“Who cares what wine bloggers have to say, after all?”
That question has been posed (with full negative connotation) by at least two established wine personalities as recently as a few months ago – one the most influential wine critic in the world, the other a long-standing wine writer and editor.
Well, I have a answer for them. Rather, I should say that the established media has answered their question for me.
The question should probably be amended now to read:
“Who cares what wine bloggers have to say? Aside from two of the most preeminent newspapers in the United States, I mean? Oh… wait a second… Uhmm…”
Last week, wine bloggers were quoted in both the NY Times and the L.A. Times. In the case of the NY Times, two wine bloggers were quoted, actually, in a story about a wine video blogger that was written by someone who likes to think of himself as a blogger (but to be fair is paid by NY Times so some would argue it’s not a ‘true’ blog).
I think that my feelings were summed up best by the character Sydney Fife in the comedy I Love You, Man when he cheered on his best friend at a fencing match, heckling the opponent with the timeless phrase: “Suck it, Gil!!!”
Before I get too gleeful here, I should note that I understand that our place in the wine world, as bloggers, is still small. I’m not too big for my britches just yet. But… the tide is indeed turning, and the flood is indeed coming. Detractors, no matter how well-established, can no longer tell us that the flood is not coming, because the first wave has trickled onto their floor and even their socks are soaking wet…
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Remember Internet chat rooms? Sure you do – those were the simple, on-line places where you could converse, via written text-based messages, with other seemingly like-minded folks about an endless array of topics, ranging from politics to puppy grooming. Well, converse until the person on the other end asked “Are you a chick? are you hot?”
Back in those days, I had two buddies who would frequent on-line chat rooms dedicated to topics about Wars, and strike up a group conversation. Once they thought that they’d earned the trust of the folks chatting on-line, they would say something deliberately inflammatory like “all of the Star Wars books suck!” and start a short-lived but vicious flame-war, during which they would often change sides to try to confuse the poor people who jumped into the fray. It was kind of like an all-out Star Wars chat room ballroom brawl.
Ah, the heady, youthful and poignantly ignorant days of the Internet!
Forums came next, but aren’t real-time, and in the on-line wine world the forums most closely associated with print media (eRobertParker.com and Winespectator.com) have been marred by the negative perceptions of hostility on the part of both members and moderators.
In these more recent days, the chat room and the on-line forum have been superseded. We have seen the future of on-line wine chat, and it’s full of wine twits like me.
There is a place where wineries, media, bloggers, and wine lovers are congregating to chat about wine on-line, and it’s called twitter. And if you love wine, you need to be part of this virtual community.
I’m not going to ‘explain’ twitter here. Mostly because it’s very difficult to explain twitter, and I’m lazy. Instead, I’m just going to try to convince you that if you’re not yet part of the wine community on twitter, then you need to be.
Fortunately for me, that’s actually pretty easy, because it pretty much boils down to one only reason (and even I can explain that one!)…
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Let’s get this straight right off the bat: the amount of ass that is being kicked right now by Twitter Taste Live is borderline-staggering. having been involved with TTL since its humble beginnings, it’s sometimes hard for me to conceive that TTL is barely over a year old, and it’s become the de facto on-line social wine experience. And yet, that’s exactly what’s happened. And that’s awesome.
Last week, Twitter Taste Live embarked on another new edition to their lineup of events, pairing up with Wines of Argentina to kick-off a month-long focus on Argentina’s wine regions, beginning with the extreme northerly area of Salta and including tweets from the winemakers based in the area (specifically bodegas Etchart, Colomé & Michel Torino, including Victor Marcantoni, Thibaud Delmotte & Alejandro Nesman).
When you’re checking out the wines of Salta, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Many of the vines are old, planted on non-grafted rootstock brought over from France during the phylloxera epidemic in Europe.
- Many of those vines are planted at some of the highest elevations in the world (regularly in excess of 5500 ft, some higher than 10,000 ft).
What does this mean for the wine? Typically, older vines yield less fruit, but the fruit they do provide is very concentrated in flavors and potential extract. Higher elevations tend to accentuate diurnal temperature variations, which can help in ripening [Note: that statement may be incorrect – see comments]. As you might expect, some of the wines we tasted last week were concentrated and rich, but over the course of six wines (2 reds, 2 whites from each of the three featured producers) we were treated to a surprisingly wide spectrum of tastes and styles, especially when it came to the flagship Argentine varieties Malbec and Torrontes. In fact, some of the Malbec was downright soft & fruity, and some of the Torrontes was elegant and almost refined.
It’s gotten me excited for the next round of tastings this week – hopefully we’ll see equally high quality and breadth of styles from the other winemaking regions of Argentina. In any case, I think TTL is onto yet another winning strategy.
Read on for a recap of the twitter feed from last week’s tasting…
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