Archive by Author

Writing under the influence of twitter

I’m currently working on a project looking at the measurement of online influence. Or is it influence online? Or is that influence of online measurement? The whole concept is hard to grasp. What value do these values and lists have?

First question, what do you measure and what does it mean or imply?

'how to win friends and influence people'
Image by bubbo-tubbo via Flickr

For example, do I have “influence” because I have almost 8700 followers as @thirstforwine on twitter, or do I have 8700 followers because I have influence?

In fact, I only have followers because a few people thought I was interesting and friendly enough that they kindly recommended me to their friends, and then these people did the same. In that case THEY have influence. I now have *some* by extension.

Some influence measurement sites/scores

If you want to look into this area, here are some sites to check out and sign up to, including my current ratings for reference and to demonstrate the variability of scores and their scales:

  • PeerIndex: I have a PeerIndex score of 55 (and an ‘Authority’ score of 45)
  • Klout: My Klout score is 66 and I’m a “Thought Leader”
  • Twitalyzer: I have an impact score of 4.3% (which puts me in the 88.8th percentile) and I’m a “Reporter”
  • PostRank: Not even sure what figures to quote, but I have 411 “Engagement Points” so far for January. Good?

What does influence mean?

I think I can encourage a certain number of people to follow links, but who are they and what are they doing? Is it just robots? Are they curious? Or am I really answering questions they have, and therefore delivering some value?

In the case of wine, should it only be measured by an ability to get bottles into consumers hands?

Influence ought to mean “creates action or change”, but how can we measure that, even just online? What many tools really look at are just a proxy for that – followers, retweets, mentions, etc.

Worst of all, are these ‘influential’ lists just self-referential? For example, the lists of ‘top blogs’ add weightings to links from other ‘top blogs’ that mean that once you are ‘in the club’ you are more likely to stay there until you make the mistake of linking to newer blogs and giving them a boost up the ladder (note; this is intended to be ironic – seems we need to be sure to qualify things these days). Once you are listed as influential, it is more likely you will be followed, retweeted, quoted, measured and interviewed and so you become more influential.

What use is it?

Once I’ve had a look at the actual rankings I will also post some thoughts on how, if at all, these measurements might be useful for anything other than stroking a few egos.

The Plan

I will be working with one of the services listed above to put together a view of Wine Influencers on Twitter, providing them with a reasonably comprehensive list of wine twitterers to review. It should be fun to plug in some names to the algorithms and see what list/order emerges and then get your feedback.

Who would you say is “most influential” in wine (online, on twitter)? How do you even define it? Leave me a note to link me to you favourite list of wine twitterers and I will do my best to get them included.

UPDATE 25 January: In writing this post I realised I had not properly signed up for PostRank analysis. I have now done so and update the line above. Firstly, it is VERY confusing. I have no idea what stats mean, what is public, what is about me, versus the blog, and how it is calculated. However, it SEEMS to be extremely powerful and FREE, so I will keep looking into it. Any recommendations or help? Do you use it?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Smoky Pinots and spicy Cabernets

Yesterday will be one of the more memorable days among the many tasting occasions taking place this January.

First, the BIVB event. I went to hear how the BIVB presented itself, the diversity of offerings from Burgundy (at Village level) and maybe try a few of the seemingly popular 2009 Burgundies. The presentation was simultaneously familiar, yet surprising, but more on that soon. The 2007 & 2008 wines they showed were really good, but I can’t help feeling that if they lost that chip off their shoulder about their superiority, consumers might be more forthcoming.

However, the most memorable aspect (above and beyond the very few 2009′s that I tasted, which to be honest were not as impressive as I had expected) was the fact that a light in the Old Billingsgate gantry decided to overheat and burst into flame. Not sure if people were more concerned for their safety and that of the building, or the impact it was having on their ability to smell the wines. However, I left as we were being (temporarily) evacuated. Here are a few snaps I took of the offending light.

I moved on to the Oregon & Washington tasting instead, and arriving earlier than planned, was lucky to take part in a comparative tasting of some TOP Washington Cabernet Sauvignon wines from 2007 and 1997. Here are my tweets:

  • Ch. St. Michelle Cold Creek 07: chalky, soft tannins but a big sweet, dark ripe fruit body. Slightly reductive nose. Years to go
  • Ch. St. Michelle Cold Creek 97: lots of tertiary character on nose, tannins nicely integrated. Sweet spice. Elegant, almost floral, wine
  • Seven Hills, Klipsun Vineyard, 07: v. Young, plum & White pepper nose, sweet, dark fruit and liquorice root
  • Seven Hills, Klipsun Vinyrd, 97: smells of Campari (bitter edge, spirity), sweet fruit masked by acidity & tannin, maybe falling away? [I decided later it was actually Averna it smelled of - a herbal digestive drink]
  • L’Ecole No41 Pepper Bridge 07: Pepper (yes), blackcurrant nose and christmas spice, chalky, rounded taste. V. Nice
  • L’Ecole No41 Pepper Bridge 97: very nicely integrated, juicy, tasty wine. Well developed. My fave I think
  • Woodward Canyon Old Vines 07: mocha, vanilla nose. V soft, opulent tannins. BIG! needs age
  • Woodward Canyon Old Vines 97: herbal, all spice nose and hint of damp. Real herbal edge to taste. A little overpowering
  • Overall impression of Washington Cabs: REALLY benefit from age, they’re full flavoured, not full bodied, wines. Know your AVAs

As you might expect really, the extra time has been very positive for these wines. The shame is that as you drink the 1997s you really notice how young and un-ready even the 2007′s are, but that is how they are being experienced by the consumer. Wineries … hold on to your stocks a little longer! Your importers and retailers cannot do it, and it is your wines and your eventual customer that will benefit.

A memorable day in lots of ways.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Two wine apps – a brief review

I don’t spend long enough looking at apps for the iPhone and other smart phones, largely because so many of them are based around storing tasting notes and collecting wine information – and I think that too boring for words.

However, sometimes some off-the-wall stuff comes along that captures my imagination, at least for a bit. Neither of these two apps will necessarily divert you for long, but they are both free … and so are worth every penny!

UK Wine Tax Calculator

Screen capture of UK Wine Tax Calculator app

50.6% Tax - tastes funny

(App by APPetise)

A simple app. No tasting notes, no recommendations, no points.

Plug in the retail price you are paying for your wine, plus the alcohol level, and this handy little app will tell you what (MASSIVE) percentage is going DIRECTLY to the government in both VAT and Duty. Then you can sit back, enjoy your wine, and when you hear politicians say “We are all in this together”, you can toast them with your glass of tax-revenue-in-a-glass. You’ve done your bit!

An interesting development would be to add estimated values for certain other items, such as the packaging and supermarket retail margins, so you can get an idea of what percentage of that final price might actually be the cost of the wine itself! You’d be surprised!

Wine Tonight?

Screen capture of Wine Tonight App

Wine Tonight App - yes dear

(App by Whitespace)

Know anything about biodynamic wines? What about the theory’s application to a wine tasting calendar? No?

I’ve been monitoring the idea that as well as the wines being MADE following certain lunar and natural cycles, the wines taste different on a similar schedule. I bought a little booklet called “When Wine Tastes Best” for 2010 and always thought it should really be an app. And in 2011 they’ve obliged, sort of.

In theory, the days of the year fall into 4 categories; GOOD -Fruit & Flower and BAD – Leaf & Root. Don’t ask me how they decide, but if you look up a date it should tell you whether your wine will be showing itself at its best, or be having the vinous equivalent of a bad hair day.

I had hoped the app would allow you to link up to a calendar, maybe help you plan your wine dinners and tastings in advance. It doesn’t. It only tells you the status of TODAY. Click on “Wine Tomorrow?” and you get an ad for the printed booklet.

They’re REALLY missing a trick here. The physical booklet only costs £3.99 (or less) but there are printing costs, and delivery costs to factor in. SURELY they’d make a lot more money selling it on iTunes for £0.79 and encouraging a lot more immediate, impulse buys?

For the record, the calendar is hit-and-miss. I’ve not wholly bought into the concept, … but there are days where otherwise perfectly good wines just don’t taste right, so …

Have you spotted any other wine apps worth reviewing that are NOT tasting note stores or cellar management tools?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Lebanon and a truly inspiring wine story from the BBC

Today the BBC Radio 4 broadcast a special programme on the wines of Lebanon, presented by Jeremy Bowen, called ‘Vines on the Front Line‘. The result was actually a very interesting human story, not one of grapes, and I was impressed.

Jeremy Bowen, BBC

Jeremy Bowen, BBC

To listen to the report, click on the link below:

(at least if you are in UK, not sure if it works elsewhere. If I find a permanent download file, I will add this in here later too.)

Vines on the Front Line, BBC Radio 4

My view:

Jeremy is best known, at least in this household, as an international correspondent for the BBC, reporting from the Middle East on conflicts, power struggles and diplomatic wrangling. He is definitely not a name I would have associated with wine reports, but, as he said himself,

“Grapes have been part of my life as a correspondent”

… and I can well imagine!

There are many directions a programme about wine in Lebanon could have gone. It could have been an excuse to treat the people involved as freaks in the context of a war – bombs and suffering sell news better than wine stories after all. It could have been another ‘introduction to wine’ programme rehashing basic wine knowledge with a bit of politics thrown in to make it a bit different.

Instead, Jeremy Bowen’s people skills, and his ability to sniff out real, personal stories, were well matched to his political and historical knowledge, and used to make us understand that what people are doing is neither odd, nor crazy, but actually part of a culture that is older and more enduring than the political, religious divisions that dominate our news of this region. There’s a lesson in there!

I like the fact that he doesn’t actually spend time giving us any detailed tasting impressions, or discussing wine making practices other than a few references. Wine doesn’t have to be about that. What makes Lebanese wine different is the combination of ancient & modern history, the attitudes to wine culture and the imported technology, the recent struggles to keep these traditions alive, and by people whose passion is simply demonstrated by the fact that they continue to do it despite the political, and violent personal, setbacks.

I’ve listened to the programme 3 times. I want to go out and drink some Lebanese wine and learn more about it. That’s the mark of a good programme. Well done Jeremy. Well done BBC.

Can we have a few more like this please?

By the way, if you are inspired to try some Lebanese wines too, here’s a list of key wineries and their UK importers who might be able to help locate a local stockist to you (list courtesy of @LebanonWines)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Afros Wine – a sensory experience

What helps a winemaker make a really interesting wine?

Is it the tools, technology and modern training received from experts at the best wine colleges? Or might it be the fact that when they walk through a grove, crunching the remains of Autumn leaves underfoot, to the sounds of the local church bell down the hill, they know the fact that the trees are exactly 107 years old because their grandparents planted them to celebrate their wedding?

Vasco Croft at Afros

Does a biodynamic vintner make better wine because (s)he follows this particular regime, … or does the biodynamic respect for nature stem from a connection to that land that the vintner already has?

This was my second meeting with Vasco Croft of Afros Wine, the first being a Vinho Verde tasting in London where I was rather taken by his wines. This time we met at his estate on a visit during the Wines of Portugal International Conference (#WoPIC) in 2010.

By the way, Vasco, as a fellow visitor remarked, has more than a passing resemblance to a young Richard Gere and certainly seems to embody the ‘vitality’ that biodynamic followers like to discuss. He looks like he could move seamlessly from the winery to leading a local yoga masterclass.

I was taken by the sounds of his place. I’ve been to many wineries recently, from the large and clinical to the small and haphazard. This place was more ‘natural’, more suited to the translation of ‘Adegga’ as ‘farm’ rather than the grander wine term ‘estate’.

There may have been 30 people there, but you could still FEEL the calm, seeing the mountain horses and sheep allowed to roam freely in the vineyards and hearing the specially designed fountain sculpture ‘dynamising’ the water used in the winery and vineyard.

After a brief outdoor tour, past the edges of the vineyards, through the special room for biodynamic preparations, past the fountain and into the grove, we finally entered the recently completed tasting room. Here we matched the rather individual Afros wines to a menu specially designed by the kitchen team at Ferrugem (a well respected local restaurant) that, like the wines, take traditional materials and delivered them in an exciting way.

Our first experience was to match the delicate mouse and fragrantly biscuity Afros Espumante Reserva Loureiro 2007 (sparkling wine) with a spoon of “sarrabulho* sweet, Reineta apple puree and caviar of cherry tomatoes”. Arguably the food flavours were a little strong for the wine, but both were excellent.

sarrabulho sweet, Reineta apple puree and caviar of cherry tomatoes

Sarrabulho sweet and caviar of cherry tomatoes

Next was a superb take on a classic: Pastel de (Bacalhau com) Nata – a light pastry which instead of the traditional sweet cream, was filled with creamy, savoury cod in order to match the floral, crisp Afros white made from the Loureiro grape, Afros Loureiro 2009. A stunning combination, not just of the salty food and crisp wine, but also the creamy softness of the food accentuated the structure of the white wine. Wow!

We followed this with a surprising combination of  red Vinho Verde, made from a grape no-one thought could make ‘proper’ wine, the 2010 Afros Vinhao, with Caldo Verde soup (based on potato and cabbage I think). Lovely! The wine was intense, with that ‘purple’, inky, sharp character I associate with teinturier grapes (with red flesh) but also fresh, with a fruity character of crisp blueberries, red currants and pepper.

Next was the surprising Afros Espumante Reserva Vinhão 2006 sparkling red, made from the same Vinhao grapes, but further enhanced by the second fermentation that rounded out the palate with some yeasty character but also had the bubbles to bring out the fruity aromatics. We matched this to chef’s local equivalent of a ‘surf and turf’ dish of octopus, chestnut and red pepper sauce. So many flavours but well complemented by the wine.

polvo com tinta(o)

It is heartening to see a small business balancing a very modern outlook with a natural approach in a traditional context. Biodynamics, from a traditional ‘estate’ but made with an eye on an international consumer.

This is a small estate, and one of the very few registered biodynamic producers in the whole of the country, but I hope it represents a new wave of ‘artisan’ winemakers that will gain international and national recognition for their dedication, and will raise the profile and standing of their region and country.

Well done Vasco, and well done Portugal

p.s. lots more food and vineyard photos if you see the full set above or click through to my Afros photos on flickr

*as far as I can tell this is a dish made in the style of black pudding, but I have been unable to find out much more – it essentially was a blood-pudding meatball

Enhanced by Zemanta
Page 11 of 34« First...«910111213»2030...Last »