The Art of Simplification: An Interview With Andrea Robinson

Vinted on June 23, 2010 binned in interviews

Many, many wine personalities talk about wanting to make wine more accessible and simple for consumers; few deliver in the manner that today’s interview guest, Andrea Robinson, has. She’s practically raised the task of simplifying wine to an art form.

After ditching a 9-to-5 day job (“surely there is a special place in Heaven for the person who lured me off Wall Street (Remi Krug, in fact)” she noted), Andrea became a Master Sommelier and (to put it mildly), never looked back.

Andrea’s list of accomplishments since her days on Wall Street is long and storied enough to turn the most stalwart over-achiever greener than a bottle of Vinho Verde:

She was the first woman ever chosen Best Sommelier in the U.S. by the Sommelier Society of America; she was the first appointed Dean of Wine Studies for COPIA; she was appointed Master Sommelier for Delta Air Lines (overseeing all of the in-flight wine choices for its Business Elite cabin); she received the Wine Literary Award for ‘Exceptional Contribution to the Literature of Wine’ and in one year (2004) was inducted into the James Beard Foundation‘s “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America,” selected as ‘Wine & Spirits Professional of The Year’ by Bon Appetit Magazine, and received the ‘M.F.K. Fisher Award’ by Les Dames d’Escoffier International; No, we’re not done yet – in 2002, the James Beard Foundation named Andrea ‘Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional’.

We’re still not done: I didn’t mention the two TV shows she has hosted, or the fact that she’s written eight books (with her first, Great Wine Made Simple, garnering a James Beard Award nomination).  Normally, you’d be justified in already being sick of her, but in Andrea’s case her engaging personality can soften even the most jaded temperament – an aspect of her successful approach that comes shining through in the interview that follows.

Presumably, Andrea isn’t busy enough, and so has decided to launch a new website, a new line of stemware, a wine DVD / video series, and is making a push behind her on-line brand by running a contest to incent wine lovers to connect with her on twitter and Facebook. She (somehow) found time to answer my questions, in which she provides her thoughts on wine education, Sesame Street sing-alongs, and reveals some of her favorite wines.

Andrea told me “I like dry wine (and sweet, and everything in between), but not dry interviews!” – but as you’ll see below, suffering a dry interview isn’t a likely possibility when she’s involved. In fact, Andrea is not shy in voicing her views on wine education, winemaking styles, and wine critics – all of which you’ll get a glimpse of in our interview.

Enjoy…

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Drinking Nectar on DrinkNectar.com (Pairing Dessert Wine with Interviews)

Vinted on June 22, 2010 binned in wine bloggers conference

Last night I had the pleasure of both drinking some damn good nectar (2004 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance) and doing a Skype video interview with DrinkNectar.com’s Josh Wade.  Josh asked me about the “Advance Wine Blogging” panel at the upcoming 2010 Americas Wine Bloggers Conference.  He also interviews Joe (The Suburban Wino) Herrig about his “Top Gun Wine Blogging” panel at WBC10, which appears on the same post.

As for the wine, I’d link to the mini-review of the Constantia, if it weren’t for twitter going #FAIL Whale on me as I type this.  So, here ‘tis in unimpressive text form:

04 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance (Constantia): S.A.’s legendary Muscat lives up to the legend w/ orange, mango & spices to spare. $50 A-

Anyway, the interview is embedded below but I also recommend heading over to DrinkNectar.com to check out Josh’s posts and videos, if you’re not already a regular reader.

Cheers!

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Vintage of the Decade? (the 2007 Port Rampage)

Vinted on June 21, 2010 binned in wine review

First things first, we need to make it clear that I am not an authority on Port, fortified wines, or spirits.

This has everything to do with lack of tasting experience and nothing whatsoever to do with a lack of affection for those general libation categories.  In fact, I have a sweet-tooth and I never, ever turn away the opportunity to try fortified wines, especially when they have the potential of residual-sugariness.

Which is why I was more than happy to visit the tables pouring such libations at the recent Wine Enthusiast Toast of the Town event in D.C. (that’s the event I covered via video in a recent post that you probably didn’t watch, based on the comments and traffic numbers). 

Which is where I went ga-ga over a 2007 Port.  Which wasn’t the first 2007 vintage Port that I’ve tasted, but it was the best 2007 vintage Port that I’ve tasted. I went so ga-ga over it, that I bought a 6-bottle case of it, and it’s the first wine ever to garner an “A+” rating in my “mini-reviews” – meaning that I felt it was damn-near as perfect as perfect gets.

Based on my (admittedly limited) exposure to 2007 Ports, I’m growing increasingly more convinced that Roy Hersh over at For The Love of Port nailed it when he wrote (back in November):

From all accounts 2007 was something very special. As I mentioned, when visiting the Douro during the harvest in 2007, the energy was palpable and virtually everyone we came in contact with, was glowing and chatting us up about the quality of the grapes. Admittedly, there is always some hype surrounding the vintage time, but in 2007, it just “felt” different… I am still somewhat divided in my opinion of this vintage overall. There is no denying that there were many fantastic, well made vintage Ports in 2007. The upshot is that I found myself writing, “the greatest young ______ Port I have ever tasted” from a number of houses. With 2007, they seemed to raise the bar to a distinctly higher level than ever before. On the other hand, I believe that the percentage of truly great Vintage Ports is less than I would have expected from such an exalted vintage.

In other words, while there may not be as many stellar VPs from 2007 as you’d expect from a hyped vintage, the ones that are stellar are really stellar – like, mind-bogglingly stellar

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