Archive for the ‘Rating Wine’ Category

Dec 24, 2013

The State of the Wine Media—2013

I’m a fairly close observer of what we have come to call “The Wine Media”. My 20+ years observing the writing and reporting of all things wine, and any expertise I’ve accumulated as a result, is part of what I offer my clients—who hire me and keep me around in part because I’m a fairly reliable analyst of the wine media. I make a living understanding the wine media, how it works, what it wants and who reads it. Me…

Nov 5, 2013

The Wine Organizing Principle: First Varietal, Then Terroir

If a Sonoma Pinot Noir tastes much more like a Burgundy Pinot Noir than it does a Sonoma County Zinfandel, isn’t this a very strong argument for making varietals the organizing idea behind wine? This is the question that occurred to me when I read Andrew Jefford’s article in Decanter that made the opposite case. Jeffords, who is a very clear-headed, succinct and thoughtful writer, gave us the money quote to his argument early in the article when he wrote…

Oct 17, 2013

The Key Difference Between Wine Reviewers and Book Reviewers

Reading a series of book reviews by literary critics recently, it dawned on me that compared to wine critics, these literary pros and other types of professional critics have it tough, at least in terms of how much work they have to put in to completing their tasks. Put another way, it doesn’t take much time to produce a wine review. Wine critics out there, don’t get angry with me about this. Consider what must be done for a literary…

Oct 2, 2013

Reaching for Everything In Wine: Vintage Hugh Johnson

The first edition of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book I ever picked up was the 1987 edition. Hugh had already been writing the annual guide for ten years. This year’s 2014 edition of the ubiquitous handbook is his 37th edition. For a number of years, the Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine Book was indispensable as a quick guide to the most important wineries (along with the author’s opinions of them), the basics of the world’s varied wine regions, reports on recent…

Sep 30, 2013

How To Understand Really Stupid Wines

The wine was a 2006 Grenache from the Barossa Valley in Australia.  It clocked in at 18.5% alcohol. It was carried to me by a good Aussie friend who purchased it in New York. The wine was absurd in every respect—in its size, in its lopsided nature and in its imposing heat. The alcoholic mask worn by this wine was complete in every way. What lurked underneath the heat was a blueish fruit. But it was hard to either notice…