Articles Tagged sommelier journal

Well, That Was Easy. Not. (“The Once And Future Of Crete” In August 2014 SOMM Journal)

Vinted on August 12, 2014 binned in going pro, wine publications

My feature on the wines of the Greek isle of Crete is now available in the August 2014 issue of SOMM Journal.

That twenty-two word sentence belies what has to be one of the longest paths to seeing something published that I’ve ever had to walk.

Not that the folks at SOMM Journal / Tasting Panel were difficult to deal with; far from it (they have been a pleasure to work with, actually). And I loved getting to know the folks from Crete (and I was doubly-lucky in that I got to work with them this year in helping them present their wines and discuss their island’s native varieties at stops in both NYC and D.C.). It was everything that happened in-between and en route to working with those folks that required this article to be resurrected, phoenix-like.

Let’s just say this was not a quick route to publication, and I learned a valuable lesson in tenacity by pursuing this one. I was prepared to indulge myself in a litany recounting of the simple 4,422-step process constituting the in-between and en route, but I’ll spare you (you’re welcome).

The Cliff Notes version: I was originally “on assignment” with the Crete article for Sommelier Journal, after agreeing the concept with the then head honcho of the mag, during the 2012 Drink Local Wine conference (held that year in Colorado). Except about a year later, that that mag suddenly folded. Happily, Tasting Panel mag took it over, re-branded it as SOMM Journal, and was interested in the story…

Alright, so I lied about sparing you the litany.

Anyway, my Cretan sojourn bore additional tasty content fruit, by way of an interview with one of the island’s next-generation wine family members, and some thoughts for the Answers.com gig on three Cretan producers who are doing cool stuff.

The new SOMM Journal issue is worth checking out just for the map of Crete that Tasting Panel deputy editor Jonathan Cristaldi put together to include with my piece (see inset pic, which I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing, because it’s oozing with awesome).

Cheers!

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On The Death Of Sommelier Journal (Or “The Nigh Impossibility Of Building Wealth As A Wine Writer”)

Vinted on November 5, 2013 binned in best of, commentary, wine news

By now many of you will have heard that Sommelier Journal is ceasing publication.

The news came to me via SJ editor David Vogels, who several days ago issued an email to those writers who had contracted work with the magazine. I happen to be one of those writers, having only weeks ago completed a featured story / regional overview on Crete, an article that was to appear in SJ’s November issue. Here’s what Vogels wrote in the email:

“I regret to inform you that Sommelier Journal has suspended publication. We are currently negotiating with a group that hopes to purchase the title and resume publishing the magazine at some point within the next year. In the meantime, we have arranged with Wine & Spirits Magazine to complete the terms of our current paid subscribers with the same number of issues they have remaining (whether in print or online-only).”

The news is sad for several reasons. Sommelier Journal was a bright light among wine publications over the last six years, as any long-time 1WD reader is already well aware. It was probably the only publication that catered specifically to sommeliers, beverage directors, and others in a similar vinous vein who actually cared deeply about building a taste profile for their clientele.

But among the reasons for why the shuttering of SJ’s glossy covers totally sucks, the reason vying for number one in line for the suck-a-thon as far as I’m concerned is the fact that I’m now not going to be paid for the article I wrote for them. That’s work I sweated and bled, based on a journey I took to the region under the auspice that I was on assignment (I’ve reached out to World of Fine Wine about taking it up, but they seem to move pretty slowly, unless they have something they’d like me to promote to you, of course!).

I’d like to say that this development is probably a fluke, but I think it’s actually indicative of a larger issue, which is that paid content in any form is a tough sell, period. Paid content for a niche is even tougher. And as a result, building wealth by writing content about a niche topic like wine is a bit like talking about unicorns or the Easter bunny (or about Easter bunnies riding unicorns): fun to discuss, but ultimately a figment of our collective, wine-soaked imagination…

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Soon To Be A Cretin (Bound For Crete, Glossy Style?)

Vinted on July 5, 2012 binned in going pro, on the road

And you thought I was already there, didn’t you? About being a cretin, I mean.

This week, I head out (yes, again) on the road, this time bound for the Greek island of Crete, a trip that’s been in the making in some way/shape/form with www.allaboutgreekwine.com since 2010 (we last discussed it when I visited with them in Santorini almost precisely two years ago).

The interesting thing about this trip, in the Going Pro side of things, is that in some ways I’m “on assignment,” having preliminarily agreed with Sommelier Journal to pen a regional overview piece on Crete for their 2013 publication schedule.

I am hoping in no small part that my eventual appearance in a wine glossy will show that I’m not anti-wine-glossy (though I am anti-douchebaggery) and will help to temper what seems to be unhealthily strong reactions from other wine glossy staff whenever I mention the words “wine glossy” on these virtual pages, to the point where the critical mention significantly outshines the actual focus of the article (hey, weren’t we talking about somebody’s wine here, anyway?). The message, I think, being twofold:…

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Uber-Critic Robert Parker Drops The Gloves In Sommelier Journal Interview

Vinted on May 2, 2012 binned in best of, commentary, wine publications

Though certainly at what many would consider well-deserved retirement age (he turns 65 this year), Robert Parker – still the single most influential critic of any kind in the world – is not retiring any time soon.

If you’ve read the interview with Parker by sommelier David D. Denton in the April 15, 2012 issue of Sommelier Journal, you already know that Parker has called the rumor of his retirement “totally not true.”

You’d also know that he has critical words for overzealous followers of fresh produce in the restaurant world (“I don’t need the entire history of the vegetable from the time it was planted to the time it was harvested”), fervently believes that former Wine Advocate contributor Jay Miller and MW Pancho Campo are innocent of any pay-to-play wrong-doing (“this guy Jim Budd seems to have something against him, and I don’t know what goes on there” – he’s apparently lawyered-up and hired an investigative service called Kroll to find out), and that he considers himself the first wine blogger (an interesting comparison that I think was first explored here on the virtual pages of 1WineDude.com during my interview with Parker).

And if you’d read that SJ interview, then you’d also know that Parker reserves his most vitriolic words for author Alice Feiring and her position at the forefront of the crusade to bring natural wines into the public consciousness (links and emphasis mine):

“We don’t promote this, but Beaux Frères [ the Oregon wine producer of which Parker is a co-owner ] is biodynamically farmed, the wines aren’t fined or filtered, and I’d say that for most of the vintages we’ve done to date, we didn’t need to put SO2 on the label because the levels were so low. So when we talk about all these catchphrases like ‘natural wine,’ I can tell you that people like Alice Feiring are charlatans – I think they are no better than the snake-oil salesman of yesterday. They are selling a gimmick. Most wines are natural.”

Think the critic doth protest too much? If you asked me that question, the answer would be “probably, but I’m more concerned with how the rest of us are going to look now”…

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