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Savoring Wine Through Social Mediums
I am @wineguru. That's on Twitter. Over at Facebook, I appear as myself. And in this medium, of course, I am the "Wine Talk" columnist.
The face of wine journalism and criticism has changed, and I would argue for the better. The days of one or two loud voices (such as Robert Parker and Wine Spectator) dominating the debate are long past.
Social media, wine blogs, telephone apps and the disparate voices of the Internet are all in play and now part of the wine discussion, particularly on the subject of wines we like or don't like.
Robert Parker and Jim Laube (main California scribe for Wine Spectator) like bold, ripe red wines and you don't? No problem. There are a number of expert commentators who are in your camp (Stephen Brook of Decanter or Dan Berger of Vintage Experiences come to mind), and they can point you in the direction of superb wines that match your tasting preferences.
The beauty of the Internet and social media is that these divergent voices are now at your fingertips. The tech savvy wine lover needs nothing more than a smart phone or laptop to connect with many of the finest minds and palates in professional wine criticism, as well as the growing legions of wine enthusiasts who use blogs, Twitter and Facebook to share their most recent experiences.
For what it's worth, here are some of the Internet presences that I find stimulating enough to visit with some frequency:
Bruce Schoenfeld (www.bruceschoenfeld.com) was a sportswriter, like me, before he turned to writing about wine. He spent time with Wine Spectator and has written for numerous other national publications. Bruce is extremely insightful and his travels bring him into frequent contact with some of the most compelling personalities in the wine business. It makes for fascinating reading.
Natalie MacLean (www.nataliemaclean.com) has the wine view from a Canadian perspective. She's remarkably well-rounded, dispensing recipes and perfect pairings as well as sage wine advice. Natalie's a strong presence on Twitter, too, and can be counted upon for daily suggestions that are hot off the press.
The Wine Curmudgeon (www.winecurmudgeon.com) is wine columnist Jeff Siegel of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, and he's really not much of a curmudgeon. Mild-mannered Jeff is one of the most open-minded "experts" I know and he's especially fond of serving up great value wines to his followers.
W.R. Tish (www.wineforall.com) is the champion of the everyman wine lover, and he takes umbrage with the hierarchy of wines as established by the 100-point scale. Of course, I disagree with "Tish" on the value and validity of the wine ratings, but I find his frequent rants on the subject entertaining and enlightening, even if I'm at odds with his conclusions. Tish also has a fine palate and is usually in front of emerging wine tasting trends.
Jo Diaz (www.wine-blog.org) is from the wine public relations field, yet she is as free and independent as any wine journo! Jo would do her blog, even if she wasn't in the biz because she simply loves wine and the culture of wine as a lifestyle.
Alder Yarrow (www.vinography.com) is a blogger whose primary interest in wine is from the consumer standpoint. He takes edgy positions and is frequently and refreshingly critical of the wine industry. Sometimes I agree, sometimes not. He also takes his shot at mainstream wine critics from time to time, and that's perfectly fair, even though I frequently disagree. But he will certainly make you think.
Nick Passmore (www.nickonwine.com) writes a regular wine column for Business Week and also contributes to other national publications. He's a transplanted Brit with a witty, dry sense of humor and a penchant for eclectic wines that will surely keep you scrambling just to find them. But it will be worth the effort!
Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value.
Vale do Bomfim 2007 Douro, Portugal ($12) — This would be a red wine to buy by the case, if you could only find it by the case. So far, the red table wines of Portugal have been slow to catch on for the American consumer, but in today's value-conscious environment it should only be a matter of time before savvy wine buyers realize some of the Portuguese reds, particularly from the Douro Valley, are amazing for the price. The Douro is renowned for its Port wines, but it's increasingly moving in the direction of dry table wines. The vineyards are mature and the grape varieties (Touriga Nacional, Touriga Roriz, Touriga Franca, etc. ) sufficiently interesting to make table wines of distinction. The Vale do Bomfim delivers complex aromas of blackberry, spice and dried herbs, a long, juicy palate and beautifully integrated tannins. Rating: 88.
Paul Roger Brut Reserve White Foil, Champagne, France ($45) — I would be the first to admit there's nary an offering from Pol Roger that I don't find scintillating. This Epernay-based Champagne house has a long track record of producing elegant, sophisticated bubbly that reminds all Champagne enthusiasts that there is no other breed of sparkling wine that is quite like Champagne. The Pol Roger Brut Reserve "White Foil" is a superb non-vintage Champagne that delivers creamy texture and heady aromas with the sort of steely backbone that ensures long life. Attractive nuances of white peach, honey and brioche are the consistent characteristics that have made this one of my preferred non-vintage bruts through the years. Rating: 91.
Silverado 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($45) — This wine has been an old friend over the years, consistently satisfying and relatively modestly priced for a Napa Valley Cabernet from a top-drawer winery. On the palate, it is rich and smooth without the sweet, jammy character that is so much in vogue throughout Napa today. Aromas of plum, dried herbs and mocha are beautifully nuanced and play nicely off the well-integrated oak. The finish is long and inviting. Rating: 90.
To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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