It’s a bit strange referring to Naked Wines as a wine importer. The more I work with them, the more I realize they have many many roles in the wine trade. Calling them a wine importer almost feels like I’m neglecting their role as retailers, financers, communicators, and innovators. Some of the projects described in Elin’s article like the MarketPlace can’t be classified as a traditional ecommerce site. Naked isn’t buying wine and then selling it. They’re instead providing a platform where other people can sell their products like eBay or GroupOn. If this project succeeds and draws enough attention, it could totally marginalize the import and retail side of the business.
Anyway, it’s always fun talking to journalists about Naked Wines because they’re constantly trying new things. So every interview, there’s a slough of new questions and answers. I never get bored! 😀
I met Elin last October at the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference and she got to taste some of my wines back then.
She had this section in her article about O’Vineyards:
Joe, Ryan, and Liz O’Connell at their winery Domaine O’ Vineyards in Cabardes, France. The O’Connells, from Florida, purchased the vineyard in 2004, and their cabernet-merlot blend Trah Lah Lah has won fans among Naked Wines’ Angels. Source: O’Vineyards via Bloomberg
At the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Vienna, Elin McCoy spoke to us all about the future of the Ivory Tower wine critic. It was a keynote so we all got to sit in for the speech which addressed the rising number of voices in wine journalism and the effect that has on the old guard. Robert Parker got named specifically. (edit: I should mention that Elin knows her stuff. She literally wrote the book on Robert Parker.)
And Jim Budd uncovered an interview that Parker was doing just a week or so before where he shares his own views on the “white noise” generated by Internet wine writers. So this is a topical question being pondered around the world and it’s not limited to 200 wine geeks in Austria.
“”Taste a little less; think a little more.””
Obviously, there was a lot of content to Elin’s speech, but I’ll focus on one key point that I think is getting overlooked in some of the recaps. Elin specifically defines the Ivory Tower critic as somebody who stays far away from production. They sit in a tower and taste. Now, she picks Robert Parker as a sort of icon of this style, but Bob still does travel to wineries (and he did this a TON when he first started). But she harps on him because his style is sort of characterized by focusing on tasting notes and points.
I feel torn because I wholeheartedly agree that the wine world is overly focused on the retail/consumer end of things. But does my opinion actually matter? I left my life in the states, bought a vineyard, and live and breathe wine all day (as fanatical a wine nerd as it gets) so what I like in wine writing doesn’t necessarily correspond to your average consumer. Aren’t publications that focus on tasting notes more useful to the average wine drinker?
Most people who enjoy an episode or two of Love That Languedoc aren’t always going to be able to go out and buy the bottles I’m tasting on the show. They might go out and try another Languedoc-Roussillon wine that is available, but my website cannot be considered a useful consumer guide. Instead it’s more of a regionally themed travel rag. Something that gives behind the scenes access and can make them dream a bit. Is this useful? Does this model even compete with the Ivory tower critic or consumer advocate?
Hell, is the Wine Advocate even an ivory tower publication? I understand David Schildknecht (who tastes Languedoc Roussillon for the Wine Advocate) is coming to the Languedoc this December [edit: he’s not coming til spring], as he does every couple of years. So if there is an ivory tower, he’s obviously not in it all the time. It remains to be seen if he’ll come all the way out to Carcassonne to visit me, but the point is he’s visiting somebody.
Elin McCoy got us all thinking when she proposed that the Internet’s many voices will usher in a new era of wine journalism focused on getting dirty and really getting involved in every part of wine. I hope this is true, because I’m like the exact opposite of an ivory tower critic (using her definition). I live in the mud with the winemakers, making the stuff. My writing and videos are unpolished and barely edited. So I hope to god she’s right–that people really want this uninhibited sort of wine story-telling. But I don’t know that I’m in direct competition with more practical published tasting notes and consumer guides. I bet there’s a place for everybody in this world.
And a lot of people will enjoy looking up to whatever towers are erected. If you don’t believe me, check out Suckling’s new teaser which is literally just a montage of him scoring wines.
But then maybe his “I’m Here” video montage is an attempt to tear down the ivory tower stereotype. 😀
I am finally back in the comfort of my own winery after a long and wonderful trip to Paris and Vienna. The European Wine Bloggers’ Conference was an absolute blast. The word for the week was overwhelming. Lots of wine, lots of learning, lots of laughing, lots of beauty. Everything was just wonderful.
I guess we should break this up into multiple posts because the trip was sooo varied and momentous.
Alright, an ongoing series on the EWBC 2010 in Vienna and the surrounding Austrian wine country. As the series goes on, I’ll update this post to be a sort of index or table of contents for the EWBC posts, photos and links.
Keynotes and Tastings that virtually everybody did:
Other pertinent, less insane articles about the EWBC:
Mr. Payton goes to Washington.. err .. Parliament in Vien. This is a really ingenious piece where Ken Payton visits the Austrian parliament without an appointment (or any idea of who he even wants to talk to) and asks if anybody can help him learn about Austrian wine law. I wish I had ideas like this.
Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing
North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910
Best by GPS.
Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.