TN: 2021 WIlliam Kelley Gevrey Chambertin Aux Etelois

I was having lunch a couple weeks ago with Thatcher of Thatcherswine.

He was sorting through his wine bag and pulled out a bottle of wine (I forget what) and said "Do you want me to open this? or… and with a wry smile pulls out a bottle that’s simply labeled “Gevrey Chambertin, Aux Etelois”

Even with the complete lack of producer info on the label, I knew what it was. I’ve been following what @William_Kelley has been doing with his new winery and very curious of the application of all he’s learned/studied/loved to an actual finished wine.

And here we have the first appearance of the William Kelley wines in the United States and the very first bottle opened state side. A negotiant wine from the Gevrey. 600 bottles produced. a Parcel that touches Griotte Chambertin of Fourrier/Roty.

But you know what the ol saying, “Those who can’t do, teach” - so I kept my expectations low and ready to see if I had a juicy post to get the Instagram world riled up with controversy.


The wine was delicious. Decanted on the spot - consumed roughly a hour later and slowly through the rest of a leisurely lunch. I was surprised by the elegance coming out of this Gevrey. It’s an insane spice box that exudes from the glass to your nose. Loads of freshly cut rose petals, sweet cherry and that spice infused stem. Aromatically so perfumed and generous.

The palate was filled with elegant chalky red berried fruit, even with as elegant as it was, there’s enough weight on the material that you feel the saturation and mouthfeel persist on the wine. The acidity is in check to give that seamless cool fruit profile on the finish with that sweet tannin and stem dances along the fruit to give it a lively complexity.

Really terrific wine. Can’t wait to see what the future holds on these and the other wines in the lineup.


Good to hear, Charlie.

A man of good taste would be expected to make a wine that tastes good.

I’m happy that William has been able to follow his passion and actually make a wine of which he can be proud.

I may be broken record and hopeless curmudgeon …

I don’t like the idea of a critic writing about a topic he has a business interest in …

When I served as executive editor at The Hollywood Reporter, our critics and journalists were forbidden to write about any person or company or sector that they had a financial stake in or personal relationship with.

I’m not suggesting some nefarious intent on William’s part, but the potential conflict of interest nags a bit.

Much bigger things to worry about, but just sharing my thoughts. Most will disagree … and that’s cool.


What I really want to know is what William Kelley scored it.


I kind of view it as a net positive in both directions - working as a critic no doubt informs his winemaking, and vice versa. As long as he’s not rating his own wines, or wines in which he has an interest, I don’t see the conflict.


I get it. When you’re making wines you’re disincentivized to say a vintage is crappy. Not in any way insinuating anything other than complete objectivity from William or that on balance William shouldn’t do both - I’m personally super happy to try his wine and read his writing - but the conflict isn’t that hard to see.


I would like to answer Matthew King’s question in a less direct way. Not least because I’ll have to disclose immense bias given what a joy it was for me to travel & see William in person.

My answer: We need more beautiful art in this world

By way of Hollywood-Reporter analogy, my favorite film this year is Past Lives which I found beautiful, heart-breaking, subtle, intense, authentic, and charismatically captivating all at the same time. Whether or not groups of literary critics, or website owners, or whomever invested in that film to help Celine Song make such a beautiful work of art? I’m all for it.

There is always a conversation about ‘the pure way.’ Chariots of Fire, one of my very favorite films as a boy, gives plenty of time for all the critics who think it ‘poor form’ for an ambitious sprinter to hire a professional sprinting coach. The determination to run faster vs the pure natural. I love that duality. That both men win made me so happy. Still does, both men ran in their own dynamic, beautiful ways.

William has more passion for agronomy than any other ‘wine critic/reviewer’ I have read. In person, I found that passion even more authentic & revelatory than in our writings back and forth.

There are a million forces of negativity which prevent films, books, poetry from being properly financed, and, yes, better wines from being made. When something is made & made well? The very last thing we need are bureaucratic inquiries as to conflict clearances. It’s hard to make beauty.


It does seem like a very tricky issue to navigate. Should a critic review wines from the same vineyard that he or she makes wines from? Perhaps it doesn’t matter if the vineyard is Les Charmes, but if you give high scores to a less famous vineyard that you are also making wine from, it could meaningfully move the price of wines from that vineyard. Similarly, do you score wines from growers you purchase grapes from? I could see a perception that growers might be more likely to sell you grapes if you give their wines high scores.

None of which is to say that someone can’t make it work, but it seems tricky to navigate, particularly in a region like Burgundy where prices of newly desirable wines can dramatically increase with favorable coverage.


Do you score wines higher when you like the proprietor or he lets you buy wine out the cellar door or he’s married to your second cousin? I mean there’s 100 different reasons that humans aren’t entirely unbiased no matter what is the reason.


No dispute from me! There are plenty of tricky issues to navigate when you are a very influential reviewer of luxury products that sell for thousands of dollars. Presumably many wine journalists would take the position that you shouldn’t review wines owned by a member of your family and it would be unprofessional to receive wines directly from a producer at a much discounted price if you regularly review that producers’ wines. But surely there is plenty of gray area there and others may disagree.

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If you go by those rules, every critic/writer would be immediately disqualified, lol.


Hi Matt,
Interesting topic. I agree there is potential for conflict of interest. I’m not sure the best way for @William_Kelley to address it, or even if he needs to address it all. I lean that he should address by disclosure. His TWA bio states, “His firsthand experience making wine informs the way he writes about it.” Perhaps he might expand that a bit to state that he makes wine in Burgundy. That way, subscribers can decide whether or not to follow his Burgundy notes and suggestions.

In my opinion, it benefits no one for Kelley to stop reviewing Burgundy.


interesting take, haven’t thought of this one. Probably the most potential for conflict there, at that point you just gotta trust the integrity of the critic.


Didn’t Parker have an interest in Beaux Freres Winery in Oregon? I can’t recall how he navigated that in terms of disclosure.


Of all the reasons critics have conflicts of interest, making your own wine is pretty low on the list IMO.


damn, I’m jealous. Would love to taste that wine.


William has a great reputation by all accounts, which will surely serve him well as he navigates these issues. My guess is that if his wine project remains relatively small it won’t be an issue. If it grows in size and visibility then it might be trickier. More power to him though – hard to blame someone for wanting to make wine in Burgundy if they can make it work.


Sorry, I didn’t mean to derail the intent of Charlie’s original post.

I would like to focus on the merits of the wine at hand, now that I’ve said my piece.

And rembeber, Jean Luc Godard, the greatest post WWII filmmaker in France, got his start reviewing movies.

Maybe William is fated to do bigger things. :kissing_heart:


Orrrrrrrr … just maaaaaaybe … we could stop :raised_hand: placing So. Much. Weight. on a single person’s opinion. That would go a long way towards solving some of these problems…


Didn’t Parker have an interest in Beaux Freres Winery in Oregon? I can’t recall how he navigated that in terms of disclosure.

He just didn’t review the wines. Therefore, no conflict.


if more restaurant critics actually knew how to cook or worked in restaurants, we’d have better restaurant reviews.

i’m all for this. i think the fact that he’s directly involved with making the wine as opposed to merely having a business interest, is what’s most salient.