Technically, this is actually Episode Three of my podcasts, but they’re running out of order. Because I feel like it.
Anyway, my strong suspicion is that today’s interview with James Suckling (formerly, of course, from Wine Spectator) is going to generate a lot of discussion. Like Robert Parker, Suckling is a bit of a polarizing figure in the wine world, mostly because for decades he represented concepts that wine geeks have come to either love or loathe: the assignment of numerical scores to assess a wine’s quality, handed down by either experts with exceptional palates honed by years of tastings, or by ivory-tower-dwelling egomaniacs, depending on your point of view of wine scores.
James braved intermittent cellphone coverage, technical Skype difficulties, and (most dangerously) L.A. traffic to be the next victim interview guest on “1WineDude Radio.”
In our interview, James talks about his new website (which launched last Monday, but will be referenced as still being in the future as we recorded the interview on December 3rd), his view on wine scores (and why he thinks they’re still important), why he left Wine Spectator, how he expects to make a living out on his own in the wine world; he also has some surprising things to say about wine blogs.
No doubt there will be many of you who will think I either wasn’t respectful enough or wasn’t hard-edged enough in this interview (likely depending on your points of view of wine scores). I think what you will find, if you keep an open mind, is that James shows a side of himself in this interview that isn’t evident in his Wine Spectator writings or his film appearances. As always, my interview approach is centrist; it’s meant to have the person voice their views themselves, in the most human and direct way possible; we can of course explore, debate, and discuss our reactions in the comments – which (as always), I encourage you to do!
1WineDude Radio: The James Suckling Interview
Greetings from Porto, where I’m a guest of the Wines of Portugal international Conference 2010 speaking later today on the topic of the importance of the Internet in the promotion and future of Portuguese wines.
I’m quite happy to be here, and staying at what must be on the world’s most gorgeous hotels (The Yeatman – see inset slightly-blurry-low-light-morning-panoramic pics of the view from my room’s balcony) – which I’ll argue was at least somewhat deserved after the 24+ hour travel day I experienced to get here, in which a 90-minute-connection in Frankfurt turned into a near seven-hour-endurance-test-layover (apparently Germany – a northerly country that experiences frigid Winters – was unprepared for snow… in December…). But the views (as you can see) are making up for it!
Highlights so far, aside from the mere act of successfully arriving, include meeting Jancis Robinson and watching her tweet during dinner, catching up with old friends, and sampling a bevy of the now-legendary 1994 vintage Ports, three of which were awarded 100-point scores from Wine Spectator (I know… but when a heavy-hitting pub awards heavy-hitting scores, it does merit some attention) – the real focus of the “legends” of this post’s title and one in which I found myself surprisingly in the minority…
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Ok, so I probably need to explain the (relatively) recent twitter update by VisitPortugal.com involving an interview with me focusing on my take on Portuguese wines.
Below is the tweet in question, which takes you to the Facebook Notes page of We Love Portuguese Wines. [ Warning: The Portugal promotion connections get a lot more complicated from here, so if you’re already as confused reading this as I was typing it, you might just want to pour yourself a glass of tasty vino and stop reading now. ]
The most interesting aspect of this interview (for me) was that I didn’t know it was an interview. I therefore had no idea that it would be published; my answers were part of an on-going conversation with Vini Portugal regarding my participation in the upcoming 2010 Wines of Portugal International Conference in Oporto this December. For those of you who are counting, this brings the number of seemingly-related Portuguese-promoting on-line properties to (at least) four.
I don’t mind at all that the questions I answered for Vini Portugal were used by VisitPortugal.com on the Facebook property We Love Portuguese Wines to help promote the WoPIC. Or, I don’t think I’d mind if I could keep track of all of this.
I need a beer!…
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