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Jun 6, 2010 03:56 PM

Misadventures on the Wine Route

Everything about Gary Vaynerchuk drives me up the wall, so I can't believe I'm posting a link to one of his video clips. The reason why is his guest, Kermit Lynch, who proves as engaging and down-to-earth "in person" as he does in print. Plus he deserves a medal for not throttling Vaynerchuk during the latter's frequent bouts of interrupting, sentence finishing, ingratiation, preening and general obnoxiousness. Thankfully the interview is divided into three 20-minute segments, making it easy to dose your intake of vayniackery. So far, the first episode is the best. I bailed on the second at about 17'. Am saving the third until my ears have recovered from extended exposure to what is surely one of the most grating male voices on the planet.

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  1. Thanks, M. le Jurassien!

    As you said, delightful Mr. Lynch, while GV made me long for an electronic version of that dodging technique oldtimers used to practice at the enlarger to wash away unwanted details.

    So what's the answer to KL's question? Why people think French wines are expensive?

    My take:

    a) The "people" word in KL's question must be qualified.
    E.g., French people don't think French wines are expensive.
    They are certainly aware of categories, but no French person in his/her sane mind would classify French wines as "expensive" all across the board.

    b) Ergo, in my opinion "people" should be enhanced with a qualifier.
    Let's try, as an example: "American".
    Now, why Americans believe French wines are expensive?

    My $0.02: old French marketing techniques that now come back to haunt French products. A little like American Express shooting themselves in the foot with all that "exclusivity" hype, then loosing a huge chunk of market to the commoners' plastic Visa & MC.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RicRios

      Now, I, and American "people," do think that French wines are expensive. However, I am fully aware that it is because of the FR wines that I buy. I know many, far, far less expensive FR wines, but it is the ones that I enjoy most. Were I not the "wine snob," that I am, I'd buy many less expensive examples, and probably enjoy them well. Still, I tend towards an upper level, and do not hate myself for doing so. In the end, it's not about the $, or the ¥ or the £, but about the enjoyment level. At least it is for me. Even when in London, where everything costs 4x as much as almost anywhere else on Earth, I keep the same tastes, and just pretend that those cute little £'s are $'s (though they are getting closer together - figures, as I bought a bunch of £'s, back when the rate was 1:2.8!), and just buy what I want.

      At the same time, I think that CA wines are expensive, but that is because of the wines that I buy and enjoy most. For me, it is all perspective, but I would choose the wines, to many other forms of expenditure. At the same time, I also realize that what is expensive to me, is absolutely nothing to some, and totally hedonistic and extravagant to others. Perspective.


    2. I actually have quite a bit of respect for both Kermit Lynch AND Gary Vaynerchuk................ for completely different reasons. Putting them together is not something I would have recommended and am filled with apprehension at the idea of looking at those episodes. I would imagine that Wine Library sells a lot of KL's wines ????

      In lots of ways Gary could benefit from exposure to Kermit Lynch............ though it might spoil his mojo to have too much. Lynch is a legend. Gary is a love him or hate him kind of guy. They are both VERY successful at what they do.

      Carswell............ I'd love to hear your take on the wine taste episode Gary did in which he tasted dirt.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Midlife

        Go ahead and watch. The contrast between the two men is remarkable. I love KL's grace.
        Some great stories.

        The third episode may be the best. KL uses a lovely word to describe the fruit in his Gigondas: cornucopian.

        Carswell: You're never funnier, and perhaps more descriptive, than when you're ticked off.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          I, too, expected to be once again annoyed by Vaynerchuck, but once past his usual shtick, there are some fascinating exchanges, and the contrast (yes) between him and Lynch is both instructive and memorable--as a marker of where much of the the wine world has come. BTW, his back and forth about the wonderful 07 Les Pallieres Gigondas vs. "a $25 malbec" has sparks of brilliance in conveying the traditional pleasures of layering and complexity. Best thing to do after this is all is to read or re-read one of Lynch's books, and sip one of his lovely Rhones.

          1. re: bob96

            I've read Adventures on the Wine Route. What else has he written that focuses on the EXPERIENCE of specific wines, their taste and aroma; what makes them special, etc. etc..?

            1. re: Midlife

              I was thinking about Inspiring Thirst: Vintage Selections from he Kermit Lynch Wine Brochures, ($40, Ten Speed Press), a collection if his descriptions from 1974-2003. Publishers Weekly said, "These witty writings—sometimes sweet and sometimes dry—are a fitting paean to the author’s lifelong obsession, and the richly photographed tome should be required reading for devotees of nature’s poetry in a bottle."

              1. re: bob96

                Thanks for the nudge. I just signed up to receive his monthly newsletter by e-mail. I can tell from just one that it will give me a good idea of how he sees things. I'm thinking that's better for me than the book of older newsletter excerpts. There are years and years of them in his site's archive if I have time and desire.

      2. >>> Everything about Gary Vaynerchuk drives me up the wall <<<

        You and me, both!

        10 Replies
        1. re: zin1953

          Jason, is that based on his style or on his wine acumen?? I can't help but think you and I are not anywhere within his target demographic.

          I find it hard to argue with a guy who took his Dad's great business and more than doubled it's sales with 'modern' marketing techniques. It in no way excuses inaccuracy or lack of knowledge, but a $60 million/year business is nothing to be sneezed at.

          1. re: Midlife

            Howard Shultz took Starbucks and built it into a worldwide phenomenon, too, but a) I don't have to like Starbucks, and b) I don't have to like him.

            I respect Gary's accomplishments; doesn't mean I have to like him . . .

            Wine SHOULD be de-mystified, should be made understandable to and for the average human being, not solely the "wine geek." It doesn't mean, however, that you have to transform yourself into a raving lunatic or used car salesman from late-night TV in order to do so . . .

            As for the "target demographic," while I agree that we are not who is attempting to reach with his wine tv videos, I am also sure he would love to have people like you and I as his customers. Ain't gonna happen . . .

            1. re: zin1953

              I get it. And I wasn't saying you HAVE to like him. In your carswell quote >>> Everything about Gary Vaynerchuk drives me up the wall <<<, I took "everything" to mean "everything".

              I can only tolerate so much of Vaynerchuk myself, but I really think he's got a handle on a target audience that is very large and maybe has been largely untapped until Gary. You and I would be more likely to browse his inventory and decide for ourselves, than to listen to him anyway. And his pricing is usually pretty good.

              1. re: Midlife

                I just watched all 3 episodes. I did find it very annoying for Gary to change the subject just when Lynch was getting into something I found really interesting but, overall, I thought they were good. You do have to have a taste for Vaynerchuk (as I've said) or they could have been more irritating than they were for me. You also have to understand what he's been doing with these shows for over 4 years and that it's a format that has obviously worked for him.

                All that said............ I REALLY was struck by Lynch's insistence that all the terminology used so much in wine description is pretty much useless. He has made such a huge business based on his name on the back of the bottle meaning "a wine you will like", that all those adjectives can only serve to confuse consumers. They don't really do him any good, if you think about it. As a former wine retailer I tried hard to create that level of trust with my customers, and he seems to have succeeded in doing that.

                I was also struck by his apparent preference for wines that do not go overboard (or underboard, for that matter) in their construction. It certainly made me want to try his selections........ something I think I should have been doing all along. At one point I even wrote down (as if I really had to) something to the effect that wines should be 'pleasant to drink'. Imagine that!!

                I think Lynch may deserve his own topic here, and I may just do that. I'd really like to learn more about what he really likes and how to describe it............ if the adjectives aren't used. Has he written definitively on the subject?? I've read Adventures on the Wine Route and don't recall anything specific.

                1. re: Midlife

                  <<I REALLY was struck by Lynch's insistence that all the terminology used so much in wine description is pretty much useless.>>

                  The reason for that, according to Lynch, is that he doesn't taste that way, that he can't taste those individual flavors. He tastes the wine as a whole, not a bad thing. I have such admiration for Lynch, his choice of wines, his business, his sense of being.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    "<<I REALLY was struck by Lynch's insistence that all the terminology used so much in wine description is pretty much useless.>>

                    The reason for that, according to Lynch, is that he doesn't taste that way, that he can't taste those individual flavors. He tastes the wine as a whole"

                    I knew I like Lynch.

              2. re: zin1953

                I will dutifully watch, as is requested, but I can see on initial contact, that I am not in the target demographic. When one wears a tennis sweatband on their wrist, just to taste wine, I am not likely to be amused.

                As you state, I am reminded of Jack Warden's character in "Used Cars," at the beginning. Or the character of "Wild Bill Watson," a used car legend in New Orleans. When we talked to him about a new ad series, his comment was, "most viewers think that I AM crazy, and hope to take advantage of me. It is the viewer, who will have advantage taken, and I am far richer, than you will ever be. You want me to 'clean up my act?' but I sell more used cars than anyone in the Deep South. Get out of my office with your artistic ideas... " It's tough to argue with a person, who takes his audience as fools, but is wildly successful with that ploy.


                PS - gotta' sit down, with a couple of hours on my hand, and will comment in more detail.

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Bill, As a not-so-bystander to this discussion, I await your comments with interest. It's not really surprising but, the longer I'm around the wine biz, the wider I see the chasm between real aficionados and other levels of people who drink wine. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it is definitely there.

                  Vaynerchuk took his family's $30million wine operation and doubled it's sales, a lot of that in our recent economic maelstrom. I find I don't necessarily have to want someone in my living room to have an appreciation for the savvy that enabled him to do that. I'm a major subscriber to the famous Mencken philosophy that "noone ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people". Gary sure hasn't.

                  1. re: Midlife

                    I had a few pressing business issues, so have not had the opportunity to get back to the OP's link. Hope to do so in the very near future, as I need a mental break.



                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I don't know how much of a break watching Vaynerchuk will be.
                      He can be irritating and enervating.

          2. I posted a question on the Nashville board trying to figure out which restaurant threw out Kermit Lynch. He mentions it in the episode.
            I enjoyed it except for Vaynerchuck's tendency to interupt Lynch and finish his sentences.

            2 Replies
            1. re: SteveTimko

              Gary's style is sand in my underpants. I get why some might find him comfortable and all but doing things like cereal and wine pairings simply make me cringe. I forced myself to watch all three parts....over a couple days and found myself yelling, (more than once) "Dude, shut up, let him finish"....sand in my underpants.

              1. re: bubbles4me

                What's really amusing to me in these videos is the lovely, restrained Kermit Lynch attempting to eke out a story, and Gary interrupting him with "Did you get emotional...Oh, you got emotional." Which strikes me as classic projection, and a reprise of what GV must have been told himself.

                Then, tonight, a bit more insight. I'm a big fan of the TED lectures, and while linking to a few for the headmaster of a school, I came across Gary Vaynerchuk's TED lecture. It's not one of the standard lectures, but one of the off-site lectures from the Web 2.0 Expo. In it, GV talks about his family business and doing "what you love," but his rawness -- on many levels -- is apparent.