Posts Filed Under best of

What We Learned From The Fulvio Bressan Debacle

Vinted on August 27, 2013 binned in best of, commentary, wine news

Friuli winemaker Fulvio Bressan’s racially-charged political comments about Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first African-Italian government minister (you can read the translation if you’re up for it, but fair warning: it will most likely disgust you) just caused a large crap-storm in the wine world.

In my view, only an idiot (it takes a lot of stupid to hate based on race, people) would not find Bressan’s original statement offensive.

In the comments section of Jeremy Parzen’s excellent Do Bianchi blog,  there is a follow up from Bressan offering an unapologetic rant in defense of his original (indefensible) statement. I have a touchy spot (ok, a huge, ugly, flaming, red-hot-molten-lava spot) for this type of racially-motivated hate talk, particularly when people of African descent are the targets, as I have a niece and a nephew who are beautiful, intelligent, well-rounded, gentle, and amazing young people, who also happen to be black.

So having this kind of thing happen within the wine world hit a little too close to home for me, and I responded to Bressan directly on Do Bianchi:


Nothing in any of your unapologetic, post-facto rants justifies the fact that you could easily have made your politically-motivated comment without a single one of the racially-charged epithets you decided to include (presumably for emphasis but clearly without regard to what reasonable people would find offensive or hurtful). The right thing to do – the ballsy, mature, adult thing to do – would be to issue a formal apology immediately.

I, of course, have not been the only one to ask Bressan to apologize (far from it). To my great surprise, Bressan actually did so… sort of…

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Blinding You With Wine Evaluation Science! (VineSleuth Data Shows That Expert Wine Tasters Are Actually Consistent)

Vinted on August 15, 2013 binned in best of, commentary, wine news

Piling onto so-called expert wine evaluators has become all the rage lately. Remember when the California State Fair commercial wine competition judges got steamrolled (again) by data showing that blind tasting medals are awarded in a random distribution?

So expert wine evaluation is all just donkey-bong bunk, right?

Not so fast, Jerky.

According to data collected over the last several months by VineSleuth, it turns out that when we live by the wine evaluation data sword, we also die by the wine data evaluation sword. VineSleuth’s data shows that expert wine evaluators “are able to repeat their observations on individual wine samples about 90% of the time” when tasting wines blind.

Now, where I come from, 90% is a sh*t-ton better performance than can be explained by random chance. It suggests that the blind wine evaluation game isn’t so clearly flawed as some might make it out to be.

And before you start manically flailing away at your keyboards typing me flaming e-mails about how the experts chosen for VineSleuth’s analysis must not actually be experts, or that their (patent-pending and proprietary) methodology is somehow flawed, you should know that they ran it with the help of sensory scientists and numerical algorithms researchers/experts, and that they stocked their tasting panels with folks who make their livings tasting wine: winemakers, oenologists, sommeliers, writers… and little ol’ me.

And pretty soon, you’ll be able to test out my work for yourself…

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The Fast Track To Wine Authority That Nobody’s Taking

Vinted on June 11, 2013 binned in best of, wine blogging

While I was in Portugal in May judging at the 2013 Wines of Portugal Challenge, I met a well-spoken and well-studied former Luftwaffe pilot named Axel Probst, who now provides one-on-one Port consultations (seriously, there’s a business for this in Europe, apparently).

Axel looks every inch like an air force pilot: well-mannered, calm, fit, nice hair, strong chin – the works (see pic in the list of judges from the competition). Like me, at forty-ish he’s semi-retired into the wine biz. I took to referring to him Axel as Herr Port (get it…? Mr. Port… Airport… former pilot… okay, you know what, go screw yourself!).

The reason I’m mentioning Herr Port today: in getting to know Axel and talking about his odd landing (ha!… sorry…) into the wine biz during my recent week in Portugal, is due to a realization on my part. Axel’s story is similar to many of those who have made up the list of finalists in the Best Single Subject Subject Wine Blog category of the wine blog awards through the last few years (though none of them are former Luftwaffe pilots, as far as I’m aware). It was the radiation that what all those just-mentioned souls have in common is actually the key thing when it comes to building authority on the topic of wine from the ground up. And it amazes me that so few people who say that they are interested in turning their self-published forays into wine coverage into something more serious are doing it.

These things are, for sure, more marathon (insert awesome `80s prog rock soundtrack here) than sprint, but if I were starting up in the wine world online tomorrow, and wanted to build an authoritative brand in as short amount of time as possible, here’s exactly how I’d go about it…

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