For those of you who’ve missed (what will certainly seem like) the last several thousand posts here on 1WineDude.com, I recently spoke at the 2010 Wines of Portugal International Conference as a panelist on the topic of how the Internet and Social Media are impacting the world of wine and how that will impact the Portuguese wine industry.
Among my fellow panelists was the talented Neal Martin, who writes for eRobertParker.com covering Bordeaux. In some ways, Neal proved the counterbalance to the messages being offered by me and the other panelists, in that he has a rather skeptical approach to the power of social media in the wine world. During the course of the panel, Neal raised several points about social media’s place in the context of wine criticism that I and the other panelists did not address directly – not because we’re without opinion on those points, but because we felt they weren’t relevant to the topic of how wine producers (the largest contingent of our panel audience) could leverage the power of social media online to help their business.
In my case, it certainly did NOT mean that I agreed with those points, as will become clear to anyone in the course of reading this article, in which I will address what I took as the primary (or, if not primary, at least relatively important) points raised or hinted at by Neal about social media’s place in wine criticism – and try to refute them.
I should note that I enjoy Neal’s company, respect his work, and marvel at his writing abilities. But I found many of his views on social media so profoundly off-base that I felt they needed comment. It’s not that Neal sees no value in social media, but I got the impression that his view is looking backward, not forward – and thinking ahead is absolutely key in understanding what social media can do for you, and the place that it is very likely to take in the future in terms of wine criticism.
Let’s take a look at the contrarian views that are all too often espoused when applying social media to wine, and go from there. I’ve grouped them below roughly in a group of three, and summarized each as a hypothetical quite or argument. It’s worth noting that I’m not quoting anyone in particular but am paraphrasing and, while it might be tempting to anoint someone like Neal as a sort of dark arts saint of an anti-social-media satanic church, life is rarely that simple and it’s certainly not my intention here.
In this case, Neal’s comments during our panel were simply the catalyst for a sort of… manifesto that took shape in my (twisted) mind. The kind of thing you’re compelled to write because you have to (and because you’re a bit tired of preaching the same gospel over and over, and would like to have a handy place to keep it so you can refer others to it again… and again… and again…). I will warn you, it’s long and probably not appropriately “scannable” for blog reading, but f–k it I’m posting it anyway.
As always, your comments / criticisms / points / love / hate are all welcome!…
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In the (second to be recorded but third to be released) installment of my podcast thang, I interview Grammy-winning and platinum-album-selling artist Maynard James Keenan – who most will identify as the front man for TOOL, Puscifer and A Perfect Circle, but wine geeks will also know as the founder and fledgling winemaker of Arizona’s Caduceus Cellars.
Maynard’s entry into the wine world was the focus of the film Blood Into Wine, and my personal take is that he’s onto something in AZ – and is not without talent in the winemaking department.
He’s also not without a sense of dedication, and certainly not afraid of learning things the hard way – that’s an aspect of his personality that comes through crystal clear in the course of this interview.
One could certainly be forgiven, after listening to this podcast, for developing the impression that Maynard is pretty (maybe too?) low-key for a rock star front man; but there’s no way you’re going to think his winemaking career is a superficial attempt to slap his name on a vanity project. If you’re a betting person, you’d best bet that Maynard is in the wine biz for the long haul – and while he may be a famous hard-rock icon, he views his early attempts at winemaking as a passionate and humble beginner.
Having said that… he’s at no shortage of strong opinions about how wine should be made!
Cheers, and enjoy!
1WineDude Radio: The Maynard James Keenan Interview
- 08 Apothic Red (CA): Comes on sweet, finishes rough, but the middle is pure cranberry & chocolate, velvety Zin-ish fun. $14 B- #
- 09 Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva White (Douro): Lively, but you need to be into oak & vanilla cream to put this one on your list. $30 B- #
- Ramos Pinto Quinta do Bom Retiro 20 Year Old Tawny (Porto): As complex as you’d imagine when up to 50 diff. vintages are included. $55 A- #
- 07 Ramos Pinto Vintage Port (Porto): Extremely powerful, but seductively complex w/ mint leaf, spices, ripe & dried black fruits… $75 A- #
- 08 Ramos Pinto “Collection” (Douro): When it’s throwing eucalyptus, pepper & dark red fruit at you, U know U R not in Kansas anymore. $23 B+ #
- 07 Quinta de Ventozelo Vintage Port (Porto): Great mouthfeel doesn’t make up for subdued aromas. Weakest 07 VP I’ve come across so far €30 B #
- 09 Quinta de Ventozelo Branco (Douro): Quaffable, citrusy white? Yes. Anything to write home about? Not really. €4 C+ #
- 03 Quinta do Vallado Reserva Red (Douro): Old vines & true field blend that delivers kick-ass, focused, & gripping black fruit power. €25 B+ #
- 09 Quinta do Vallado Reserva White (Douro): Elegant, balanced & lovely combo. of cream, lemon spritz, & herbs. High yumminess factor. €16 B+ #
- 01 Quinta da Cavadinha Vintage Port (Porto): Like a dark, spiced, dried-fruit dessert, only about one billion times more complex. $35 A- #
- 01 Warre’s LBV Port (Porto): Finishes tough but comes on fresh, dark & beautiful when it wants to. She already owns you, buddy! $25 B+ #
- Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port (Porto): Been shakin’ up the entry Port world & with good reason; it’s a total bargain. $20 B #
Here we go again! It’s time for the 1WineDude.com Top Ten Most Interesting Wines of the Year.
As in previous years, the “competition” (such as it is) was fierce, in terms of both the volume of wine I tasted (now over a thousand, I think, based on some very crude estimation on my part) and the overall quality of those wines (many of you will undoubtedly have noticed the plethora of ‘B’ range ratings this year, which I think is no accident considering how many very good wines are being made). Interestingly, the average price tag of the wines in this year’s list is pretty high (above $50), which I believe is a function of the very high quality level across the ‘playing field’ of wine globally, and therefore the essential Je ne sais pas needed for a wine to stand out and emblazon itself in a person’s memory banks (mine included).
And for all of my previous winging on the amount of California releases that made the list of 200+ “finalists” from which I chose the top ten wines, only two CA wines made the final cut.
For those of you who are new to this list and are wondering what the hell I’m on about:
- I put this list together every year. It is NOT intended to be a “best of” of “highest rating” list (though that’s pretty much how the PR folks treat it).
- It is intended to be a list of arbitrarily-chosen wines that stood out, to me, as being particularly interesting for a variety of reasons, not least of which are quality and complexity; the list is ultimately meant not to reward my most highly-rated wines (though many of them did get high marks from me), but to call attention to those wines that I found most compelling in 2010 – wines that gave me goosebumps, or that reminded me why I still love all things vino.
- These are not wines released in 2010 (though I try to favor recent releases so that you have a chance of actually trying the wines in this list), they are wines that I tasted in 2010. Not all the wines I tasted in 2010 qualified – the wines have to be at least somewhat available, which means that some downright legendary items that I had the good fortune of trying this year (but are only available for small fortunes) did not make the cut (wines from the exclusive Premiere Napa Valley tasting, for example, since most of us can’t actually buy those – however, in the case of the wines from Premiere that may change next year as the Napa Valley Vintners are making it easier for consumers to get access to those, though the prices will likely be pretty high).
- Also, the list of finalists included some wines tasted in late December 2009 (since this list is compiled in its final form in mid-December each year).
Analyzing the results is always fun for me, and what really jumps out at me this year is that only two of the wines in the Top Ten are in similar geographical areas (Napa) – the rest span the charted globe, including three distinct areas of France, Portugal, Greece, Northern Italy, the U.S. East Coast (once again representin‘, baby!), and a fairly large spot “down undah.”
As always, there are some surprises in this list and I am quite sure that some of you will think me insane for including / excluding certain releases – that’s part of the fun of this list, and I invite you to react, comment, and have fun with it, and treat it for what it really is: a celebration of wine’s subjectivity.
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