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East Coast reviewer slams Washington wines

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Not everyone is apparently enamored of Washington wine.

John Mariani, wine blogger for Bloomberg news, wrote a stinging review of Washington wines in an article carried in the Washington Post April 1.

The problem with Mariani's article is that he seemed to want to review all Washington wines and the state's industry on the basis of trying a few that apparently left him unimpressed.

He criticizes Washington wines as generally being too high in alcohol, over oaked and too intense at the sacrifice of intensity and longevity.

I haven't had the pleasure of tasting most of the expensive Walla Walla wines that Mariani found less than distinctive. But I have tasted far more California wines than Washington wines that might fall into his over-generalized description.

I would agree that many of today's wines are too high in alcohol and over-oaked, but certainly not all and it's definitely not a practice unique to Washington winemakers.

Mariani's piece was not overlooked by at least two of Washington's premier wine writers, Sean Sullivan and Paul Gregutt. Both wrote searing criticisms of the article, noting its factual errors and broad, unpleasant strokes to paint the entire state industry with the same brush.

Mariani did seem to enjoy a few less expensive wines he tried on his short visit to the state, even while making fun of names he thought silly, like Charles Smith's Boom Boom and Kung Fu Girl. Again, this is hardly limited to Washington vintners.

He ends his piece by scolding Washington vintners for thinking that a bigger wine is always a better wine. Thanks so much.

It seems childish and hurtful, based on a few sips, to negatively judge an entire state wine industry that's beginning to make in-roads nationally and internationally for the sake of a splashy column.

Then again, they say all news is good news when it comes to marketing. Hopefully the article will induce East Coast wine drinkers to pick up a couple of bottles of Washington wine and judge for themselves just how good they are.

Here's a link to Mariani's column, followed by a link to Sullivan's response, and then Gregutt's.