Reading a fairly recent WS blog by James Laube about winemakers with style reminded me of what Scott has been saying since ’45:
“I don’t make wine for anyone except me.”
“Wait. Woah. Hold on, Hoss,”
I’d say to him.
“How the hell are we supposed to sell wine you only make for yourself?!”
Even before planting the vineyard we had talked about not catering to the critic’s palate, and for sure not rushing after or trying to predict the wine flavour of the day. That wasn’t the point of any of this. But to hear Scott put it out there on the table so, well, matter-of-factly (or egoistically, depending on how one feels AT THE TIME), I was taken aback, made a little nervous.
Maybe it’s about that “believing” thing again, how, despite how deep we’re in this, I still don’t believe it’s happening, still holding myself an arm’s length away, lingering, and watching. Or maybe it’s a fear-based thing in that the world of wine is rather immense, and as newcomers we’re greeted with skepticism and suspicion, and laughter we know, for wanting to do something different; I mean, making wine for yourself, like painting for yourself or writing or any creative endeavor will not be taken well by those who are afraid to step out and do their own thing. Or could it be a fear-of-believing thing? That if I were to come fully on board, let go of my pessimism and be like that sea turtle I hovered over and ride with the tide, stop fighting the current, then what would that be like? Trust, LaMonica. Have faith and trust.
Because when I DO think about it, think about what I know about Scott, think about myself, why would we EVER embark on a project as huge and risky as this, all on our few dimes and under our direction, and then simply make a wine for someone else? Doesn’t make sense. Where’s the joy in seeing how your wine turns out? And more importantly, molded to the whims of another, how could it ever stand on its own?
Laube calls it “risky,” to always chase a critic’s taste since it always leaves you guessing. Scott had this to say when I read him this sentence:
“Laube is talking bullshit. The primary thing that makes a critic a good critic is consistency, a consistent palate. What Laube is saying has no bearing. If the palate’s all over the place from month to month or vintage to vintage, what good does chasing scores do? A critic’s palate is fixed, you’re not chasing anything. You know what it is.”
I say the risk goes even farther, that running after critics and consumers poses a greater risk to the entire industry: of commonality and homogeneity for a sea of similar wine. I know, I know, I think it was Asimov who said something to the effect of enough about homogeneity, there’s plenty to choose from. He should know, with his experience. But from what I read it’s plenty from outSIDE this country.
Then Scott points out what is the riskiest of all:
“It’s what we’re doing. Not chasing critics or consumer segments or anything.”
See? There’s my at arm’s length coming in again; why don’t I realize this on my own? Sigh.
So, Scott makes wine for himself. Is he a winemaker with style? Scott says,
“I don’t care about being stylish for goddsakes, I use Fred Meyer plastic bags as my briefcase!”
(Oh, someone, please send us a Migros bag or two. Bitte.). But Scott does make wine according to how he thinks it should be made, his own vision, not for scores and of course not for meaningless ribbons.
“I don’t like the word ‘style,’”
he continues. Oh dear. I was hoping to end this by saying “According to James Laube Scott IS [a winemaker with style].” But Scott doesn’t care about any of that. He’s just making wine. His wine. For himself. Risk and all. And we will sell that wine. We will.
Keeeeep talking to me sea turtles.