrosexual, but point taken. Kudos for being a sport about it; it’s all for the lulz.
DAMN SINSKEY SERVIN YOU UP 100 POINT STYLE IN THE COMMENTS DIS LUMBERSEXJACK GOT NO CHILL BRUH NO CHILL STRAIGHT DISHIN YOU YOUR GRUMPY KNUCKLE HAMMERIN FALLACIES RIGHT BACK AT YA!!!!!!!!!!
Please use your indoor voice, Buddy. We are all right here.