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Terroir: Idiots, Elvis & Sex

I’d love to give you a summary of this article, but I can’t. The BEST thing, by far, that I can do is three short quotes. If these don’t make you want to read the rest, and make you want to explore the concept of “terroir”, then I’ll drink a bottle of Gallo!

The Shakespeare of Terroir – Alder Yarrow at Vinography quoting Terry Theise

There are two types of people out there. There are those who understand that the soil makes the wine, and then there are those who are idiots.

Saying weather acts upon terroir is like saying some years Elvis was skinny, some years Elvis was fat. Elvis was still Elvis.

I like to say that Grand Cru vineyards are the earth’s erogenous zones. They are special places that tingle when sunlight hits them.

I particularly like the last one – full of potential for elaboration!


Oddbins chain sold to ex cellar

Oddbins put up the “SOLD” sign yesterday (see here, and here). Really, for those who have been following this (including me), it was not a surprise. What might be a surprise was who bought it. Ex Cellar.


Well, I can’t claim to be clued up about all the businesses out there, but this one is pretty small, with only 2 outlets BUT … it has a particularly powerful motivator, the kind of thing that might be needed to turn around the performance of a business like Oddbins. The family name.

Ex cellar is run by the son of the founder of Oddbins, Simon Baille.

I come across a phenomenon regularly both in my professional life and my personal experiences. The businesses that impress me most are those where everyone I come into contact with are motivated to make the ‘relationship’ with me (the customer, or supplier) a success because it is good for the business, and for them personally.

I’m sure that seems like common sense, but how many times are you served in a restaurant by someone who obviously is there only for the money and really is only doing the bare minimum? Instead, think how you feel when you walk into a small business and are served by the owner who does everything to please you and make you feel important – because you are.

The best larger businesses manage to engender that feeling even when you are being served by an employee, not the owner, but that employee is fully committed to the business and to the relationship.

Oddbins USED to have this. There was a camaraderie, a pioneering spirit and a sense of fun that was shared amongst all stores. Even though they were not running a small, independent local store, you still felt like it was, but still got the benefit of great buyers sourcing interesting stuff from all around the world.

When it lost that sense of fun, that commitment, it lost its USP and it became just another retailer. Even the mightiest can fall at this hurdle (Starbucks is on the retreat, and McDonalds has been for some years too).

I hope that the new owners can use the family link to recreate that personal commitment from the staff to the business that will make Oddbins a great source of wine again. It is not going to be easy, but all of a sudden, there is at least the potential for this to happen.

If I could make a suggestion though, I would suggest that the developers of the ex cellar website do not get the job of redesigning the Oddbins site! If you need contacts, let me know!

Cooking with left-overs – with a difference

I don’t know about you, but I think there is a lot of wisdom in the motto of the late Len Evans:

People who say “You can’t drink the good stuff all of the time” are talking rubbish. You must drink good stuff all the time. Every time you drink a bottle of inferior wine, it’s like smashing a superior bottle against the wall. The pleasure is lost forever – you can’t get that bottle back.

Whilst I can’t afford to follow it to the letter, I do believe that in my life I can only consume a limited number of alcohol units. I do enjoy myself, but not to excess.

In this case, I consider that most non-wine alcohol units that I consume are like smashing that proverbial bottle against the wall – I could have used them to drink more wine instead.

I do enjoy a whisky from time to time, and the very occasional G&T, but I almost never have anything else.

However, as a good host I keep a stock of other drinks for when others are visiting, or bottles that have been gifted. These sit, in silent slumber, in a drinks cupboard in the kitchen. Unloved.

When I first heard about “Cooking with Booze” I thought it was a spankingly good idea for a cookbook, but now it occurs to me it is even better than that. It is a way to use my “left-overs” in a creative way.

One additional reason for liking this book is that the author has “done the web 2.0 thing” and actually made the whole content available free on the internet on the site in recognition of the fact that there are a percentage of us willing to pay for the convenience of having the book at home, and that making the content free will hopefully attract loads of different people, increasing sales. I hope it works!

(It does for me)

So, if you happen to be invited over chez moi in the near future, look out!

(p.s. In case you were wondering, I shall probably skip the chapter on cooking with wine and drink it while I cook with everything else)

Blogging Matters to Harpers

I had a piece published on the Harpers, or should I say Talking Drinks, web page yesterday.

I had been talking to their web editor for some months as I knew they were looking at this area, and we had similar views. He invited me to write a short piece about the state of blogging and introducing the concept of blogs to their (probably sceptical) readers.

Hopefully I did the latter, but there wasn’t room enough to explore all the sorts of conversations that are going on in the space available. That’s what I do more of here.

If you are interested, please take a read and let me know your thoughts on “Why does wine blogging matter?” and pass on the link to others as well.

The wine business has always sought ways to reach out to consumers and communicate the personality and individuality of their wines, and now blogging – whether it be by the winemaker, the consumer with first-hand experience, or the trade professional offering a trusted review, makes this possible.

Lots of fun stuff to discuss at the upcoming European Wine Bloggers Conference

See you there?

A very social media

It seems I am spending more of my time socialising than writing about social media at the moment.

Last week I was off to Windsor to meet Joe Roberts and Andrew Barrow, then on Friday I met up with the “Lewisham Bloggers” (a local grouping of bloggers on a whole range of topics, living in this part of London), and last night it was the London Bloggers.

Wow! What a night for someone who spends so much of their day involved in social media sites like me (“My name is Robert, and I’m a SocialMediaChat-a-Holic“)

One of the great things about blogging, as I have mentioned before, is that you meet all sorts of different people around the world who share your interests and passions. But one of the other aspects is that, as bloggers, we are in the business of building communities, and we are therefore, it seems to me, interested in all sorts of other communities as well.

Last night I had great conversations about wine (amongst other things), but none of them with other wine bloggers. There was the digital marketing consultant, the Food & Drink Editor, the Digital PR strategist, the Underground blogger (I was particularly excited to meet Annie Mole, I must admit), the Digital Brand & Marketing Commentator, and many more.

One of the things I learned is that if you want to be taken seriously in these circles there is one “must-have” item.

Not a 3G iPhone.

It is a Moo Card.

I started picking up a few of these last night, and by the third or fourth, I felt like apologising for only having my “boring, traditional” cards to give in return. So my Moo cards are on order right now!

It was interesting to meet all sorts of people, and all levels of bloggers – from the A-listers to those starting out, and generally just have fun without having to explain (again) why I spend so much time on these sites.

A particularly big thank you to Stella Artois for sponsoring the evening, not only with some drinks for everyone, but also offering a prize in their airship.

Oh, I should mention THAT I WON A TRIP IN THE AIRSHIP!!!!!

I’ll be posting photos here after the trip, currently scheduled for this Friday.

[I wish I had an airship to use for promotions!]

Thanks to everyone for the evening, and I’ll update this post with links to other round-ups as I come across them.

Some other round-ups:
London Underground Blog

Social PRobiotic

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