The first thing that you need to know about the recently-awarded Top 10 Touriga Nacional wines from Portugal is that there area actually 12 of them.
Such is the strangeness of Portuguese wine politics that a contest selecting the top ten single-varietal bottlings of Touriga Nacional – the grape on which Portugal’s red table wine future seems to be staked (according to the focus attended to it at the 2010 Wines of Portugal International Conference in Porto) couldn’t actually stick to the rules of its namesake.
The Top 10 TNs were winnowed down from a list of thirty TN bottlings selected by ViniPortugal (the group who organized the conference and who are charged with promoting Portuguese wines internationally, who got the list down from 80 submitted samples) through a panel of tasters that included MWs Jancis Robinson, Doug Frost and Mary Ewing-Mulligan (among others). The 12 winners of the 10 were then presented at a gala dinner event at the stunning Palácio da Bolsa in Porto, following Day One of the conference.
While the dinner and surroundings at the Palácio da Bolsa were both stunning, I wouldn’t use the same word to describe the vast majority of the Touriga Nacional wines that I tasted…
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For those of you who’ve missed (what will certainly seem like) the last several thousand posts here on 1WineDude.com, I recently spoke at the 2010 Wines of Portugal International Conference as a panelist on the topic of how the Internet and Social Media are impacting the world of wine and how that will impact the Portuguese wine industry.
Among my fellow panelists was the talented Neal Martin, who writes for eRobertParker.com covering Bordeaux. In some ways, Neal proved the counterbalance to the messages being offered by me and the other panelists, in that he has a rather skeptical approach to the power of social media in the wine world. During the course of the panel, Neal raised several points about social media’s place in the context of wine criticism that I and the other panelists did not address directly – not because we’re without opinion on those points, but because we felt they weren’t relevant to the topic of how wine producers (the largest contingent of our panel audience) could leverage the power of social media online to help their business.
In my case, it certainly did NOT mean that I agreed with those points, as will become clear to anyone in the course of reading this article, in which I will address what I took as the primary (or, if not primary, at least relatively important) points raised or hinted at by Neal about social media’s place in wine criticism – and try to refute them.
I should note that I enjoy Neal’s company, respect his work, and marvel at his writing abilities. But I found many of his views on social media so profoundly off-base that I felt they needed comment. It’s not that Neal sees no value in social media, but I got the impression that his view is looking backward, not forward – and thinking ahead is absolutely key in understanding what social media can do for you, and the place that it is very likely to take in the future in terms of wine criticism.
Let’s take a look at the contrarian views that are all too often espoused when applying social media to wine, and go from there. I’ve grouped them below roughly in a group of three, and summarized each as a hypothetical quite or argument. It’s worth noting that I’m not quoting anyone in particular but am paraphrasing and, while it might be tempting to anoint someone like Neal as a sort of dark arts saint of an anti-social-media satanic church, life is rarely that simple and it’s certainly not my intention here.
In this case, Neal’s comments during our panel were simply the catalyst for a sort of… manifesto that took shape in my (twisted) mind. The kind of thing you’re compelled to write because you have to (and because you’re a bit tired of preaching the same gospel over and over, and would like to have a handy place to keep it so you can refer others to it again… and again… and again…). I will warn you, it’s long and probably not appropriately “scannable” for blog reading, but f–k it I’m posting it anyway.
As always, your comments / criticisms / points / love / hate are all welcome!…
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I hope you’ll forgive the low production quality and complete lack of credits/intro/music in this vid – I’ve had a pretty difficult time trying to post this from Portugal (due in part to a busy schedule with few breaks, fewer Internet access points, and a rather massive laptop PC crash… the HORROR!).
Anyway, I felt it important in the Going Pro saga to report in from Portugal while I was still actually in Portugal – and especially since I was here in a “pro” context. In the short vid, I talk about a few of the inspirational things that struck me during the conference (most of which consisted of me getting to hang with some seriously talented MW peeps). As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments, so long as they’re not about my hair or the fact that I had to whisper since I was recording this vid early in the morning!).
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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