Archive - February, 2008

ABC1 Women – Look Out for Monty!

No, this is not about educated women suddenly taking an interest in golf and a certain Scottish exponent, but rather a Mr Monty Waldin – wine writer and organic (and biodynamic) cheerleader.

Channel 4 Sales (presumably their sponsorship and ad sales arm) says:

ABC1 Women [presumably this is the target audience]

“Top wine critic and author Monty Waldin has decided to put his money where his mouth is and pack it all in to make wine bio-dynamically in rural south west France. He has just over a year to achieve his dream to turn a few hectares into top selling organic wine. Once ensconced, his only company will be a donkey, visiting friends from the UK, incredulous local peasantry and occasionally, Monty’s high maintenance girlfriend, Silvana who jets in from Italy.”

Other than the gratuitous insertion of the term “high maintenance” (is that really necessary?) this sounds interesting. It does raise a few questions … like who did all the hard work to actually grow the vines in the first place as you cannot simply say “Oh, I think I’ll make this wine biodynamically this year”.

Also, if he only has a few hectares, what does “top selling” mean? He sells more than a few bottles to his mates? Wouldn’t the continued presence of C4 cameras & crew rather help that, irrespective of the quality of the wine?

Anyway, this is one I shall be on the look out for. It will be interesting to see how well they can explain the concept of biodynamic wine to the general public considering how little understood it is even by wine enthusiasts. It will hopefully make France a more attractive wine buying destination for people as well.

I have met Monty in passing and I know he will have the right sort of charm for such a series (and I think those ABC1 women will agree), so I expect this will be a fun addition to the Wine Conversation.

Thanks to Decanter for alerting me to this programme

Blogging on the road

Apologies for the silence but I am on the road at the moment, enjoying an unseasonably warm Rioja at the moment.

Just met with the Catavino crew, Gabriella and Ryan Opaz, and we still have lots to discuss about the impending European Wine Bloggers’ Conference. We also talked about so many other issues that make me want to sit down and get on with exploring my thoughts here. Oh well! Soon enough!

In the interim, you can also find me dropping in on some discussions on wine & technology issues on the Open Wine Consortium, a new social network for those involved in the Wine 2.0 developments. More on this soon (but you can read about it elsewhere too)

Meditations on wine

I must say, there is a lot of truth in this:

20 Things About Life I’ve Learned From Drinking Wine

Thanks 1WineDude

Blog Awards

You may already be already aware of this, but Tom Wark at Fermentation established the American Wine Blog Awards in 2007, and nominations are now open for the 2008 awards. I think this is an excellent initiative that we should all support.

This is not a post to canvas for votes or nominations, I am pretty sure my interests are far too esoteric to appeal to appeal to a broad range of readers, but rather it is an appeal to broaden the reach of the awards themselves.

The categories are:
Best Wine Blog
Best Single Subject Wine Blog
Best Wine Review Blog
Best Wine Business Blogging
Best Winery Blog
Best Wine Podcast or Video Blog
Best Wine Blog Graphics

These awards are already very popular and generate a lot of nominations and votes, but the vast majority of these are from reades and bloggers in the USA. If you are reading my blog I assume you have at least a passing interest in wine and I know from my trusty Google Analytics account that a large percentage of you are from outside the US. If so, head on down to the awards pages and nominate your own favourite blogs from all over the world. The only provisos are that they are blogs about wine, written in English and updated regularly.

As Tom will know, I think that the term “American” in the title is misleading, but more on that another day (it seems surly to go into that now).

Let’s spread the word and make this competition, including the nominations, votes and awards, even more representative of wine blog readers around the world.

Thanks Tom!

Support your local winemaker

I read an interesting post on this topic over on (unfortunately it is in Italian so not all of you may be able to read it) written by the entertaining & knowledgeable Franco Ziliani. The gist was to pick up on a campaign in the US to “support your local winemaker“.

Although the initial campaign was probably intended to be about supporting local business by spending your money there, to promote ‘artisan’ production, and to minimise transport costs and its effects, Franco took it off into a new area – Local Collaboration.

His point, which I thought was very valid, is that winemakers should spend more time supporting each other within a region so as to establish local best practice and encourage the development (and preservation) of their own regional/local style. If everyone (and in this case he was pointing the finger at Italian winemakers, but could equally apply elsewhere) employs the same ‘consultants’ and ‘flying winemakers’ then rather than improving wine, this is just one step further towards the standardisation of styles across the regions, and the world. This is particularly important in a country like Italy with its hundreds of defined (and thousands of undefined) regions jostling for recognition, differentiation and survival, but is also common to all winemakers.

How might they do this? Well, by a strange coincidence (or not) I read a post on such a topic by the folks at La Gramiere in France. These are ‘flying winemakers’ only in the sense that they are Americans who have flown to France to start a new life as winemakers. Their blog is a very open and honest view of the trouble they are going through to get established (good luck, by the way!).

[While you are at it, click here to see the heartbreaking reason for the scored out name on this image]

They have just visited Chateau Rayas, a very well known producer in their general area, not just for fun but also to exchange ideas (or should I say, learn from those who have been doing it for a while longer). I’m not sure how much of this goes on on a daily basis in this or other regions, but it is the kind of activity that should be encouraged. Plus, of course, we too can learn from it through the wonderful world of blogging winemakers.

I’m sure there are plenty of winemakers willing to tell others how to run their wineries, but how many of them want to take that advice?

Thank goodness for people like Matt & Amy at la Gramiere, and also Josh at Pinotblogger who give us a glimpse of life as a winemaker, and for their willingness to share information as well as listen to others.

Support local winemakers!

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