Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How I got the name McSnobblier

Back in the early part of the century (2003 maybe) I wrote an article for a magazine called the Improper Hamptonian about the local wine industry. I don't have a link to the original but I reposted the response article on my website.

The original article that got me the name McSnobbelier was a shot across the bow of the Long Island Wine Industry as I wondered why they put all their focus on producing Chardonnay and Merlot and virtually ignored Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. My premise was that to make the greatest Chardonnay or Merlot a new wine region had to compete against the marketing, history and quality of some of the world's greatest wines. Why not use the soil and climate advantage that Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc have on Long Island and the weakness of the marketplace those two grapes used to have as well. This of course has changed since 2003 or 2004 when I originally made that comment.

When the original article was published I was very upset with my editor as she had made changes to the article that changed the tone and meaning. I came across as far more critical of Long Island Wine Industry than I liked due to editing. But when I got the letter, I realized that sometimes being controversial works... a la Steve Cuozzo of NY Post writing about snobbish wine lists.

I got a bit of backlash from associates that owned vineyards and wineries in my backyard and from the founding member of the industry Louisa Hargrave. Along with the winery owners that disliked this theory, I also got a letter to editor saying that I shouldn't call myself an Advanced Sommelier rather I was a Master Snobelier. So I embraced the moniker, though changed it a bit.

Above is the original letter, here is it in print with my Editors response:

Hello Improper,
I’ve been enjoying your magazine since its “Hamptonian” days. I usually look for the wine articles in the local magazines. 1 Found the November “WINE OBSERVER” to be a little offensive to our local wine industry. Chris Miller was reviewing a wine tasting at the new Stony Brook Center for Wine, Food and Culture With Kevin Zraly. Now everyone is entitled to their opinions, but...if Chris is going to list his top 3 choices per flight, then LIST THEM! I wasn't there so I don’t know exactly which wineries and vintages were tasted, but I understand that there were wines from: France, Germany and California in addition to Upstate NY, and Long Island. What caught my attention and raised my ire was the last paragraph of his Blind Flight article. Chris can be as bored as he wants to be with Chardonnay (A.B.C.), but to “DIS” both local Chardonnay and Cab Franc so badly as to not bothering to rank them, OR any of the other wines in those 2 flights??? Worse yet is to say that he doesn’t think Long Island is suitable For Chardonnay (Hello? how many acres and awards) and Cab Franc isn’t showing up to potential (Jamesport CF. 2001 recently voted “Best Red “fine in NYS"). To me this means one thing, Chris may be an Advanced Sommelier, but I think he is more a candidate for “Master
Enjoyer of Local Wines, John Graeb, Cutchoguc
Thanks for your letter John, but don’t be too hard on Chris, be is all subject to editing-—-which in this case is the culprit for any snobbery. What is represented in his final paragraph is merely Chris’ opinion of the Cab Franc present that day. As Chardonnay, now that’s a matter of taste, which he did not have that day as he did not attend the Chard tasting.

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