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Are We In The Golden Age Of Wine Writing? (Hint: Not Even Close!)

Vinted on October 26, 2011 binned in book reviews, commentary, going pro

In part of his coverage/promotion of wine blogger Alder Yarrow’s new gig as part of Team Jancis over at JancisRobinson.com, wine blogger Tom Wark rightly points out that it’s almost paradoxically at once significant and also a natural, balladromic bit of evolution to have an established wine personality tap into the blog-o-world when seeking to add more wine writing talent to their publications.

Tom also claimed that “we are living in the Golden Age of Wine Writing and the Golden Age of Wine Writing Talent.”

I read those words during the same period of time that I was making way through a review copy of long-time wine scribe Gerald Asher’s new collection of writings, A Vineyard In My Glass (not literally at the same exact time, of course, I’m not Thomas Jefferson, so I’m not reading eight books simultaneously while also dictating correspondences and cataloging in detail how many of my goats died from frost exposure last Winter while slaking my thirst with Scuppernong , or whatever), and I can tell you that just about every page of Asher’s collection screams out (in a polite, congenial British scream, of course) that Tom is way off base in his claim.  I say this with mad respect for Tom, of course, but…

Sorry, bro. We are not even close to being in a golden age of wine writing talent – unless you extend that Age’s starting point back far enough to include the writings of Asher and Hugh Johnson; because in terms of plying the craft of writing and applying the focused, dedicated talent of it to the world of wine, those two writers have NO modern equal.

If you’re reading this and you haven’t sampled the writings of those two stalwarts, then you need to do so with all speed. If you’re reading this and you fancy yourself a wine writer, I’m willing to bet a case of DRC that you couldn’t go toe-to-toe in terms of writing skills with either one of those gentlemen, even on your best day…

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Art Vs. Artifice In The Search For Natural Wine

Vinted on August 22, 2011 binned in book reviews, wine books

“That’s just… man, that’s just… NOT right!”

The above quote is from a friend of mine, in reaction to learning that some of his favorite wines – and, in fact, probably most wines – are made with grapes purchased from growers. As in, grapes that did not come from a patch of land directly behind a winery building on a farm somewhere, tended with care by the winemaker’s own hands.

Imagine how he would have felt if he’d seen the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s list of “Materials authorized for the treatment of wine and juice.”  While it’s not quite as bad as the list of additives that are used to “enhance” our processed foodstuffs, it certainly feels a lot more “McDonald’s” than “Old MacDonald.”

As consumers, lacking evidence to the alternative we have a tendency to assume (naively) that what we consume is fundamentally natural, or that a “natural” product is somehow a superior one.  This premise – that the natural is always the better – serves as a driving force behind award-winning wine journalist Alice Feiring’s new book, Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally ($10 eBook, or about $15 in print – I received an advanced review copy).

Feiring is a self-proclaimed polarizing figure in the wine world, and if her intention with Naked Wine was to solidify her controversial status, she could hardly have chosen a better cement than the topic of “natural wine”…

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1WineDude TV Episode 36: Not Quite Dead (Why Most Wine Books Don’t Match With eReaders… Yet!)

Vinted on July 12, 2011 binned in 1WineDude TV, book reviews

In this Episode of 1WineDude TV, we’re talking about why wine books are Exhibit A evidence in the case against printed books being dead. Also mentioned is a cool book about hands that’s (mostly) unrelated to wine but that you might want to check out anyway.  Don’t worry, it will all makes sense after you watch.  Maybe.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Cheers!

Can A Wine Critic’s Opinion Really Be Trusted? (Dissecting the Pontifications of Bettane & Desseauve’s Guide to the Wines of France)

Vinted on June 13, 2011 binned in book reviews, commentary

Too much of a good thing, can, in fact, be had, especially when you’re talking about wine books; the sight alone of which used to bring me great pleasure but now fills me with a OMG-I’ve-got-term-paper-due-soon type of dread because I’ve not so much as glance at most of them let alone reviewed them.

First off, wine books tend to be weighty – as in, literally weighty, heavy, and requiring a lot of storage space. In the case of my current stock of wine book samples, they are taking up an increasingly alarming percentage of my office floor space, as they sit in grim admonition of my incapability to keep up even a modest a review schedule… MOCKING ME WITH THEIR SILENCE!!!

Anyway… I’ve been making a (half-hearted but) concerted effort to chip away at the wine book sample library that has now grown out of my floor space, and so picked up the nearest to my desk chair, which happened to be Bettane and Desseauve’s Guide to the Wines of France By Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve (about $25 at Amazon.com).

Michel Bettane, France’s most recognizable wine critic, is (I’d argue, anyway) prone to pontification (something I noted when hearing him speak last year in Cahors). He lives up to that  reputation in this new guide – which in-and-of-itself is a capable, handy abd well-researched reference on a wide swath of French wine.  It’s in the guide’s Frequently Asked Questions section that the pontification is on display, when the authors directly address the question, “Can a wine critic’s opinion really be trusted?”

In this case, Bettane and Desseauve’s Guide to the Wines of France is not just weighty in heft, but also in tone; and the answer it offers to that potentially deep query is alternatively defensive, poignant, and downright… odd

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