Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Blog Year in Review and Foreshadowings of 2012

This was a very satisfying year as I endeavored to share my learnings on wine and the wine world, colored as it is by my Orlando domicile.  It was satisfying because: (i) I exit the year knowing more about wine than I did at the beginning (yet this is but a drop in the bottomless wine-knowledge bucket); (ii) I secured my WSET Level 3 certification; (iii) I have been enriched by meeting and interacting with wine lovers from all corners of the world; and (iv) I have been able, through the platform that this blog provides, to share my experiences and learnings with other inquisitive wine lovers from around the world.

Over the course of the year I have put pen to paper (or, more correctly, fingers to keyboard) 91 times (an average of 7.58 times per month, 1.75 times per week) to write posts of interest to me.  My posts were concentrated in the following broad categories (ranked by frequency): wine regions; wine tastings; wine culture; book reviews; and soils.  Posts not falling into one of these categories are lumped into a catch-all called "other."

I have always sought -- without reward -- a single source for comprehensive information on global wine regions.  In order to fill this perceived need, I have been writing periodical posts on wine regions associated with stories I am already covering. My hope is that this will allow me to build a substantial wine region data base over the course of a number of years.  The table below shows the wine regions covered in this blog this year listed in order of appearance (See the tab above for the wine regions covered over the life of the blog). The Douro region stood out for me based on its antiquity, its beauty, and the extreme environment in which grapes are grown for the production of quality wine.

I attended a number of wine tastings during the course of the year, but, for the most part, only wrote extensively about sit-down affairs.  The table below shows the wine tasting events that were covered by the blog.  As can be seen, our group does not sit around waiting for formal organizations to take the lead in putting on tastings.  We follow our taste buds.  The La Mission tasting was impressive, held as it was at London's Trinity House and presided over by HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg (President of Domaine Clarence Dillon) and Jean-Philippe Delmas (Estate Manager).  The 13-vintage Dominus tasting was held in less-impressive surroundings but the number of times that this post has been read is a testament to the esteem in which this label is held.

Prompted by an article in the Huffington Post that took the position that American wine culture was on the ascendancy -- due to the fact that our wine consumption had surpassed that of the French -- I wrote a piece titled The Myth of an American Wine Culture which argued that, based on the anthropological definition of culture, we lacked a true wine culture.  An Inside IWM blog post took me to task slightly for my conclusion and this fueled a number of articles further detailing my thoughts on an American wine culture, the movement towards a global wine drinking architecture, and several posts on the demise of the French wine drinking culture and potential solutions to the malaise.  I found the research in this area fascinating and hope to further leverage my anthropological background to do additional work in this area in 2012.

I reviewed four books this year (Passion of the Vine, Wine Drinking Culture in France, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, and A Toast to Bargain Wines) and, while each affected me in its own way, I was most influenced by Wine Drinking Culture in France.  This book, as stated in my review, "is a dense, scholarly effort which ... utilizes disciplines as diverse as sociology, political science, philosophy, law, and consumer market research to lay out a framework and context for a French wine drinking culture and its evolution through the years."  The principles and arguments contained in this book informed my views on wine drinking architectures and cultures and the demise of the French wine drinking culture.  See the tab above for all of my Book Reviews.

An article on the differences between forests grown on sedimentary and non-sedimentary bedrock appeared in the September 1 issue of Nature.  The authors attributed this difference to the release of trapped nitrogen from the sedimentary bedrock during normal weathering processes and this led to my proposition that a number of the great vineyards in the world could have been unknowing beneficiaries of this phenomenon.  The research requirements associated with this post sparked an interest in the role of soils in wine grape production and led to two subsequent posts on the topic as well as development of a soils-type page on this site.  I expect to continue exploration of this topic in 2012.

During the course of the year I made four wine-oriented trips to Europe that provided valuable source material for 2011 posts.  Early in the year I travelled to London for the Institute of Masters of Wine La Mission Haut-Brion vertical tasting and while there interviewed Sarah Kemp, Decanter Publishing Director.  In early summer I visited Tuscany with Bordeaux Index and while there visited Montalcino and Bolgheri, after having feasted within the hallowed Florentine walls of Enoteca Pinchiori.  In late summer I visited Porto and the Douro wine region with Decanter followed by an early fall trip to the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Brescia, Italy.  The post-conference trip to Friuli-Venezia Giulia informed much of my late-year postings.  I expect to continue to source material from Europe in the upcoming blog year with the 2012 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Turkey already on my agenda.  Given this region's potential position as the home of wine, I expect to be posting a few articles on vitis vinifera and the origins of wine in 2012.

My "Occupy" moment this year centered around the battle to change the requirements for Rosso di Montalcino.  The Brunello Consorzio had proposed the changes and called for a vote.  A number of voices were raised in opposition to the proposal and I lent my voice to the cause. I had an overwhelming sense of relief when Brunello producers voted down the proposal.

Bye bye 2011.  Seemed like you just got here.  Gone too soon.

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