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Born In The USA (My American Wine Scene Wine Picks For Italy’s Civilta del bere Magazine)

Vinted on October 16, 2014 binned in going pro, wine publications

I’m not sure that we need any more proof that I am an idiot workaholic, but last week a wine magazine hit the newsstands in Italy with yet more evidence in support of that.

During a (very) busy late Spring, I was contacted by my friend and co-judge in the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards, the Milan-born Alessandro Torcoli, who is the managing director of Civilta del bere. The pages of Cdb (loosely translated as “Culture of drink”) have been gracing the hands of wine and food lovers in Italy since 1974.

Alessandro wanted to know if I’d pen a feature for Cdb on the wine scene in America. “Which wine scene in America?” was my initial response, to which he more-or-less replied “all of them.” Capturing the trends and current happenings of all of the most important wine regions in the U.S. just seemed a challenge too cool to turn down, so I said yes. A crap-ton of work then ensued (I am over 40 now, so the chances that I will someday learn not to accept these workloads is probably approaching zero).

The finished article is now available (in Italian, of course, thanks to Alessandro’s translation), and it looks great (hopefully the text lives up to the presentation!). What was probably the most difficult part of the assignment was coming up with a list of thirty wines that I thought served as both an introduction to American wine, and as a faithful representation of American wine trends overall.

That part was… well, “ridiculously hard” seems somewhat appropriate. For sh*ts and giggles, I’m presenting the final list of those selected wines below. It’s certainly California/Pacific NW-heavy, but when you consider the fact that those regions account for well over 90% of all of the wine produced in the U.S., any other approach would’ve been totally disingenuous to the spirit of the article. I am quite sure that I will piss off no small number of the wine world with these selections, and most criticism that I failed to include wine/region/trend such-and-such will no doubt have some justifications. Against my better judgment, I have included short blurbs on why I choose the wines that I did.

As always, I welcome your flaming comments!

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Well, That Was Easy. Not. (“The Once And Future Of Crete” In August 2014 SOMM Journal)

Vinted on August 12, 2014 binned in going pro, wine publications

My feature on the wines of the Greek isle of Crete is now available in the August 2014 issue of SOMM Journal.

That twenty-two word sentence belies what has to be one of the longest paths to seeing something published that I’ve ever had to walk.

Not that the folks at SOMM Journal / Tasting Panel were difficult to deal with; far from it (they have been a pleasure to work with, actually). And I loved getting to know the folks from Crete (and I was doubly-lucky in that I got to work with them this year in helping them present their wines and discuss their island’s native varieties at stops in both NYC and D.C.). It was everything that happened in-between and en route to working with those folks that required this article to be resurrected, phoenix-like.

Let’s just say this was not a quick route to publication, and I learned a valuable lesson in tenacity by pursuing this one. I was prepared to indulge myself in a litany recounting of the simple 4,422-step process constituting the in-between and en route, but I’ll spare you (you’re welcome).

The Cliff Notes version: I was originally “on assignment” with the Crete article for Sommelier Journal, after agreeing the concept with the then head honcho of the mag, during the 2012 Drink Local Wine conference (held that year in Colorado). Except about a year later, that that mag suddenly folded. Happily, Tasting Panel mag took it over, re-branded it as SOMM Journal, and was interested in the story…

Alright, so I lied about sparing you the litany.

Anyway, my Cretan sojourn bore additional tasty content fruit, by way of an interview with one of the island’s next-generation wine family members, and some thoughts for the Answers.com gig on three Cretan producers who are doing cool stuff.

The new SOMM Journal issue is worth checking out just for the map of Crete that Tasting Panel deputy editor Jonathan Cristaldi put together to include with my piece (see inset pic, which I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing, because it’s oozing with awesome).

Cheers!

The Heat Is… ON! (Publix Summer Grape 2014)

Vinted on May 20, 2014 binned in going pro, wine publications

The Heat is…ON! (cue the cheesy sax line!)

I know it’s still technically Spring, but if I’ve got my preschool memories sorted out correctly (hey, a lot of brain cells have been killed off by alcohol at this point), for the Northern Hemisphere that means Summer ought to be coming forthwith. And forth-with it, the Summer edition of Publix Grape Magazine, in which I’ve again penned the In Focus section (among some other things).

This time around, the subject is the effect of heat on grape ripening, and what that means for the resulting juice in the finished wine bottle (for those new to this gig, I’ve been penning In Focus for Publix’s wine pub for a several quarters, and have developed a sort of niche in which I take potentially complex wine topics like oak, yeasts, sugar, etc., and try to distill them into learnings digestible by non-wine-geeky people).

To help me, I asked for an assist by the simultaneously geeky-talented-cool Napa Valley winemaker Janet Meyers, who heads up the production at both Franciscan and Mt. Veeder wineries (see this now-ancient video interview with Janet to get a feel for her awesomeness).

So… go subscribe already so that you can read it! What you’ll learn, in a nutshell, is that the Summertime is a hell of a lot more chill-axing for you than it is for winemakers and ripening grape clusters…

Cheers!

Anyone Else Notice That Bay Area Wine & Food Trendsetting Is Up For Grabs?

Vinted on February 4, 2014 binned in about 1winedude blog, commentary, wine publications

I was recently (ok, more like a month ago) Quick-Sipped (Supped?) by Jessica Yadegaran, in a profile/interview that ran online and in bay Area papers such as The San Jose Mercury News. It (very) briefly tells my wine backstory, and gave me an opportunity to implore people to drink more Vermentino (with fish tacos). So I didn’t squander the opportunity, Vermentines!

Interestingly, Mercury’s parent company, Media News Group, is expanding its food and wine scene coverage, at a time when most others are contracting theirs. MNG seems to be making a play for what will almost certainly be a media gap in the San Francisco region: trendsetting the wine and food scene, now that the #1 seed, the SF Chronicle, is planning to radially change its food and beverage coverage.

I’m not sure how else to take the comments from SF Chron managing editor Audrey Cooper, in her response to the NY Times breaking the news late last year on the SF Chron’s planned Wine/Food section shakeup:

“We are undergoing a newspaperwide section-by-section review with the idea that we need to reimagine sections to more intuitive cultural topics that are more aligned with how Northern Californians think and live.”

My translation: we’re not going to spend the money and effort to set regional dining and wine trends anymore, because it’s not working out; we’re going to react to the trends already being set by others, instead.

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