I am not a wine guru. I am no wine expert.
All I am is a student of REAL wine.
I’m taking a test everyday I taste, write or think about wine. I’ll keep you posted with the results.
The Passionate Foodie recently posted a challenge to all wine bloggers to step their game up. To sum it up, there is a dilemma for wine bloggers:
There are a million and one wine blogs out there. Why does your blog deserve readership?
Evil Bottle responded with a powerful and insightful perspective on this dilemma. I raise a glass of REAL wine to them, for they served as inspiration for what is written below. Read their blogs, they deserve your attention.
I ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE
I will always be a student of REAL wine. Nothing will change on that front. I have a passion for wine which gives me the indispensable starting point for writing about how REAL wine impacts my life and informs my understanding about an artisinal and ecological and land-based lifestyle which is where REAL wine starts.
If this weren’t the case, I wouldn’t continue. Furthermore, I am not my own judge. My oh-so-small contingent of readers are my judges. Please, critique me, converse with me. Support me if you desire, otherwise, I just keep writing because I MUST. This blog is what it is: incipient. It will grow, all the faster with conversation, with comments, with interaction from bloggers and individuals who find something of worth therein.
Wine bloggers are in a unique position. The subject matter which is written about is, by and large, dynamic, subjective and contentious…but only for a small part of the populace, for whom wine is integral part of existence. For a much larger percentage of the populace, wine is not integral. And that is fine. More Rhys, Burlotto, Lafarge, Huet, Fourrier, Prum, Kreydenweisss and d’Angerville for me to write about…
Passion is often mistaken as snobbery, pretension and the like. I’m going to work hard to parse my verbiage out in order to be inclusive BUT I will not dub down something that deserves more. This is not pretention masked as passion, but a reflection upon the dynamic, subjective and contentious matter of REAL wine.
TRAINING, EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE
I’m trained as a Sommelier through the International Sommelier Guild; the only Sommelier certification body that teaches through direct instruction. My teachers were Erica Landon, an important mover and shaker in the Willamette Valley and Portland, OR wine scene. Her and her soon-to-be husband are involved in their own label, Walter Scott Wines. In addition, she is working as an instructor for ISG and running the wine program at Bruce Carey Restaurants. DJ Kearney was my other instructor, a woman who is worldly and wise beyond her years. She is a trained chef, martial artist, wine ninja and a candidate for Master of Wine. She knows wine like no other person I know on a personal basis.
I put my blood, sweat and tears into learning from these women the history, culture and geography of wine, from the roots up to the canopy. I was at the top of my classes but I am more proud of the work I put in and the insights I’ve found are there for the one’s that know where to look. This education led me to begin exploring wine production and since have worked 5 vintages producing wines in different parts of the world.
The efforts I have made since 2009 have deeply informed and inspired me. I am a simply a student of wine, for life and I am at a continuous crossroads. These are my ramblings. It is a journey to define REAL wine, for me. What guides me on my journey towards vinous aesthetics? At this moment in time, these ideals are outlined here. Check back over the next 40 years – I’ll still be writing. My ideals will change and grow. My job focus will change and expand. That is all good. I am open to change.
Those who do not evolve and enchant will be left in the dust of those that do.
PASSION, NOT PRETENSION & EMPTY PROMISES
I’m going to let my passion guide my ramblings. If you find my positions, my ideals, my writing as pretentious or snobby, I’m not sorry that you are misinterpreting the basis of this blog. I write as I write; with extreme fever, with grit, with gall and vigor. Believe me, I can be about as stubborn as an old mule when it comes to wine because I taste 50-100 wines a month, sometimes more, sometimes less. The good bottles are farer and fewer between than the uninspiring. The good ones are harder to find, they are more expensive and they require MORE of me than cheap swill does. But they reward with engagement, with insight. They are not empty promises.
Shit wine is the pretention masquerading as passion. There is nothing engaging when you suffer the consequences of imbibing empty promises, is there?
That is the difference: ENGAGEMENT. What I write about will engage me.
That is my promise to you.
WHAT ENGAGES ME…
There are the bottles that engage you, like a conversation. There are wines that are visceral experiences unto themselves. I put extreme effort into finding these experiences and taking part in the conversation. Liquids like wine can tell a story, if you buy the right bottles and are open to explore the wine with a goal of listening. Some wines sing, some whisper. Some taste of seasons, others invoke the aromas of color. I’m not going to bullshit, I’m going to define what the experience taught me. The good ones sometimes inspire conversation and sometimes leave you speechless. It is dynamic engagement. There are no rules.
This blog is about finding those bottles, listening their stories and writing about it. I’m already searching for REAL wine, to drink, to learn from, to EXPERIENCE. This is my creative outlet on this journey towards vinous aesthetics.
I’m not going to overwrite. I’m not going to underwrite. I’m going to write about wine that inspires me because it MUST be so. I buy the wine. No one sends me samples, I’m not that special. For that matter, I don’t want people to send me samples. I want REAL wine to find me. My eyes and ears are open. I am searching.
REAL wine has the ability to powerfully impact the taster; what I mean by this has less to do with the physical/mental intoxication that comes with consumption as it does to do with the enchantment that a good bottle induces in terms of expression of a sum that is more than the “parts” of the wine. Take Burgundy for example…
What is so special about Burgundy? There was a 2005 Bruno Clair Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques I identified as Burgundy from Gevrey, in a blind tasting in 2010. I listened to the wine and as a result, I was informed. The floodgates opened.
Why Burgundy? Because it always challenges me…the complexity of the flavors and aromas, because the stories of place which are transmitted through the wine are REAL. It isn’t Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, for the most part, that you are experiencing when you drink Burgundy, but you can make it as such.
Or, you can be a witness to the ability of a certain place to imbue a liquid made from grapes grown there to tell a story.
I drink wine because of my love of Burgundy. It is the reason I am a spitfire. I have high standards even though I barely know the heights it attains. I have not had DRC. I know the lows better. Getting to know the lows has made me a better taster.
I drink wine from around the world because I can’t just drink Burgundy. I crave different wines for different reasons and will reason with their expressions with a standard that is dynamic yet remains consistent. You cannot make pronouncements about apples because you care about oranges so much that it clouds your vision about what an apple should be. But the level of complexity that Burgundy attains and the historical genesis of the region serves as a benchmark, in my opinion, for all wine regardless of its origen, no matter the viticultural philosophy, method of production, marketing mumbo-jumbo or score in some publication I rarely find enjoyment in reading.
I do not only taste wine blind. In fact, I wish I did more. Sometimes it is nice to sit down with a bottle of Passetoutgrain you know will put the world away for a few minutes, and enjoy the space, the perspective. But I am no expert, remember? I am just a simple student of REAL wine.
Blind tasting has also made me a better student. It sharpens my wit. It feeds my voracious appetite to test my resolve and further my knowledge. I taste as much as possible blind. Not to be able to call Roulot Aligote, Burlotto Monvigliero or Dagueneau Silex out, but to remove my preconceptions, my bias which will be there if I see the label and know a bit about what the wine SHOULD be like. To challenge my abilities to truely understand wine without knowing what it is that I am tasting. When I remove preconceived notions of what a wine should taste like, I am willing to tasting a wine for what it truly is, in it’s utterly subjective, dynamic and contentious candor. In this way, I am better trained to see the transparency which exists in REAL wine when I find one.
So that’s that.
I MUST continue to write as I am a passionate student of REAL wine. If it informs me on my journey towards Vinous Aesthetics, I will write about the experience. I know there are others out there who want to engage in dialogue about the experience we all seek to gain when REAL wine is on the table.
The community of successful wine bloggers will survive because of growth, evolution and their ability to enchant, one post at a time.
I’m not sure. Time will tell.
I can guarantee that it will ONLY come from a place of informed passion, unslaked thirst and a never-ending hunger for experiencing the multitude of expressions that REAL wine is and always will be.
Can you dig it?