Friday, January 11, 2008

Creative Expression vs Economic Opportunism; Comparing wine to '80s music

Call me an idealist, a business novice, or just an idiot. But whenever I engage in a form of creative expression, I do it mainly to satisfy my criteria of what I would enjoy listening to, reading, eating, or, if I were to make wine, drinking. This seems logical, right? With stories like this one about Adam Tolmach of Ojai, one wonders how many folks in California are truly guided by a sense of personal aesthetics in their winemaking. It is not fair to limit this question to California; however, many people would contend that a whole lot of winemakers in California are guilty of making wines which lack originality and, to not mince words, are boring, sweet, and just plain suck.

The tide here is obviously turning, though. I see it in what most critics write about wines and in what many of my customers enjoy drinking.

I see 1984-1991 in the music business in similar terms as 2000-2007 in the world of wine. There are certainly many interesting albums and wines in both periods. But just as many wines now taste similar and lack inspiration, a whole lot of music was watered down, all featuring the same new genre of synths, and the same heavy handed production. Look at the list of established artists who made terrible albums in the 1980's. At the same time, new genres, most notably hip-hop, were continuing to evolve. If you looked carefully, the beginnings of what would be the new pop rock in the 90s was forming from the underground rock of the '80s. To return back to the vinous side of our discussion, natural wines and grower champagnes have never been more popular.

It will be interesting to see when this particular chapter in wine tastes will close, but it appears to be doing so quickly.

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