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Feb 19, 2014 03:40 PM

Huet refuses to let two wine bloggers taste their wine

This is making the rounds on other wine discussion boards. THought I'd post it here.

Huet refused to let two wine critics taste their wine after the critics wrote unfavorably about them.
Here's the guy who runs

This is another reviewer.

Huet hasn't given their side of the dispute yet. I hope it's not as nasty as it seems. I recognize that a winemaker has the right to refuse to let anyone taste their wine, including wine bloggers. But it seems to be intended to have a chilling affect on free speech.

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  1. In defense of Chris, he wrote VERY fairly about the 2012s, and explained -- quite reasonably, I thought -- why he found them wanting.

    To be banned and preventer from trying the 2013s is f*****g ridiculous!

    1. There is no free speech (or press) issue here. They may write and publish what they please.

      11 Replies
      1. re: GH1618

        Not sure his they can write about what they can't taste. I don't see where they have a right to wine for tasting, so this is likely to grow into a social media storm about fairness. Can't see how Gruet could win a public PR fight.

        1. re: Midlife

          I do believe you meat Huet, and not Gruet. ;^)

          1. re: zin1953

            Ya think? I did 'meat' Huet. ;o[]

        2. re: GH1618

          Not when they are prohibited from tasting . . .

          1. re: zin1953

            They can buy a bottle at retail if they like. There is no right to taste somebody's product for free. Trying to make this a "rights" issue is just plain silly.

            1. re: GH1618

              I never said it's a "rights" issue; more importantly, neither did Chris Kissack, who I have known for quite some time.

              If you read his comments on the subject -- -- NOWHERE did he claim any sort of "right" to be at this tasting, nor did he assert any special privilege.

              This is very similar to the furor, albeit in a smaller way (but I suspect larger than you might think), that arose when Parker has been "banned" from certain tastings for comments he has made about someone's wines in a previous vintage. Parker never asserted he had a "right" to taste, either, but he was a damned sight more p***** off than Chris -- at least publicly!

              The only person who seems to be making it a "rights" issue is you; not even the OP asserted there were any "rights" involved, other than to say, "I recognize that a winemaker has the right to refuse to let anyone taste their wine, including wine bloggers. But it seems to be intended to have a chilling affect on free speech."

              I would echo that, but only add that it wasn't the winemaker (which Steve used, I'm sure, in the broadest sense possible, i.e.: the winery itself) who banned Chris, but rather Sarah Hwang, the current president of Huet and daughter of the current owner, following the sale of the estate by the Huet family.

              FWIW, the longtime winemaker, Noel Pinguet, quit shortly after the sale over disputes with Ms. Hwang, too. (

              1. re: zin1953

                You implied it. You wrote "not when," contradicting my assertion that there is no restriction on free speech (a "right") here, hence no "chilling effect." That's a term people like to use when there is no actual infringement of rights to try to stir up some sympathy anyway.

                The whole thing is a tempest in a teapot (or carafe).

                1. re: GH1618

                  Never read between the lines . . . try taking someone's words at face value. What someone thinks is implied rarely is what the writer meant. That said . . .

                  Clearly Chris Kissack is prevented from doing what YOU said -- he may NOT write, nor may he publish, what he pleases . . . "not when [he is] prohibited from tasting" the very wines he would like to write about.

                  Of course he may buy them @ retail, once they are released. Knowing Chris, he probably will (that is, I can't see him never drinking another bottle of Huet out of spite). By then, however, it will be rather late for his tasting notes to be of use to others wondering whether or not to buy the Huet 2013s.

                  Again, Sarah Hwang -- in her role as president of Huet -- is free to let anyone "taste" or "not taste" the wines within the Huet Pavilion at the Salon des Vins de Loire. Sarah Hwang -- as an individual -- certainly has the right to make an idiot out of herself, at the Salon . . . or anywhere else she chooses.

                  I have no doubt Christ will continue writing, just he has done for many years.

                  If anything has been accomplished by Ms. Hwang's actions, it's *probably* been to draw more attention to Chris' blog and gain him more readership.

              2. re: GH1618

                Addendum: I do not know, nor have I ever previously read, the second "banned blogger," but a) he never asserted any "right" to taste, nor any "right" of the press; and b) he has stated that he will indeed be buying bottles of the 2013s from Huet to review them -- which, it seems, might make you and Melanie happy/happier.

                In the FWIW Dept., the Salon des Vins de Loire -- -- is an annual event open to the public and press alike.

                1. re: GH1618

                  I agree that they can buy Huet and write notes to their delights. What might be hurting them financially is that other wine critics will get to taste the wines first and write reports first. People may have already made their buying decisions by the time the censored writers get around to tasting and publishing their notes. So there's a financial penalty for having access cut off.
                  The other part is that they don't get the benefit of the winemaker's expertise if they are cut off from access to the estate.
                  On the flip side, wine writers may be forced to be cheerleaders if they allow themselves to be beholden to winemakers for access to their wines.

                  1. re: SteveTimko

                    So, in an attempt to bring this back to the OP's point, it seems there's a question as to whether there's a 'right' to access without which financial harm is caused? I could make a logical or moral argument for that, but I doubt there's a legal argument there.

            2. This seems like really bad PR to me. Thanks to them keeping that guy out of a trade tasting, I now have the impression that Huet's new owners are only in it for the money.