jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bloggers Conference: what I'd say if I was there!

Sad to be missing the second European Wine Bloggers Conference which is taking place in Lisbon this weekend. But as an old-time wine blogger (indeed, I think the original wineanorak blog was the first wine blog in Europe), and as an opinionated git, I think I'd have plenty to say, along these lines:

1. Authenticity is everything. You have to be yourself as you blog, or else it won't ring true, and it will be hard work to write.

2. You have to write fast, without agonising over every sentence and planning your postings too carefully. Otherwise it will take too long and you'll lose interest.

3. Related to (2), you need to post frequently. Daily is the gold standard. Less than weekly, and it's not really a blog, and you'll find it hard to build readership.

4. You have to be incredibly patient, and keep persevering. Being good will get you only so far. There are plenty of people smarter and more engaging that I am, but their blogs failed because they didn't persevere.

4. Monetization. This only applies to content sites. If you become really successful, you might have enough traffic that you can carry adverts. But that's some way down the line for most people. For most, the only way to make money from a blog is indirectly. You show the world what a switched on, competent, literate, entertaining person you are and they hire you for gigs.

5. Be honest. Don't let people pay for entries on your blog. Don't take backhanders for positive write-ups. Always say what you think, not what important people would like to hear. Turning down a shady-sounding deal may cost in the short-term, but it will pay in the long-term.

6. For companies or wineries looking to blog, go for it. Everyone is now, to some degree, a content provider. The boundary between journalism and commerce is fading, which is no bad thing as long as everyone is transparent, authentic and honest. Wineries can talk about what they are doing without giving a sales pitch. Agents can talk about their producers in ways that don't sound like they are just bigging them up. The important thing is to put your company/winery blog in the hands of someone who can write and can engage with readers, and set them free to do it.

7. Social media stunts like the Murphy-Goode hire will get you lots of attention, but this is only useful if your product is exceptional and worth talking about. You can get your time in the spotlight, but do you really want it? Only if your product can stand the scrutiny.

8. We all have to promote ourselves. It comes with the territory. But you can promote yourself too much. You can get in other people's faces to a degree that, frankly, becomes annoying. And it's generally best left to others to tell the world how good you are. (So no straplines, 'frankly, the world's best wine blog', please!)


Friday, May 01, 2009

Berry Bros & Rudd - a plug for their blog

One of the other wine blogs I enjoy a great deal is that of wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd (bbrblog.com). It has some informed commentators - including Jasper Morris, Simon Staples and David Berry Green - and, as the latest entry indicates, it is not afraid to get a bit controversial.

The story I'm referring to specifically here is the lament by Staples about Robert Parker's scores for the 2008 Bordeaux vintage. A cynic might argue that Staples wants prices to stay low so he can sell more; then again, he could just jump on the high Parker ratings and use these to sell more wine, even if the Chateau owners stick their prices up a bit in response. But I think Staples is acting in good faith here. He sounds like he wants what is best for Bordeaux, a region he seems to care a good deal for.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SITT twitterers

The SITT (specialist importers trade tasting) today at Vinopolis was excellent, if a little busy at times and slightly too warm. It was brilliantly organized, with a plentiful supply of great tasting glasses and far too many interesting, characterful wines to try in one session. If I find the time I'll post my top ten from the tasting here.

I bumped into a bunch of wine twitterers (see http://www.twitter.com/ if you are wondering what this is about - it's a form of micro-blogging that's all the rage at the moment) - and Andrew Chapman, an avid twitterer, took the picture above. From left to right, Brett Jones, Ryan Opaz, me, Robert Mackintosh and Gabriella Opaz. [For the original picture, go to: http://twitpic.com/1onra]

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blogs of note

First rule of blogging: little and often. In a quick review of those blogs that have made it onto my blog roll, I was horrified to find that some have been updated as little as once a month. Others seem to have understood how to do it a bit better, though.

Some that I really enjoy:

Bertand's www.wineterroirs.com is awesome, because of what he covers as much as how he does it. Really super selection of wine growers reviewed here, with great photography.

Thor Iverson keeps his blog updated and is always worth a read for his thoughtful commentary and good taste in wines.

Angry Alice has another well-updated, intelligent blog that I enjoy reading. I think she'd be even better, though, if she focused more on what she liked and vented less spleen on what she disapproves of. But I guess this gives added spice to her writing.

I always enjoy Clark Smith, and his interesting take on winegrowing, winemaking, wine science and technology.

Tyler Colman is emerging as one of the leading US online winewriters and he's always worth following.

Eric Asimov's The Pour is probably the best read of all wine blogs because of his position with the NYT. And it's great that for someone so prominent, he has such a great taste in wine.

These are just a few of the great wine blogs out there, so apologies to any that I didn't include in this short list. Next time.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Top 10 Food Blogs, from the Times online

The Times today carried a list of Top 10 Food Blogs, compiled by Simon Majumadar of the excellent Dos Hermanos blog. He very kindly included this blog in his list!

Nice quote from the piece:

Food bloggers are the bane of every restaurant owner’s life — I know, I am one.
Two and a half years ago, when I started my food blog Dos Hermanos with my brother, Robin, we were part of what was a realtively small group of enthusiasts keen to record our cooking and dining habits in words and blurry pictures. Now, at the opening of any new restaurant you will see tables occupied by diners making detailed notes of each bite while snapping away with their cameras before rushing home to pontificate about their meal online.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meeting Jason Korman, the Stormhoek dude

Had a really interesting conversation yesterday evening with Jason Korman, who is one of the dudes who devised the Stormhoek wine brand, with its emphasis on making use of novel 'Web 2.0' marketing. It was Jason who linked Stormhoek up with leading blogger Hugh MacLeod, whose cartoons (example, right) have since become firmly established with the Stormhoek brand. Together, they adopted initiatives such as sending free bottles to 85 leading tech bloggers, and then a well publicized 40% offer with Thresher that went 'viral'.

But then things went a bit 'sideways' with Stormhoek as they ran out of money (cashflow issues) and went into administration. The brand was bought by Origin Wines, and now they are back in business, with Jason and Hugh on board once again.

Our discussion this evening was wide-ranging and provocative. I learned great deal: Jason is an entrepreneurial guy who has some interesting ideas about how to sell wine and engage consumers. It's really helpful to be exposed to fresh thinking like this. I came away thinking 'why not?'

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

In a cafe in Bermondsey

You know, one of the best blogs have an unplanned, dynamic, of-the-moment feel to them. They have a personal voice. They are well written, but not polished. That's what I aspire to. [I'm aware that blogging about blogging is a bit self-referential. Sorry. I shall try not to do it too often.]

I'm sitting in coffee shop in Bermondsey. It's quite trendy, but rough round the edges: one wall is bare breezeblocks, and the ceiling is concrete. A bit like the location, I guess, because Bermondsey has a rough, slightly dangerous edge which fuses well with the impoverished arty crowd.

There's free wifi so the place is full of people like me nursing a cup of coffee and updating their facebook pages, blogging, checking their emails, making use of some down-time. Two people are reading newspapers; the rest are on their laptops. I wonder if some are writing their novels? [Now if you want to get really self-referential and circular, you could write a novel about someone trying to write a novel. How cool is that?] Anyway, I have the smallest laptop (my eeepc). There's one mac; the rest are PCs. The music playing is jangly and alternative poppy.

I've just been to the Sainsbury's press tasting round the corner and I'm due to return to join Tim Atkin to travel over to Shepherd's Bush with him for an Austrian wine dinner. Sainsbury's range is a bit of a curate's egg: some good stuff, but also a lot of uninspiring wines. It will be interesting to see how the other supermarkets are doing (their press tastings will be over the next few weeks) to see whether this inconsistency is across the board.

What's your coffee order? I used to just do Americano (or long black, depending on where you are ordering), but now I'm alternating this with Latte - this was because of the excellent experience I had at Flat White, the kiwi coffee shop in London. But I'm not a coffee geek. For me, coffee is as much a psychological sort of event as it is a flavour experience. Even instant coffee will do the trick - a cup of coffee is a punctuation mark in a busy day. It is something you do with other people, too - a bridging event. While it's great to have good coffee, bad coffee will do, some of the time, at least.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Two wine blogs of note

Two blogs I've recently stumbled on and which I think deserve a plug:

1. Winosapien (http://wino-sapien.blogspot.com/), which contains the thoughtful musings of a wine-loving doctor from Australia.

2. Domaine David Clark (http://www.domainedavidclark.com/blog.html), which contains insight into the life of a Scottish-motor-racing-engineer-turned-vigneron in Burgundy.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wine and Spirit magazine on 'how the internet transformed wine'

Tasting at the IWC today, where the rather congenial panel I was on awarded many silvers, even more bronzes, but no gold medals. We didn't even come close to gold, alas, although I found one wine that I rated as gold in the last flight of the day. It was a stunning Cotes du Rhone Villages that was modern-styled, with dense fruit, but a lovely freshness, too. My panel thought it was 'jammy', but I reckon 'jammy' should be used to describe wines that have over-ripe, cloying fruit, with no life in it. Maybe they're afraid of fruit when it's this vibrant and exuberant - but this is a wine that I think had more to it than just fruit.

While I was at the IWC I picked up a copy of the excellent Wine and Spirit magazine. It grabbed my attention, because the front cover story is 'Revenge of the nerds: how the internet transformed wine'. It contains two articles on the internet wine scene, the first concentrating on internet-based retailers, and the second on wine bloggers ('Blogging a dead horse', by Claire Hu).

(An online version of the article is here.)

The standfirst sums up the article well. 'Online diarists have opened up new possibilities for wine. But are they still effective - or just open to corruption? Claire Hu investigates.'

Claire's piece is a good one. I'm happy to be quoted, mostly accurately (although she says, incorrectly, that I decided to go full time on my site after being made redundant from my day job - in fact, I'd say about one-quarter of my time is spent on my site - the rest is spent writing for other people and working on projects on a freelance basis). I also feel slightly that she pulled the bits out of our conversation that supported the agenda she had for her piece, which is that the wine blogging world is open to corruption, and that people taking money to review certain products is a big threat to the independence of wine bloggers.

I'm hesitant to say this, lest it give the impression that I think Claire's piece isn't good. I think it is good, and she has done her research properly, and given a good summary of the state of play of wine blogging. But from my perspective, I think the wine blogging community is quite 'pure' in the sense that people are saying what they think rather than answering to advertisers, or even more sinister commercial concerns.

She states that, 'At great risk to himself (imagine hundreds of wine nerds descending on your home), Charles Short of cluelessaboutwine.co.uk, has decided to lift the lid on what he sees as the hijacking of editorial integrity of wine blogs. "You have a lot of wine companies asking if you can write about products for £15 or £50", he says.' Considering Clive's site has an Alexa ranking (for what it is worth) of just shy of 5 million, I assume he's referring to other wine sites that have been approached in this way. I certainly haven't been approached by anyone offering payment for reviews - I'd be interested to know if any of the other wine bloggers with a decent readership have been. If they have, then I take this back. But the way I'm quoted, it makes me sound like I'm losing sleep over the issue of editorial integrity on wine blogs, which I'm not.

But where I'm very happy with the way my views are depicted is in the penultimate paragraph. Yes, I think blogs are a useful communication tool. But I still think there's a place for magazines and books - and an important one at that.

Back to wine. Tonight I'm drinking a lovely Argentinean wine, from the Bonarda grape, which we don't see a lot of, even though there's a lot of it planted there (only recently has Malbec overtaken it). It's a complicated grape to get a handle on: some people think it's the same as Charbono in California; it was brought to Argentina from Italy in the 19th century, but its Italian origins aren't clear.

Familia Zucchardi Bonarda Reserva 2006 Mendoza
A deep-coloured, oak-aged Bonarda weighing in at a modest 13% alcohol. This has an attractive, savoury nose of spicy plummy fruit, which leads to a palate that's dense, savoury and structured. There's plenty of forward red berry, cherry and plum fruit here as well as well integrated oak. Some grippy tannins on the finish make this a useful food wine. Great value for money and really delicious. 88/100 (£6.99 Oddbins)

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wine blogging, looking back

Had a phone call from Claire Hu of Wine and Spirit magazine who is preparing an article on wine blogs. One of the questions she asked was when it was that I began this rather strange practice of keeping an online journal, otherwise known as blogging. The answer is - a surprisingly long time ago.

The very first entry was on July 12th 2001 - you can access it here at the bottom of the page. The first photos didn't appear until December 26th 2002, which is when I got my first digital camera, and adding pictures to blog entries became practical. [See the archive for more entries.]

The blog moved to its current home in January 2006.

Tonight I'm off to a Spanish wine dinner, which I'm led to believe is black tie. I need to confirm this - wouldn't it be horrible to turn up in a dinner jacket and bow tie when everyone else is wearing something altogether more casual. And, for the record, day 2 of freelance life has been a gentle one: I finished an Express column, did some sorting in my office, checked my emails, wrote a blog entry and went for a walk with Fiona and RTL to Richmond Park, where we lunched on some fabulous steak pasties.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Facebook friends

I now have a staggering total of 10 http://www.facebook.com/ friends. Wanna be my friend? You only have to ask!

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Procrastination, and wild rock rocks!

One of the features of the broadband internet age is that there are now 1001 ways to procrastinate. Never before has it been so easy to put off doing proper work by hopping over to check the BBC news site, or waste time on facebook or flickr, pick up emails yet again, or just generally arse around on various blogs and internet sites.

At least in the age of dial-up it cost money to stay online, and getting online was a mild hassle so you just collected your messages a few times a day. 'Always on' connections make this sort of discipline difficult. I find that to work effectively, it takes me perhaps five minutes to get in the zone, and maybe another 10 to function really efficiently. So if I'm continually replying to emails, or browsing, then it's much harder to achieve the state of maximum productivity. So I'm going to make a pledge to procrastinate less over the next month. [Heck, now this is beginning to sound like one of those awful 'work more efficiently in the information age' blogs...]

Back to wine. Last night, watching City record their their second successive victory of the new campaign on Match of the Day, I opened a Wild Rock Gravel Pit Red 2005. And Wild Rock rocks! (see the tasting note below)

Wild Rock Gravel Pit Red 2005 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
From the Craggy Range stable, this is a blend of Merlot and Malbec from the Gimblett Gravels of Hawkes Bay. It's really impressive: a lovely, well balanced red in a Bordeaux mould. Attractive nose of dark fruits - ripe but still fresh, with a minerally, gravelly edge. Dark, almost brooding palate shows a lovely savoury edge to the spicy dark fruits. Some grippy, spicy tannins on the finish, together with just the faintest hint of animal character, complete this satisfying wine, which is not at all sweet or over-ripe. In its focus and depth, it reminds me a bit of some of the leading Margaret River reds from Australia. 90/100 (£9.99 Waitrose, on offer at £7.49 from 3-30th September 2007)

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Adelaide Hills on Flickr

HPIM1604, originally uploaded by Jamie Goode.

I'm posting this picture directly from Flickr. It's one of the latest batch I put up - a set of pictures from a visit in October 2005 when I was the guest of Brian Croser. Budburst has just occurred.

Note added later: posting straight from Flickr doesn't work because the image size is too large for the page design. I've had to go in later and re-input the image manually. Worth a try.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bits n' pieces

I'm quite tired tonight. I know the internet is a place where you get the chance to present yourself to the world in an ideal state, with all the blemishes airbrushed out - a facebook fantasy - but I need to come clean with you, my readers: I'm very human, with the usual human array of faults and weaknesses, and when I work past midnight over a consistent period (as has been the case of late), I get tired and function less effectively. Some days I feel great; other days I feel a bit weary.

The internet gives us the chance to reinvent ourselves for the outside world. But I reckon that authenticity matters. When you go to the National Gallery, you care about whether you are looking at original paintings or skilled copies. I think it's important that when you blog, your readers aren't presented with a version of you that is sanitized and highly filtered. Of course, some filtering is necessary - it would be a horrifying prospect for you and me if I were to write an uncensored account of what goes on in my head. As with newspapers, though, it's important the coverage here isn't too skewed by an agenda - in this case, an attempt to present a 'perfect' Jamie Goode to the world. I try not to write for effect - I write as I feel.

Tonight I'm sampling some bits and pieces. I started off with Asda Lambrusco Emilio Rosso, which isn't all that authentic, I suspect, but still quite tasty. Grapey and sweet, with a real sense of fun. I'd love to serve this to a wine geek party, matched with the right sort of food.

Next, an ambitious Chilean. Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Reserva Privada 2005 (£8.99 Morrisons, on offer at £6.99 for a month) is quite good: it's dense, with ripe, pastille-edged blackcurrant fruit and some spiciness, with good acidity and only a little greenness. Nice definition here.
But my focus for the evening is one of Portugal's best whites. Malhadinha Nova Branco 2006 Alentejo is a blend of Antao Vaz, Chardonnay and Arinto, fermented in new oak (mainly French). It's a mutlilayered melange of grapefruit, lemon, herbs, citrus pith, melon and subtle spicy oak, with a lovely broad texture. Verging on the profound; modern but good. There's a lot going on here.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Aren't blogs wonderful?

Blogs are great. I love them. I really enjoy doing this blog, and it's a real bonus that so many read it. I feel lucky.

One of the things that makes it fun is the functionality of modern blogging software - I use blogger, which has the advantage that it publishes onto my web server, while not requiring installation as a program on my webserver (if you see what I mean...I'm not expressing myself very clearly, am I).

What this means is that all I have to do is fire up a window in my browser (currently IE, but I've been experimenting a bit with Safari), type away, upload images, and all the rest is taken care of, including the powerful labelling feature (which groups posts by topic). Flickr now manages my images with similar functionality. I may even switch my email to my google mail account, although this is a bit more complex for various reasons.

The way we work on the web is changing, and I might soon have to think about redesigning wineanorak so that the blog can be integrated more seamlessly with the rest of the site, and the site content managed a little more automatically. I haven't done any significant redesign of the site since I launched it in its current format in 2000. There are lots of options, and it's all very exciting. Still, the focus must be on better and more content.

Tonight, two more wines from the Malhadinha Nova stable.

Monte da Peceguina Branco 2006 Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal
Quite a deep yellow colour. Ripe herb, melon and wet stone nose leads to a full flavoured palate with a fresh mineral streak underneath the rich, warm, herb and straw fruit. This is quite a striking full flavoured white that's food friendly. There's a whack of alcohol on the finish, but it's not completely out of place. A fairly serious effort from a region not known for its whites. 88/100

Malhadinha Nova Pequeno Joao 2005 Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal
In a 50 cl bottle, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Aragones and Syrah, foottrodden in lagares and raised in new French oak. A very deep colour, this wine bears the hallmarks of the drought 2005 vintage, with great concentration, high alcohol (15%) and plenty of structure. It has a powerful, almost overwhelming nose of pure red and black fruits, together with some spiciness and tarry new oak. There's almost a saltiness on the palate, sitting under the multilayered dark fruits and spicy oak. It's hard to say where this wine is going: I reckon it needs some time to settle down, and then will develop nicely into a warm, complex wine. Hard to drink at the moment, such is its intensity. 92/100 (but this could change...)

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Flickr rocks!

I've been playing with flickr, and as someone here commented a while back, it's quite addictive. I've now shelled out US$24.95 on a year's subscription to the Pro version, and have been busy uploading pictures onto my page. There's a nifty uploading tool called 'Flickr Uploadr', which is recommended.

I've now got all my Douro pictures online, a collection that numbers 245. There's also a collection of 'wine people', which I've shared with a group of the same name set up by Jim Budd. It's a great utility, and I'll be adding more pics over the coming weeks. There must be a way of integrating the flickr pictures with my website. I need to explore.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

On blogging

Some late-night thoughts on blogging. I've been reading a lot of blogs recently. It seems that every website now *has* to have a blog, whether it's a winery, a magazine, a merchant or an agent. Somebody gets lumped with the job of blogging, or more commonly a team of people are required to provide the content. While I'm fully convinced about the effectiveness of the blog as a communication medium, I'm frequently underwhelmed by the blogs out there. Most of them just don't work. Why?

1. A blog has to have a voice. Multi-author blogs frequently lack this.
2. Content: what is written has to be interesting. It has to engage the reader. For this to happen, a blogger has to have something to say, which means that the blogger in question has to be a bit of a thinker.
3. Style: for a blog to be interesting, it has to be well written. Most people can't write. Writing can't really be taught, although people who can write can be trained to write better. Remember: just because you are smart, or because you are important, it doesn't mean you can write.
4. Conversation: blogs are about conversations with the readers. Most blogs from companies fail here: the authors are writing largely for their employers, not for their readers. There's a lack of genuine communication.
5. Disclosure: your readers need to get to know you. I guess this overlaps with (1). I'm probably not so good with this one. I'd like to disclose more about who I am and what makes me tick, but it feels a bit risky on a publically visible platform such as this.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

More from wineterroirs

One blog I really enjoy reading is Bertand Celce's wineterroirs. For those of you who haven't visited, this report on a visit to Domaine Mosse is a good example of the sort of thing Bertrand writes. He has a good eye, writes sympathetically but still dispassionately, and has an interest in 'authentic' wines.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Eric Asimov salutes internet wine geeks

Really nice piece by NY Times wine writer Eric Asimov on the influence of internet wine geeks in celebrating diverse wines. He even uses the term 'spoofulated'.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Where's the wine gone?

I really should plan my blogging better. Readers will be wondering where the wine has gone, with all this talk about beer, cider, dogs and holidays. The thing is, I reckon blogging has a more genuine voice if it is done spontaneously, in the moment, rather than being systematically planned, with entries lined up in advance.
I'm also more keen on single user blogs, although this makes blogging difficult for organizations who say 'we must have a blog', but then find that their people with the ability to make interesting comments are too busy to blog frequently enough to make the blog work.
Their solution is to have a multi-author blog, but I've rarely found one that works - the strength of a blog is that it is a single voice. You have a connection with the author that is hard to maintain across several authors. Anyway, here's another post about beer.

Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted Blond Beer, Alva, Scotland
Apparently, this attractive beer is made with three hop varieties: the aromatic Hallertau Horsbrucker, the spicy Challenger and a late hopping with Styrian Goldings. It's a pale colour and has lovely bitter, slightly zesty flavours. It's nicely savoury and hoppy with a pleasant rounded mouthfeel. I like it a lot. Available from Waitrose for the usual sort of beer price (£1.69? £1.89?).

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hugh on the Stormhoek experience

'A-list' blogger Hugh MacLeod has this to say about his experience with Stormhoek, the South African wine brand that has made innovative use of the hi-tech blogging community in promoting its wines. There are some good observations, including the following.
"Most wine is bought by ordinary folk. Most of them are women. Most choose the wine because they like the label. Most couldn't give a hoot about 'terroir' or country of origin. Most won't spend more than $10. And that, my friends, is the market I am in. Sure, the male-dominated, over-fifty-dollar 'snob' market might be a good wee business to be in for some folk, but be warned: it's a surprisingly tiny niche."

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bertrand Celce's blog

Just a plug for Bertrand Celce's blog 'wine terroirs', and an article on Paris wine shops that he's recently posted. I enjoy browsing through his entries - in fact, they make me a little jealous of Parisians who are so well supplied with fantastic artisanal French wines at remarkably affordable prices. It makes the world of Californian cult Cabs and mailing lists look all the more absurd in juxtaposition. What do you prefer? Wine as conspicuous consumption, or wine with a soul?

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A new book project and cheese

Tripped off to Islington today to visit MQ Publications. I'm going to be doing a book with them, on wine, but not as you know it. The team there have come up with a brilliant idea for a wine book that isn't like other wine books, and is of general appeal. Yvonne Deutsch, who will edit the project, has some wonderful ideas and will be a hands on editor - it will be fun working with someone who wants to have some creative input in the project. Will share more details when it's the right time. One of the MQP people who has been advocating this project strongly is Simon Majumdar, who is a bit of a wine nut. He has an excellent foodie blog, which can be found at http://www.majbros.blogspot.com/.

This evening I supped on Comte cheese and a fantastic bread (ancienne) from Villandry, which at £2 is an expensive loaf. But consider that crap plastic bread costs £0.70 a pop, then this - one of the best breads I've had - is a total bargain.
Washed down with several wines, including three of the remarkable Simcic whites (from Slovenia), which see extended skin contact - this makes them a little tannic. They're weird by modern standards, but I like them a lot. I'd love to make a wine that's a blend of red and white grapes, treated like a red wine with maceration on skins, and with balance achieved not by blending but in the fermenter.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Monty gets a five-for

Amazing. Monty Panesar, ignored for the first two test matches (for those who haven't got a clue what I'm on about, I'm talking about the sport of Cricket, and England versus Australia, otherwise known as the Ashes), has taken what the Aussies call a five-for, as England skittled the Aussies out for 244. England finished 51-2 in reply. Whether or not England capitalize on this probably depends on how KP and Freddie feel - if they play well, we could walk away with this. If they fail, then we could end up looking at a first-innings deficit. It's wide open.

The blogging phenomenon has caught on to the extent that it's now part of the BBC coverage of the Ashes series. Most of the entries aren't that gripping, though. It goes to show that blogging well is an art - one that I'm trying my best to learn.

On the subject of blogging, there's a BBC news article looking at some predictions made by technology group Gartner on the future of blogging. They reckon that during the middle of 2007 the number of blogs will level out at about 100 million, and maintain that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs. One of their experts suggests:
"Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they're put on stage and asked to say it."

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Wine Library TV

Got an email from Gary Vaynerchuk alerting me to the fact that he'd included this blog in a segment on his latest Wine Library TV show here. I've only seen a couple of his videos, but I'm impressed. He's got a good approach to wine and makes the difficult job of talking to camera about wine tasting look relatively effortless. Overall: an effective use of the internet as a medium for publishing wine information. Maybe I should start including videos here? What would you like to see?

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Monday, December 04, 2006

bits and pieces

Just received my copy of The Wine Diet, a new book by Professor Roger Corder. Unlike most books on diet it's actually written by a proper scientist, which augurs well for the accuracy of its content. However, Corder has a stake in this debate because he has discovered one of the potential links between wine and health, and he may overplay this hand because of it. We'll see - I'll report back when I've done some reading.

Also received a sample bottle of the Red Heart wine referred to here a few days back. It's a full-throttle, ripe Aussie red with a distinctive blackcurrant flavour, and some nice chunky tannins. For a £5 wine it tastes pretty good. It reminded me strongly of a Chilean Cabernet or Carmenere, with a little bit of greenness behind the powerful sweet fruit.

Still on the subject of health I went to see a doctor over the weekend about my right elbow. It makes a funny crunching noise when I use it. Has done ever since I mashed it up in a fall a few years back. When I swim, play golf or play tennis, it gets quite sore. So I tell the doctor this (a charming young South African guy). He looks at my notes. 'You're almost 40', he says. 'You aren't as young as you used to be'. Is there anything he can do for me, or advise me to do? 'Use it less,' is the response. 'If you play golf every week, play it once a month'. Hmmm. Don't like the sound of this.

Got my first Christmas card today. It's a big (25 x 18 cm) card from Casa Lapostolle with a picture of their immaculate barrel cellar. Not signed by anyone. Posted from Chile.

Aside: Blogger (which I use to publish this blog) is a real pain at the moment. Its image upload feature only works about one attempt in three. It has problems publishing posts perhaps one attempt in 12. Not good enough.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006


Just got a press release from Sainsbury's which described Christopher Burr's new venture, secret sommelier, as the UK's most popular fine wine blog. This surprises me: its Alexa ranking as I write is 4,388,364 (see www.alexa.com).


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Google for 'wine'

Google results depend on where you are looking from. As of today, typing wine into google.co.uk lists wineanorak as eighth (first among content sites, nearest competitors wineint.com and wine-pages.com), but fourth when you restrict the search to the UK (first among content sites; nearest competitors are wineint.com and thewinedoctor.com). I'm sure searching from other countries would give different results, and I don't know how these search rankings are calculated. But it's nice to be visible.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Ehrlich's best wine blogger

Richard Ehrlich recently reviewed the wine blogosphere in The Independent, and had some nice things to say about this blog:
"The best wine blogger, for my money, is the UK's own Jamie Goode, at www.wineanorak.com/blog. Goode combines technical expertise with vivid accounts of his travels and a nice bit of personal history besides - though he doesn't
overdo his own presence in his writing, as so many bloggers do."
Sadly, it was Richard's last column. I don't know whether he jumped or was pushed, or even whether he will be replaced.

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