Good points above, and I welcome and appreciate the well-stated arguments, but I have some counter-arguments as well.
Originally posted by GregT:
I don't know Stickman - Lurton?? He was hired to manage an estate and did so. But isn't that what he was paid for? How does that make him a significant figure in the wine business any more than any other successful manager? Same with Frescobaldi.
Granted, neither one introduced some new innovation that set the wine world on its ear, but to merely say that they simply did what they were paid to do doesn't recognize that both took already wildly successful houses and made them even more successful. I don't believe it's that easy. If you compare the buzz about Yquem in the '90s to what it is now, the difference is remarkable. Ornellaia and Luce could have gone down with the demise of the Mondavi empire; instead, Luce has grown to include a BdM estate with some early success, and Ornellaia may have just produced their greatest wine ever (2006). Think it's easy? Compare that to... well, the Mondavi empire.
Mondavi's achievements pre-dated this decade, as did the others in #5. All worthies, but their reputations are based on prior achievements.
Granted on all counts. I merely wanted to acknowledge their passing and to recognize the wine world's loss.
Gary V came out of nowwhere really. He was a regular retailer who is now a world-wide phenom. I've met people all over the world who know him.
Fame and influence are not the same. Anna Nicole Smith was widely famous when she died, but would anyone call her the "Model of the Decade," or any other title that could be granted to her. [more below]
You don't have to love the schtick to respect what he's done - he's the first credible critic outside of print for starters.
Okay. I'm not sold, but I get your point.
Is there any other critic on TV, radio, or anywhere who has his reach? He pushed WL into e-commerce faster and farther than any other retailer, he revolutionized wine selling in the US, and he's replaced, or symbolizes the replacement of, print critics.
Alright, this is where I have to call 'BS.' Replaced WS, Parker, or Steve Tanzer? Really? Is anyone out there really saying, "Well, Parker only gave this 91 points, but Gary V really liked it, so I'll buy a case of this $200 Burgundy"? Do you think winemakers are changing their techniques based on whether they think they'll get a positive review on Wine Library TV? Or even, "I used to subscribe to the International Wine Cellar, but now I've got Wine Library TV, so I cancelled my subscription"?
When the guy goes on TV with Conan O'Brien and does a schtick where he talks about training your palate by eating a cigar or sticking a dirty sock in your mouth, do you really think people are thinking, "Now here's a critic I can place my trust in"? He's definitely a 'wine personality,' and many people find him entertaining, but if this is the face of wine in the past decade, I say it's not much more than a parody.
Eric Levine has also done that to a large extent. People go to their cellars, check CT for current drinking reports, and select a wine based on that. It's something that was never possible before he created CT.
Granted. This, however, seems more like "Technology Person of the Decade," rather than someone who epitomizes wine for the decade. Its an effective, widely-used tool, but it hasn't changed anything intrinsic to wine itself.
Rhone Rangers are close to my heart because I like those wines, but I don't think they were all that important to the wine industry in Italy or Greece. They grow grenache in CA. That's nice, but how does it get them recognition as some of the most important people of the decade?
Is there any example around the world where one region can have a dominant effect world-wide? Probably not. That being said, CA is a major region in the wine world, and the fact that planting of Rhone varietals has so drastically increased in the past decade is more than just 'nice.' If a new producer in the Maremma (just about the only other place in the world where new plantings can rival new Rhones in CA) had emerged with the success of Sine Qua Non, I'd nominate them too. Since no one has, I'd say the Rhone Rangers' influence on the CA wine industry (and Manfred Krankl's influence on the Rhone Rangers) gets my nod as the most influential.
Originally posted by vinole:
Stickman - Your #1 criteria was "influence", which I agree with. By that criteria, Paul Giamatti's character (not the man himself) has had MUCH more influence on the wine market in the US this decade than your top pick, Manfred Krankl... how many now pick up a bottle of pinot noir at the grocery store instead of merlot as it is now perceived as a much "cooler" wine? Thank Sideways for that whether you like it or not.
If you're citing the character of Miles Raymond, nominate Miles, or better yet author Rex Pickett, not an actor. Did anyone nominate Sylvester Stallone for the "Boxer of the 1970s" for his creation of Rocky
Think about it, how many typical US wine consumers have even HEARD of SQN, much less tried it (as many on this board have not, including me).
Whether you've actually tasted SQN or not, Krankl and his wines have had a strong effect on other producers, critics, and the popularity of Rhone varietals in general. 'Think that the fact that there's a Syrah in the Cult henhouse isn't significant? Like Cambie (or Michel Rolland), his influence on the wine world doesn't begin and end with his at large fame.
For my part, I have no problem with Eric Levine inviting me (as a CT user) to vote for him. He's certainly as deserving as the others on the list, and a little self-promotion is not a crime in lists like this, IMHO.
In the end, this poll may show that no one has (or even perhaps can
have) such a dominant role in a world as complex and individualized as 'the wine world' to warrant being called "Wine Person of the Year." I can accept that. I just can't accept the person that most epitomizes wine
isn't a person at all but a fictitious character in a movie or an internet critic who (I believe) isn't as influential as at least three other periodicals.