In part of his coverage/promotion of wine blogger Alder Yarrow’s new gig as part of Team Jancis over at JancisRobinson.com, wine blogger Tom Wark rightly points out that it’s almost paradoxically at once significant and also a natural, balladromic bit of evolution to have an established wine personality tap into the blog-o-world when seeking to add more wine writing talent to their publications.
Tom also claimed that “we are living in the Golden Age of Wine Writing and the Golden Age of Wine Writing Talent.”
I read those words during the same period of time that I was making way through a review copy of long-time wine scribe Gerald Asher’s new collection of writings, A Vineyard In My Glass (not literally at the same exact time, of course, I’m not Thomas Jefferson, so I’m not reading eight books simultaneously while also dictating correspondences and cataloging in detail how many of my goats died from frost exposure last Winter while slaking my thirst with Scuppernong , or whatever), and I can tell you that just about every page of Asher’s collection screams out (in a polite, congenial British scream, of course) that Tom is way off base in his claim. I say this with mad respect for Tom, of course, but…
Sorry, bro. We are not even close to being in a golden age of wine writing talent – unless you extend that Age’s starting point back far enough to include the writings of Asher and Hugh Johnson; because in terms of plying the craft of writing and applying the focused, dedicated talent of it to the world of wine, those two writers have NO modern equal.
If you’re reading this and you haven’t sampled the writings of those two stalwarts, then you need to do so with all speed. If you’re reading this and you fancy yourself a wine writer, I’m willing to bet a case of DRC that you couldn’t go toe-to-toe in terms of writing skills with either one of those gentlemen, even on your best day…
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1) It is the darkest of times for wine writing. The general decline in the consumption of real journalistic reporting has resulted in immensely talented people being out of regular wine-writing-work. The black cloud enveloping the wine writing sphere is actually the dark cloak of the grim reaper; that silver lining you see is his scythe, gleaming against the available light, raised to the apex of its arc in his cold, bony hands, beginning its inexorable path to cut wine writing down at its haunches.
2) It is the brightest of times for wine writing, for those who are comfortable with ambiguity and have an entrepreneurial bent. Since information about wine is now being consumed in almost an infinite array of forms on-line (with no-to-low-cost barriers to entry to almost all of them), those with passion, drive, talent and business sense can earn a comfortable living – if they’re able to market themselves and build their own personal brands. Success stories include new and traditional media types (and those like Dominique Browning who have successfully leveraged both).
3) Apparently, I have fooled a good number of people into thinking that I know what I am talking about. I think there might be a good book idea in there somewhere, but I won’t bother to pitch it because the traditional publishing industry has 14 billion levels of checks and bureaucracy and is (almost) hopelessly broken.
4) Everything positive that you’ve ever heard about the legendary Gerald Asher is probably true. His keynote speech seamlessly wove together wine writing history, wine sales, insight into the human condition, and prostitution – and that was just in the first three minutes.
5) Please stop telling me that Napa wines are never Bretty, or that their ripe fruits will outshine any Bretty stank even after years in the bottle. Because I sampled some older vintages at the post-prandial (does anyone not love that word?) tastings at the Symposium, and while most were NOT Bretty, those that were displayed way more fruit-of-the-barnyard than fruit-of-the-vine, if you catch my drift.
(more after the jump…)
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