Why Antonio Galloni matters now more than ever

Antonio Galloni (left; image via Corriere.it) has been on my mind the last few days.

In part because I turn to his writing repeatedly for his observations on vintage characteristics and site typicity. In part because his extreme and truly supreme knowledge of Italian wine inspire me. In part because the genuine and unmitigated exhilaration of his Twitter feed reminds me every day why I love what he does and what I do for a living. And in part because the Citizen Kane of wine blogging took a very cheap — and despicably hypocritical — shot at Antonio this week.

Unmentionable wine blogger — who will remain nameless here lest we drive more traffic to his petty hissing — accused Antonio of conflict of interest in an upcoming tasting he’s leading. My feeling is that even if there were a conflict of interest (and there is not), who cares and who could possibly be hurt by a vertical tasting of Solaia (even though I personally don’t care for the brand)?

In a recent where-are-the-snows-of-yesteryear post on his blog, self-described “old fart” wine writer (and all-around jolly fellow whom I enjoy and respect immensely) Tom Maresca bemoans the current generation of wine writers, winemakers, and wine sellers (cfr. the ballade des dames des temps jadis).

“There are no more Luigi Veronellis or Giorgio Grais,” he writes (ignoring the fact that there is still a very healthy Giorgio Grai), “no Edoardo Valentinos, and all too soon there will be no more Franco Biondi-Santis. Pioneers like Renato Ratti and Giacomo Bologna are long gone, as are retailers as passionate and devoted as the still-lamented Lou Iacucci – that is now a rare breed indeed.”

I can’t fault Tom for his Jeremiad: as north Americans have discovered fine wine over the last three decades, the wine business has become big business and the larger-than-life, “greatest generation,” selfless figures that he refers to are being replaced by the Zonins, Antinoris, and Lucio Mastroberardinos of this new and brave world.

And that’s why Antonio Galloni matters more than ever.

A Berklee-educated jazz musician, a Milan-trained tenor, a successful finance executive, and — in my view — the leading expert on Italian wine today, Antonio is a true renaissance man for a new chapter in the history of wine connoisseurship. (Few remember, btw, that Voltaire made his fortune in finance before turning to philosophy.)

The culture of wine writing has shifted dramatically in the last ten years and I believe that Antonio’s model of superbly informed writing balanced by his business acumen (expressed through the many high-end consumer tastings that he leads throughout the country every year) represents the new generation of Anglophone vinography.

When House and Garden closed wine writer Jay McInerney’s legendary $75K expense account in 2007, the move represented the end of an era. At the time, there were scores of wine writers making a living purely by writing and not “monetizing” their intellectual property. Today, you can count their number on one hand.

Even our good friend Alice Feiring has begun to monetize her career following the example of Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker, Jr. (and I highly recommend her soon-to-be-published Natural wine newsletter and Kickstarter campaign to you; I’m a subscriber).

Just like the world needs Alice, so the world needs Antonio. And I thank goodness for both of them. Let’s not blame them for monetizing their intellectual property. Let’s praise them for following a brave new path in a brave new world…

15 Responses to Why Antonio Galloni matters now more than ever

  1. Alder Yarrow says:

    Jeremy, nicely post. Speaking of monetization, when are you going to pay me the licensing fee for your use of the trademarked term, Vinography? I accept credit cards and ACH transfers.

  2. I don’t even drink wine and I have never read a wine review, but I admire you defending Mr Galloni; and very eloquently I might add! …Hey…I’ll start drinkin’ if I can get a 75K gig!…………..LOL!

  3. Yes we need those few that still understand wine- not those that have gone corporate,follow the “dark side” or want “dry wine” with 11% residual sugar and chocolate wine.

  4. Billy Mann says:

    Jeremy, great post. Antonio is one of the handful of wine writers I regularly read — right after I finish reading 2B!

  5. Eric Lecours says:

    There was a neat little video of Galloni and Parker tasting a Manni Nossing Kerner together where Galloni rated it 93 and Parker 89. That was encouraging.

  6. Tom Wark says:

    Jeremy,
    I love the way your writing expresses a critical eye, and analytical mind and marked passion. It’s very fresh.

    I agree with you that Mr. Galloni’s attendance at the Solaia is in no way a conflict of interest. However, I don’t think that the “Blogger that shall not be named”—as you put it—was necessarily out of bounds in broaching the subject. We live in an age where there is, I think, a more critical eye pointed at the media and how it does its job—from the wine to the business to the political media. It’s merely a matter of addressing claims, as you and others have done.

    As for you, Jeremy….please write more.

  7. Pedro Dias says:

    I believe I tracked down the Doctor in question, and, not being well acquainted with either of you, I find myself unsure what exactly, possible personal dislike aside, might underpin your own post. I like Galloni, mind you, but even at this early date I worry that the broadening of focus imposed on him by the Parkerverse realignment might eventually dilute was is now a rich, heady brew.

    As to what’s so troubling about the Solaia event and others like it, I’ll direct your attention to a different corner of the wine-loving Universe: to the man, the legend-in-his-own-mind, the galloping cataclysm of evaporating credibility, that is J***s S******g – another reviewer I once respected.

    • Giorgos Hadjistylianou says:

      Bingo…….. However I don’t think at the moment Antonio Galloni is anywhere closed to J***s S******g. Although is yet to be seen.

      I read some Galoni, not interested in the 1, 10, 20, or 100 point system and he went to places & producers that his predecessors didn’t. And he has much more finesse & openness

      • Pedro Dias says:

        In fact, I’m not really concerned that he might become another JS. But that debacle, in and of itself, is sufficient cause for concern over critics “monetizing” their professional personae. Add to that the various problems the Advocate has had over similar issues, mostly with Jay Miller, and I just find the indignation above hard to fathom – this *is* an issue, like it or not, and whether or not we personally like Galloni is largely immaterial.

  8. Antonio C. says:

    In my opinion a professional like Antonio Galloni is very rare in our industry. Too much magazines (and blogs too) are influenced by interests or ideologies, I found Galloni ratings balanced and affordable

  9. Just read the post you were referring to. Classic tall-poppy syndrome. If you can’t be as good as Antonio, the next best thing is to question is integrity, etc. I couldn’t care if Galloni was paid $10k to do the event, I trust his reviews, trust his opinion and trust him to be honest in scoring the wines.
    If he get’s paid for these sort of events, good on him. He is entitled to generate income off his hard work.

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