Archive - October, 2009

Off to Lisbon for #EWBC

Yes, you will see that ‘code’ a lot over the next few days.

#EWBC is the twitter tag for all content related to the European Wine Bloggers Conference which takes place this weekend in Lisbon. If you need to know more about it at this stage, head over to the European Wine Bloggers site.

I will be up at 4am, in a tax before 5am and flying at around 7am, so I doubt I’ll be fully functioning tomorrow, but hope to be better rested for the event kicking off on Friday. However, you can still reach me on twitter (@thirstforwine) and via email (thirstforwine AT Google’s Mail Service)

I am really looking forward to catching up with the wonderful friends I made during the first event last year, and meeting a whole range of new people this year. Our ultimate goal is to create a strong network of friends around Europe, and the rest of the world, so we can do even better, more useful and creative things to do with wine. If you want to help, then join in!

There are almost 120 people coming to the European edition, and some 250 made it to the US version. The enthusiasm for meeting face-to-face is increased and facilitated by social media, despite our critics. Let’s show them some of what they are missing out on by not joining in enthusiastically!

See you in Lisbon!

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The Wine Show Merry-go-round

It is a really busy time, and a great time to taste wine.

Today, and for this weekend, I will be at The Wine Show in the Business Design Centre in London showing off some of the wines I represent in the UK on the Wines from Spain stand (come over to say hello), but also speaking to other exhibitors about what they are doing to reach wine consumers, and about their innovations.

Then it is the turn of the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference taking place in Lisbon from the 30th of October to the 1st of November 2009. There are already 117 confirmed participant bloggers from across Europe but also further afield. I am particularly excited to know that we have so many friends from the US and Canada coming too as I have yet to attend the US version of this event. Plenty of great wine and food will be consumed alongside the more serious conference discussion programme.

Then it is back to the UK to take part in The Wine Gang Christmas Fair on November 7th, 2009. There will be literally hundreds of wines there for you to taste PLUS I’ll be helping to showcase some great food and wine bloggers, recording what we get up to on the day and the impressions of the wines.

After that I skip off to Rioja a few times for the Wine Future conference and then a further couple of trips with wine lovers later in November and December.

Somewhere in there I hope to bring you updates on some of the exciting wine developments I’ve been learning about in packaging, research and even games! (more soon)

This blog is not updated every day, but if you want to stay up-to-date (and until I manage to bring it all back into one place) you can follow me on twitter and on the various sites linked above. I hope that somewhere along the way I can taste some of these wines with you in person.

Stay in touch! I may need your help to remind me where I am at any moment.

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Honest about being Craggy

I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting of prestige wines held at the marvellous Corrigans restaurant (I was too busy enjoying the food to remember to take any photos, sorry).

Craggy Range Tasting

Craggy Range Tasting

The occasion was a tasting of recent vintages of Craggy Range, one of the exponents of really top class wines from unique terroirs from the new world, in this case New Zealand. Whilst many wine drinkers might think that the concept of single vineyard, terroir-driven wines might be the preserve of the ‘old’ world, this is really not the case. I am seeing more and more of this style of wines reach the UK consumer from places like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and, of course, California which might finally be starting to make people notice – but will they believe it, and more importantly, pay the difference?

I have not been a great fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc recently (I feel that many have lost subtlety and have become hard to drink and enjoy rather than taste) so it was really refreshing to taste some absolutely wonderful crisp, mineral Chardonnays from single vineyards such as Gimblett Gravel, and earthy, dark fruit and herbal Pinot Noirs, such as that from the Calvert vineyards along the famous Felton Road.

What stuck with me was the straight-talking (sometimes achingly frank) style of the winemaker Rod Eastman which was captivating, particularly since it was clearly combined with great wine knowledge. This is exactly the kind of voice I would love to follow online on a blog, or vlog, to educate me about his wines, about this quality of wine, and about his country. Rod was able to give his wines context, which included some critical assessments of particular vintages, grapes and closure decisions (he happens to really hate cork).

You rarely hear brand spokespeople making any such admissions, and it reminds us that as well as being the winemaker, he is still a wine drinker himself, and therefore “one of us” – and someone we can trust. In fact many of those whose views I trust most have managed to combine a professional view with an honest, personal opinion too.

At this time Craggy Range are not active in social media, but I know it is on their agenda (is it not on everyone’s yet?) and I look forward to learning a lot more about the unique terroirs and regions of New Zealand from them one day soon, and I hope the winemakers’ views feature clearly on whatever they do.

Thank you to Warren Adamson for arranging for me to attend.

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Are you a wine gamer?

I found out, through twitter, about a new wine related game in the style of Sim City called “Wine Tycoon

Wine Tycoon claims you can:

Create the vineyard of your dreams in 10 of the most important wine regions of France. Commanding operations from your very own French chateau, build your winery, plant and tend your vines through all four seasons of the year, and hire staff to harvest and process your grapes.

That part sounds like it could be interesting if it adds a business dimension (who knows, it might train a generation of French winemakers to think about the value of international marketing) and could teach lots of game fans about the wine making process.

There are a couple of hints, however, that this has been developed or marketed by people who know more about games than wine. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be good to make sure some of the key things people learn about wine are factually correct. Things like:

Produce 50 French wines such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Pinot Gris and Champagne from more than 40 different grape varietals

Why Pinot Gris? The others are regions, not grapes, so hopefully the makers will go some way towards educating gamers about what varieties, and blends, are used in the classic regions. Apparently there is a wine “encyclopedia” included in the game, so that should be interesting.

Anyway, for most of my readers this will be somewhat academic as it seems that the game will only be available in the US initially. I hope it does well and we get a chance to try it too. If the makers want to get me a copy for evaluation from a UK/European perspective, I’d be happy to test it!

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Wine is Science – but only the fun bit

I’m always on the look out for new ways to explain wine that inspires people to look at wine differently and maybe choose to explore it further. I can’t say that I expected this introduction though:

“Wine is one of the most influential forms of biotechnology. …

The use of yeast to make fermented beverages such as wine is possibly the earliest form of biotechnology, according to Patrick McGovern, who has pioneered the use of biomolecular archaeology to reveal how wines were made as long ago as the Neolithic. This biotechnology has evolved a great deal since the earliest known vintages were fermented seven millennia ago in Hajji Firuz in the Zagros Mountains of Iran.” [read more here]

The New Scientist magazine has teamed up with local wine merchant The Colchester Wine Company, to create a tasting case for readers, and used great creativity to present the wine in manner relevant to the audience (although quite how many will really approach their next bottle as the outcome of a biomolecular science experiment, I’m not sure!)

By the way, if you are interested in this link, check out Jamie Goode’s excellent Wine Science book

Hats off to those involved, and do let me know how sales go!

Note: It is a little ironic of course if you consider the “WHO” headline on the New Scientist site itself of course:

Thanks to Bob Young (@SOCOACH) for the tip!

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