What are friends for? Pimping pinot, apparently

Lettie Teague posted on her blog at WSJ.com that her Fourth included an “explosively good pinot noir.”

One thing she neglected to mention is that her friend and travel partner Scott Manlin is a co-owner of the winery. Teague has featured Manlin in both her Food & Wine columns over the years and recently had a gratuitous mention of him in a WSJ column. So it is odd that in the context of her review, the Journal would not compel her to disclose their friendship and Manlin’s ownership of the winery (of course, not mentioning her friend’s wine in print at all would certainly be another option). Point of irony in this non-disclosure: the pinot in question is called “Nevertell.”

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59 Responses to “What are friends for? Pimping pinot, apparently”

  1. Hi Tyler,

    Thanks for pointing this out. I know many people who would be cautious about upsetting the powers that be so it is much appreciated when you raise such conflicts of interest.

    Cheers, Boyce

  2. I know Scott and do like him for the most part, politics aside. Letty can be a tricky one. She disclosed Scott’s partner and winemaker Morgan Clendenen, why not just add that her friend Scott is also a partner in the venture?
    Sadly, just another embarrasment for the wine writing establishment. Full disclosure is always the safest and smartest course.

  3. Does anyone expect ethical practice from a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch?

  4. Tyler, I echo Bryce’s comment that I really appreciate your vocal commitment to integrity in wine writing.

    And I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but……. Oh how I miss John & Dottie!

  5. I also miss Dottie Gaiter and John Brecher.

  6. This one could have been pretty simple, I think – “Made by my friend Scott Manlin’s winery,…” or similar addition would be enough for me.

  7. I don’t think this is really such a big deal. She’s not telling you to run out and buy this wine right now, she’s just saying she had a great pinot.. if It were me, I would have said ” this pinot was made by my friend x ”

    I often pump up the Pinot Noirs made by my friends here in Oregon, and they do it for their friends.

    The important thing to realize is that none of us are going to say anything about someone’s wine if it’s not good.. we won’t call it bad, we just won’t say anything.

    So if you ever read my sad little neglected blog and read about an “awesome Pinot made by my friend Anne or Vincent, or whoever” you’ll know it’s a good Oregon Pinot Noir and one you should buy ( because I have great taste in Pinot Noir and lots of knowledge in the wine being made by small producers here in Oregon.)

    All the best.

  8. Joe’s right that disclosure would have been pretty easy. Doesn’t have to be a big deal.

    I miss John and Dottie too.

  9. It is a small point (but one that Scott has made in the past) that he is not an owner in “that” part of the winery. His ownership is in a different part…

    IIRC, Jay M. has mentioned Cold Heaven as well

  10. Todd Merkel, it’s one thing for you and (your description) “sad little neglected blog” to give props to a wine of a friend, it’s quite another for a long time Food and Wine Magazine writer to do it while employed by The Wall Street Journal. I have not tried these wines and would like to. I am certain that they are good, but why just not disclose the relationship. Letty has frequently written about Scott and his passion and enjoyment of fine wine. Is it a crime to recommend a friend’s wines? No, is is inappropriate not to disclose you are friends with an individual who is associated with a wine you tout??? This blog obviously answers that question.

  11. In my view, it’s debatable whether a critic should review a wine that a long-time friend has a (relatively new) financial involvement in. If he or she does decide to review/mention the wine, then it’s essential to disclose that that relationship while reviewing it. Transparency always carries the day.

    Mel Hill – I linked to a tweet of Scott Manlin’s from October 14 that shows his involvement. He said, “Cold Heaven Cellars, Morgan Clendenen & I are business partners, we make Viognier, Pinot Noir and a wee bit of cool climate Syrah.” Also, I don’t think that Jay M (Miller?) and Scott Manlin are friends and traveled to the Loire together. (Although that could make a good buddy flick.)

  12. Apparantly, Lettie has updated the blog and admitted her friendship. Better late.

    “Addendum (posted 7/11/11) by Lettie:

    I have known Morgan Clendenden and have been familiar with her Cold Heaven wines for more than ten years. I’ve also been a friend of Scott Manlin, a recent financial partner in the winery. I failed to disclose in the original blog post that I know both Scott and Morgan – and am a fan of both of them- as well as their wine.

  13. Lettie does have a way of reminding you that she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. How she got the WSJ gig is a real mystery, but they hired Jay as well so maybe it’s just them not being so smart, themselves.

  14. When I read the blog post, I was astounded Lettie didn’t mention her friendship with Scott, who is co-owner of the winery. It was all Morgan and no Scott, despite Scott being liberally salted throughout her articles over the years. To me, it reeked of intentional omission; after all, why include his name all over the place except when she reviews a wine he is selling? Glad she (better late than never) fessed up.

  15. Cold Heaven makes excellent wine, from Viognier to Syrah to I’m sure Pinot, though I haven’t tasted the last of those three. But I’m fairly certain the rec is well deserved.

    Still, disclosure is vital. It’s not that the wine is undeserving. Rather part of the reason it has the spotlight is because of a pre-existing relationship. It just needs to be brought up in some way.

  16. Must be a slow news-day…. though I am glad to see the Usual Suspects are here in full force…

    Last I checked, a friendship is not an inherent or apparent conflict of interest demanding absolute disclosure. It is no secret that Lettie and I were introduced by Robert Parker at a lunch that became a Food & Wine column. It is no secret that I became copy fodder in numerous Food & Wine Magazine columns of hers that followed. It is no surprise that a bond was formed that has evolved into a dear friendship. It is also no secret that Lettie has written about Morgan’s wine long before I became involved with her and in fact, their relationship pre-dates mine with both of them. It is also no secret that Lettie sought my views when writing her recent WSJ column about the Chicago wine scene which you refer to as a gratuitous mention (which was more of editing issue). The truth is that in the wine world, everybody knows and associates with everybody else and considers themselves friends. This is true for every serious reviewer, it is inescapable and you making THIS an issue just speaks to your lack of seriousness. What is really a shame is that you cast aspersions on Lettie’s character, and by implication, on Morgan’s wine making ability without having any experience whatsoever with the wine in question. If you think she got it wrong, step up and write your own review. What is even more ridiculous is that you would seriously think that Lettie would risk her integrity and ethical capital by “pimping” a wine??? It seems to me that you are trying to take issue with Lettie and me without thorough investigation of the wine or the relationship and if your goal is to make a name for yourself, I suggest you start by tasting the wine and conducting better due diligence… you cannot possibly be suggesting that every wine reviewer discloses the nature, depth, extent and basis of their relationships with anyone affiliated with a winery whose wine is being reviewed? thanks for the press…

  17. PS

    In the interest of disclosure.

    I am not an owner of Cold Heaven

    I have a financial interest in the wine reviewed and I was involved in its coming to be….

    I think Lettie is awesome, she is a dear friend, and I have nothing but respect for her…

    I think Morgan is a terrific wine maker, fabulous business partner and all around great person…

    there ya have it…

  18. I think it’s great that Scott stands up for his friend, but Lettie isn’t writing for an audience of wine insiders. She’s writing for a much broader audience who doesn’t know who is friends with whom. It’s better to be as transparent as possible, and she did the right thing by updating what she wrote. As a consumer, I’m satisfied.

  19. Christine

    Appreciate the comments…

    Think about it for a second. Do you think Robert Parker has personal relationships with winemakers? Do you think that James Suckling does? Jim Laube? Steve Tanzer? Josh Raynolds? Steve Heimoff? Do they describe the nature of those relationships as preamble to every review they write? Of course not. They are obligated to disclose professional relationships or factors in their relationship that could or might influence their reviews (that is fair and appropriate) but the existence of a friendship forged over the years is not disclosure requirement in and of itself… for Lettie or anyone. I am sure Dr. Vino has a personal relationship of some sort with a number of people affiliated with the wines and wineries he writes about, it is inevitable, but the suggestion that there is something unethical or some failure on Lettie’s part for not disclosing that I am her “friend” (which has different meanings for everyone and is not a term of art)when she chose to write about a wine that she found compelling seems a wee bit onerous of an obligation for her, or anyone in a similar position.


  20. I feel like I’ve seen this movie before.

    The wine may be great. But the issue is the disclosure. This is about ethics, not the wine. Why is this so hard for WSJ journalists, wine critics, and their defenders to understand? Unless they’re deliberately trying to obfuscate and draw attention aware from their crony game…

    But it looks like Lettie added an addendum to the article, proving Dr. Vino right. Whattayaknow.

  21. Scott, ye protest too much.
    If Robert Parker, Steve Tanzer, James Suckling or any of the other serious wine critics that you mentioned above had previosuly acknowledged or mentioned a friendship with an individual who later became a principal of a winery to the extent that Lettie has previously glowing written about you before your business involvement with Morgan, and then wrote about that friend’s initial wine offering without even acknowledging the existing friendship, they would have been criticised more harshly than Lettie has been here.
    Lettie is a wine journalist who writes about wine in life. She has included you in numerous articles that she has written as a person who has introduced her to wines, traveled with her, introduced her to people and gave her ideas about wine.
    Your comments haven’t changed the fact that the long time personal friendship between you and Lettie should have at the minimum been mentioned in Lettie’s initial Blog. The fact that it was later added as I raised in this blog is sufficient; but was clearly tardy and an acknowledgment of the recognition of her initial lack of disclosure. There is nothing onerous in a journalist being transparent with the public.

  22. Mr. Manlin has not been sullied by this, Ms. Teague has. As such, Mr. Manlin’s comments, while revealing, aren’t as relevant. The fact that Ms. Teague chose to issue an addendum tells all.

    Mr. Manlin–your Robert Parkeresque style (with the “…” and “usual characters” comment) (which is funny because most are pseudonyms) isn’t convincing.

    Ms. Teague drops your name in every other column then “forgets” in the glowing review piece. Can’t really get around that, and her addendum acknowledges this fact.

  23. Scott

    I think you went way overboard here.

    The issue is disclosure, and as was pointed out above by Christine, it is not about wine insiders.

    Lettie is great. I am sure this was just an oversight. Nevertheless, it needed to be addressed, and I am glad that Lettie did just that. Do not point the finger at Tyler, here, who did nothing wrong, but shed some light on a situation.

    I am 10 years in this business, and I amd tired of hearing that “everyone already knew that.”

    I deal with wine consumers all day and everyday. 99.9% are not on the inside track of things. 99.9% did not know that Lettie and you were friendly, and an even higher percentage did not know that you had a financial stake in this wine. The wine could be 100+ points, but disclosure is still necessary, whether you are Lettie Teague or Robert Parker or Dr Vino.

  24. Did Dottie and John do things like this?

  25. Dan

    Your defense of Tyler is misplaced. Re-read his post; from the title to word choice, it is pure snark. I get the arguments in request of disclosure (so does Lettie, and no one really cares, which is why it was put up), but with respect to Tyler you are confusing the real reason with the good reason. I do not believe, as do MANY others, that friendships are in and of themselves a conflict, apparent or otherwise. It is a fair debate. But this was about Tyler being a snark and trying to take another shot at another wine person with a national platform. If he really was concerned about creating transparency he would have approached it much differently.

    You can certainly disagree about what constitutes a conflict and as I said, that can be a fair debate, but Tyler had different motive, and your defense of it is disappointing.

    Just another senseless attack on responsible people.

  26. “The truth is that in the wine world, everybody knows and associates with everybody else and considers themselves friends. This is true for every serious reviewer, it is inescapable”

    John & Dottie somehow escaped it, and if they weren’t “serious” reviewers then I give up.

    “you cannot possibly be suggesting that every wine reviewer discloses the nature, depth, extent and basis of their relationships with anyone affiliated with a winery whose wine is being reviewed?”

    Or a reviewer could just avoid those relationships on principle? Here is an excerpt from J&D’s semi-annual reminder of their principles…. “The Journal pays for all of our wine [reviewed in these pages], which we buy from retail shelves at stores all over the U.S. We attend only events that are open to the public. … we try to retain our anonymity.”

  27. Aaron

    I think you miss the nature of what Lettie does and are a bit confused. She is not a wine reviewer in the sense of Parker, Tanzer, Burghound, etc… she writes for the Life & Style and Off-Duty sections of the Wall Street Journal. Her columns are decidedly about the story and the personality as they are about any specific wines. Her blog is about strikes her wine-wise and on a particular day, she was struck by a particular bottle. But she doesn’t assign scores, she just relates her experienced view of the wines and people she encounters. I am sure you are capable of seeing the difference between what and how Lettie and Jay write and the column that J&D had for years? it is a comparison of apples and oranges.

  28. I guess what I’m actually upset at, then, is the WSJ itself, for removing the delicious apples I had come to love eating every weekend and replacing them with oranges that I don’t particularly have a taste for.

  29. Aaron… that is completely fair. On the other hand, I had no taste for the apples and vastly prefer the oranges. If I want apples, there are numerous palates who align much more favorably to my own. I had no use for the apples. I can totally appreciate a different view on that…


  30. I think John & Dottie’s column would be a great fit for Highlights For Children.

  31. You guys really have a lot of free time on your hands to debate and discuss this kind of stuff.

    Ultimately as a wine consumer, I use these types of articles as entertainment and sometimes they motivate me to try a new wine. So if someone gets me ( and other readers ) to try a new bottle, that’s great. In order to get me ( and them ) to buy a case or more, the wine has to be good. No amount of ‘buddy’ recommendations will get me to buy a case or more if I don’t like it. I’d also like to think that the rest of my wine drinking peers also feel similarly.

    So you wine industry people can discuss/debate the “ethics” of disclosure ad nauseum… but you could be spending your time doing something that would really benefit us, The Drinking Public.

    Have a great day.

  32. I think Dr. Vino, and those taking the hard line against Lettie are picking flies out of roadkill. As a wine consumer and “outsider”, I am naive to the relationships that exist in the wine industry. Do I care? Not really, if I love the wine being made available to me to consume. Lettie’s piece was informational but more textural than instructive. Actually, I wonder what the motive must have been to blow the proverbial whistle in a case like this.

    This post, from its inception, seems like it is driven by professional jealousy. After all, there was no issue taken with the author’s view of the wine, nor did Dr. Vino focus on his view of the same wine to show Lettie’s opinion of the wine to be flawed.

    By the way, I feel the need to expose the fact that Scott Manlin and I buy meat from the same butcher.

  33. Scot Manlin you look like a jackass with your defense, and you are doing Lettie Teague no favors.

  34. IVV

    Thank you for your thoughtful, well reasoned and structured comments.

    I might point out that your position might have a little more weight if:

    1) you did not hide behind a moniker
    2) did not rely soley on ad hominen
    3) did not avoid, entirely, any of the positions made for or against
    4) had a notion of what Lettie might consider a favor in this regard

    Other than that, thank you for your thoughtful insight, clearly you spent some considerable time thinking about it.


  35. Scott,

    I think it fairly simple: She should have noted her connection. She did, albeit after publishing. Done. If you have issue, and you clearly do, with Tyler’s commentary, then comment directly on the style. And you did. But bringing the message forth is not by itself a bad thing. As has been noted above, the general public doesn’t know about all the relationships between reviewers/writers/producers, etc. Nor should they. A simple, “my friend…” would have been enough.

    I look forward to tasting that wine, FWIW.


  36. As a wine professional writing about the domestic scene I agree that it is nearly impossible to take what would amount to an antisocial, detached posture when around wine, especially where I do it, in Napa Valley. In the twenty years + I have been involved in this arena I have developed hundreds of professional friendships with people based on mutual respect. We have warm, genuine relationships and some in fact become close personal friends but not to the point of Lettie and Scott (which is certainly their business).

    I maintain that respect by not allowing personal to shade into professional, these people know I may taste their wine and love it or not. It doesn’t affect our relationship one bit. To Teague’s credit, she clarified the relationship (after also being called out on the WSJ site) however I seriously doubt if people with a nose for investigation like Tyler hadn’t brought this up it would have remained as is.

    The problem it causes is if the writer won’t disclose these types of details in the beginning, it is potentially embarrassing to their publication when they are forced to post a mea culpa. Of course if I had read a disclosure that stated, “This wine was made by a friend, Morgan Clendenen, who is business partners with one of my best friends, Scott Manlin (whose name appears with mine in nearly 300 Google searches) and I think it is amazing” I would already have the impression not to take the review seriously. The unfortunate thing is the wine may be fantastic but has been stigmatized by this episode.

    Furthermore, on a somewhat tangential note – if someone told me that a wine is called Nevertell because they couldn’t disclose the source of a wine beyond a cult grower, or some other such nonsense, I would usually ask them if they had anything else to taste or otherwise end the appointment. My interest level drops to zero when this little game is played.

    Manlin’s fearless defense of Teague is admirable but ultimately it is the responsibility of the writer (she apparently won’t raise to address the rabble) to step up and address discrepancies especially when working for a revered institution like the WSJ (and more importantly keep them happening again!). John and Dottie were unassailable in this regard. They used to shop at a store I worked at and I was putting together a wine dinner in Manhattan and invited them to attend. Dottie replied that they would only attend if they paid their own way. Maybe Lettie thinks she has discharged that task already by posting on her site. However I am still waiting for her to comment on: http://blogs.wsj.com/wine/2011/06/24/how-to-succeed-in-the-wine-business-and-how-not-to/, which is probably one of the most pointless, factually incorrect pieces many of us have ever seen.

    9th grade English? How could she have put her name on this? How does the fact checker still have a job? are the comments that came from one of my editor friends. (Do I need to disclose who they are, Tyler?) I think any other writer would gat a WTF from their editor, but the sad thing is I found out about this article because it was at the top of an industry newswire. I suggested maybe her laptop was stolen…

    The core of the article is a reach to begin with somehow equating very rich people succeeding simply because they make wine where they were born or moved to from New Mexico, but ends in a flimsy segue to an attack on Patricia Kluge and her recent misfortunes. I can’t help thinking this all started when the two of them showing up at the same charity ball in the same Chanel gown and one dismissive pout from Pat has had Lettie plotting revenge ever since. I guess I need to disclose I have had several private meals with Patricia Kluge and spent the night at Albemarle as guests of she and her husband, politely consuming the ’70 Mouton. It was all about business. Yes, I saw the quarter million dollars of Yquem in the pantry alcove and my wife broke the nose off a statue, which the butler immediately glued back on; it was papier-mâché.

    I see pimping of product all the time, like when the manager of a store starts dating somebody who is a supplier of items that manager buys. For someone who can connect the dots, it just jumps out. For everyone else it wouldn’t matter. For another example, just this evening I was downloading some music on iTunes and came across an artist who is a “friend” of mine on FB (we have never met, but I demo’d one song and it was OK), this person’s spouse is their manager. Guess who gave the first (and only) glowing iTunes recommendation as if they were just an average fan?

    Lettie Teague has shown that she can be a witty teller of stories that engage and entertain her readers. I used to browse F&W at the market just to read her articles about napa which were always liberally sprinkled with references to her favorites. The fact she has won top awards for writing in the past should give us hope the summer of laziness will end soon,

  37. Kudos to Tyler and commenters alike here. The proof of the pudding here is that Lettie updated the original review. I don’t hold Tyler’s semantics against him here; he presented facts with a bit of typical 21st-century journalistic flair. 98% of the wine world with neither know nor care about this small kerfuffle, but it is absolutely important for the 2% who swim frequently in the wine-media lake.

    Disclosure is simply and always the key. At the same time, I do understand Scott Manlin’s point about personal relationships being almost unavoidable in the wine biz. Wine writing ethics will always have a degree of gray area and flexbility, depending on the “terroir” of a given situation (When does an acquaintance become a friend? Should writers disclose free sample bottles, or just junkets… and what about dinners?)

    One angle not brought up in the comment thread is the degree to which many critics use “blind” tasting as a Teflon-coated ethical shield. Mainstream reviewers get to hunker behind that shield of “All wines were tasted blind using professional/industry standards” when in reality, there are many ways for favoritism to be doled out.

    I have a feeling Lettie is going to be more conscious going forward. I think she and others who taste with their eyes wide open are ultimately much better resources of guidance than the holier-than-thou blind tasters.

  38. Wow Doug…quite a lovely attack on Lettie. First Dr. Vino with her ethics, now you with her writing ability. Perhaps you are just confusing blog entries with published columns/works? As you note, she has won numerous writing awards and has managed to make a long career of writing, a rare feat indeed, but clearly one that invites attack from others less fortunate. Unfortunate for sure. That said, everyone is entitled to their views.

    One thing of further note, with respect to Nevertell, it has nothing to do with “cultish” vineyards or anything of that sort. While Nevertell is a single-vineyard, single AVA, single clone wine, not all of our pinot are and will be. It is our belief, that the “vineyard” story is in an of itself incomplete and that the particular clone, within particular vineyard sites are more important in crafting the style(s) of wine we endeavor to make as well as tells a better story. It is our belief that the vineyard is not the basis for which we want our wines judged and viewed and we have little interest in promoting the brand name of our vineyard sources (which, beyond the core sources, may change from vintage to vintage). Our Sta. Rita Hills fruit is expensive, but hardly “cultish.” As a writer, I am sure you can appreciate the importance of words. No one suggests we “couldn’t” reveal our vineyard sources, we have said we “wouldn’t” and have required our growers not to discuss our contracts with them. We just want to talk about the wine in the bottle, the AVA(s) and the variousclones, not the vineyards per se… hardly a game.


  39. Good writing can accommodate conflict disclosure and also provide more information about tastings. For example, CellarTracker reviewers often say what they were doing when they had a particular wine (From a recent review of the ’06 Nicholas Cole Camille (RIP): “Drank this one from the bottle on the subway”).

    Granted, CellarTracker reviewers tend to be dedicated wine-drinking amateurs rather than professionals, but I think there’s storytelling that can be done that would include information about how and under what circumstances the wine was tasted (blind/non-blind, with/without food, formal tasting, visit to producer, friend’s dinner party), who paid for the wine and if there’s any relationship you should disclose.

    Wine columnists tend to do more of the kind of narrative that lends itself to that than reviewers, but there’s no reason it can’t be adapted to a shorthand format:

    Dark red fruit flavors with amusing notes of ugli and old gym socks. More than a little funk, so hold nose. Less alcohol than usual for Napa at 22.5%. Tasted non-blind. The distributor, who I call Mom, provided. Rating: 99.

  40. I am riveted by this conversation. For the sake of full disclosure Scott and I share the same last name but have never met. On 2 or 3 occassions we’ve exchanged messages on FB but that’s been the extent of our communication the past 45 years of my life. I do not know the parties involved nor do I have any “axe to grind” with anybody in the industry. To that point, I agree with Scott that no ethical nor otherwise legal issues were violated without the WSJ writer disclosing her relationship to the parties involved in the winery. I don’t think most would disagree that personal relationships and endorsements are the way of the world and often imperative to succeed. Would have the writer been better served by disclosing her relationship? Absolutely. The conversations in this blog attest to that fact. My problem is the tone of the initial comments by Dr. Vino. When you say “pimping” you asking for people to react and your bringing the issue to a level that’s clearly a snipe. If (as the writer) you believe the “situation” to be unsavory then take a higher road and make your point without being such a putz. Just a thought.

  41. Mark; couldn’t have followed up my previous comments better. Dr. Vino’s inflammatory lead was offensive because it crossed the line from pointing out a mistake to implicating nefarious intent.

  42. Mr. Manlin, can you honestly say, that Ms. Teague’s article is the first time there has been some issue with the disclosure of your proprietary interest, relationship, or position in a winery?

    I am under the impression, that this is not the first time this type of issue has arisen?

    Recently, on wineberserkers.com, “the macho pedantic thread”, Mr. Manlin was asked to identify himself to members of the wine community, as being ITB (in the wine business)and he refused.

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

  43. Jerod

    As you will note if you bother to read the berserker thread, I thought the disclosure unnecessary and the purpose of the request was other than the disclosure (which I have no real objection to), similarly, the topic at hand here is not whether or not Lettie should have mentioned my “interest”, my issue was and is with the tenor and tone of the original comments. The disclosure irrelevant, the need for it unnecessarily, the providing of it, nonetheless, harmless. Just as I objected to the shit stirring intent in the beserker thread, I object to the snark and insult levied here. The disclosure that I have a financial interest and involvement with a winery and have a friendship with a wine writer are nothing that I care to hide or don’t disclose. The internet, including this blog site, is filled with references to my status, partnership, and relationship with both the winery and Lettie. So clearly, that is not issue with which take umbrage here or over there…

  44. Scott,

    Your comments on the tone are certainly valid. But your comment “The disclosure irrelevant” is something with which I take issue. If it were so irrelevant, why’d Ms. Teague post the addendum? I’m glad she did. It isn’t irrelevant.

    It seems to fall under my “grandmother test.” If I explained it to my grandmother, would she think there an issue? Yep. She would.


  45. Tim

    Perhaps I am not being clear. I have no issue with the disclosure. In reality, it was a complete oversight on Lettie’s part and the addendum was an easy fix. I am saying the disclosure itself is irrelevant and the lack of it is not a defacto nefarious thing as the tone and tenor of Tyler’s comments would suggest. I was surprised that she didn’t mention my involvement, not for disclosure reasons, but because Nevertell (and Makepeace) are every bit my vision and effort as they are Morgan’s. What I mean by irrelevant is this; the disclosure would have cost nothing, done nothing, not disclosing, equally harmless. In other words, much ado about nothing. My objection is, and remains, Tyler’s inappropriate tone and commentary.

  46. Okay. Noted. Can I find your wine in Paris? 🙂


  47. Only if I bring some with me on my annual trip to burgundy… 🙂

  48. Stop by Paris. I’ll buy you a glass of wine.


  49. Scott Manlin-

    It’s interesting that–several days later–you “have no issue with the disclosure” and that it was an “oversight”. That’s certainly not what you said on the 11th when you first responded to the blog post and comments. If that is in fact true, you could have said so from the outset, and probably would have saved yourself and Lettie much of the criticism.

  50. Scott

    Go back and re-read what I wrote. I have never had an issue with the disclosure itself, it is harmless, but I do have an issue with those who suggest it is an obligation, which it is not, as no conflict exists. My issue is and was that the lack of disclosure was defined as some unscrupulous act. It is not, it was not.

    Completely consistent statements then as they are now. My comments were in response to the criticism, they pre-existed, so your suggestion makes little sense from a chronology standpoint.

    “I believe it was an oversight”… “I believe it is an unnecessary disclosure” and “I believe the disclosure is harmless” are not inconsistent thoughts..

    best of luck to you…

  51. I didn’t say they were inconsistent. The tone of your original post was clearly to make the point that you thought the disclosure was unnecessary…I get that.

    You stated that in the wine biz, “everybody knows and associates with everybody else”. That may be true, but look at it from the point of view of someone outside the business: After reading your comments, a simplistic view could be taken that says wow, since they all know each other, nothing in the wine business is objective. I don’t think that was your objective, but it’s unfortunate for the consumer, as they don’t know what end is up.

    My point is this: Lettie may very well have written what she did solely on the merits of the wine…but the more forcefully you argue that the disclosure is unnecessary, the more people think you have something to hide.

  52. Scott

    That may very well be the reality of it, however unfortunate that may be.

    By way of background, my interest in wine, which has gone on for about 30 years now has always been from the consumer/collector side. All of my interactions with Lettie were from the perspective of consumer. My vocation was always commercial real estate finance, but my avocation has always been food and wine. It was my avocation that connected Lettie and me.

    In 2009, in partnership with Morgan Clendenen, I set out to make a wee bit of wine (350 cases Pinot Noir) from CA. Being an unabashed burgheads, our goal was to craft a style of wine, that while still very much California, would have the structural characteristics that make burgundy so appealing to our respective palates. That wee bit of wine became Makepeace and Nevertell. So, pleased with the results, we made more under this partnership in 2010. That wine remains in barrel. While I do help Morgan with the operations of the winery and specifically some sales and marketing related activities, I have no economic interest in Cold Heaven Cellars and I receive no compensation from the winery.

    Perhaps that clarifies for you why I think the whole disclosure thing is much ado about nothing… as for having something to hide, in vino veritas, or in this case, the truth is in the bottle. Track down some of our wine, if you think Lettie got it wrong, let me know and I will refund your money personally.

  53. I appreciate the response…I will track down some of the wine and check it out.

  54. Hardly an attack, Scott. Have you actually read Lettie’s blog post i referenced? And since when has any writer said that a blog post should be any less accurate than a column, or article? To come out and say so essentially diminishes the accomplishments and aspiration of hundreds of very talented, albeit, unfortunate writers who blog. Ironically, I am one of several dozen of those who has actually paid to hear Lettie speak about writing, thinking we would actually learn what it is to be a professional writer. Her apparent indifference to standards of proof-reading, fact-checking and objectivity in the referenced article are difficult to ignore.

    The way the article, I mean blog post, ended seems to turn what many probably enjoyed as a celebrity lifestyle piece in the first half into a less than gentle conclusion about a woman whose reach has exceeded her grasp (at least for now).. I am disappointed in the post for several reasons, beginning with at least two factual inaccuracies (Kluge was born in Iraq, not Iran, and the name of one of the best known wine consultants in the world is Michel Rolland). Sure, most readers by now were into the vicarious tabloid thrill of reading about nude, Iranian billionaire divorcee hitting the skids .

    As I’m apparently one of the ‘unfortunates’ in your regard. I nevertheless do expect a writer especially one of such acumen and integrity as Ms. Teague to do their best to get the facts right before they publish, correct (or at least respond) when a reader points out possible issues with an article/column/blog and because you work at what most of the world considers to be the peak of journalistic excellence show the rest of us how to do it

    As I should have pointed out, Scott, I have no issue with you in this, it is Lettie’s place to address. Incidentally, the disclosure tally for agreeing with Tyler is something like 31 – 10 as far as comments and eight of the ten ‘dissents” are yours. You may be a very passionate person when it comes to wine and that’s great but your insistence on continuing to protest even after Teague has admitted the lapse is puzzling . I imagine she would just as soon have it go away.

  55. Live by the chat boards, die by the chat boards.

    Karma is a bitch ehh Scott?

  56. Ah can’t be even bothered but the quality of the food and wine section is urm… well not there? So who cares and yes it is a Murdoch thing. Lets just have the NYT and leave it at that.

  57. In Vino Veritas

    Not sure I follow you. That said, I am willing to stand behind all of my opinions, that is why I use my real name.

    If you have something to say, please do…

  58. I tasted at the tasting room in Buellton earlier in the week.

    Here are my Wine 101 notes on a few of bottles:

    09 Nevertell. This is sweeter and darker than the Makepeace. The fruit didn’t hit you over the head. Color was mid-weight pinot noir.

    09 Makepiece had a yum nose that was intoxicating. I tasted a little fruit. I thought this was a Central Coast style pinot noir

    09 Cold Heaven Viognier Sanford & Benedict. Nice nose. Mild fruit coming through. More elegant than the 09 Le Bon Climate.

    Disclaimer… I’ve always enjoyed reading LT’s columns. I’ve never met Scott, but know of him from Wineberserkers.

  59. […] dell’articolo ‘incriminato’, il 5 luglio, compare una bella stilettata di Tyler Colman su DrVino. Poche righe ed un titolo al vetriolo per ricordare che la signora Teague si è dimenticata di […]


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