Did you get a gong last week? NO? Can you live with yourself?
January 1. Exclusively for Wine Gang subscribers, Swarovski, the glass crystal manufacturer, designs a crystal ball that allows us to gaze into 2012. Seasoned with a liberal pinch of sea salt, this is what we now know will happen over the coming year:
Can you tell your Babić from your Gegić, your Plavac from your Dingač, or your Pag from your Krk for that matter? Well, forgive us if until this summer we didn’t have a clue that the former three are grape varieties, the latter three locations in the delightful Balkan country known as Croatia. No, of course we knew of Dubrovnik and Split and the devastation caused by the terrible war of independence in the early 1990s. We’d even heard of Modric and Kovac, two of the Croatian footballers who kicked the England football team into touch in the Euro 2008 qualifier in Zagreb.
We mentioned the importance of vintage in our last editorial and how the quality of 2009 in France brought home the excitement of waiting for the new harvest. As 2009 Burgundy drains the last few pennies from our pockets, Bordeaux 2010 is in like Flynn, small but perfectly formed, according to early reports. Raising its head almost indecently quickly, it will soon be challenging us to dig deeper and schmooze ever more insidiously with our bank manager (or anyone for that matter from whom we might beg, steal or borrow) to buy en primeur.
If loyalty in life is underrated, is loyalty in wine the opposite? The fabric of family, social and business life is held together by invisible bonds of love, respect and loyalty. There are many who would argue that loyalty in wine is a virtue too and perhaps, commercially speaking, it is. Loyalty cards reward us for sticking with the company whose products we buy again and again. Brand loyalty is the sine qua non of producers from the great Champagne houses to the mass market enterprises of Europe and the New World.
First the action, then the reaction. Now the interlude before the prices come out. Yes, welcome to the Bordeaux 2009 en primeur circus, ladies and gentlemen. Are you sitting comfortably? I hope so because now that the sound and fury of the tasting week of the new Bordeaux from cask has died down, the curtain is about to rise on the next phase of the action. Yes, the châteaux have shown their wines and the critics have had their say, so it's back to Bordeaux for producers to set their opening prices.
Imagine receiving your 200 Wine Gang notes a month with an omission: the vintage of every wine we write about. How would you feel? Offended? Frustrated at not knowing which vintage to buy? Short-changed? You're by now beginning to get some sense of how readers of Matt Skinner's The Juice 2010 might have felt when they discovered that the publishers, Mitchell Beazley, had listed a number of New World wines from the 2009 vintage that were not tasted by the author, despite his admission in a statement issued by the publisher that it was 'imperative that I taste all the wines that I recommend'.
In the quiet heart of the countryside where I am at the moment, there is no public transport. The only way I can buy a bottle of wine is to get in my car and drive to the nearest town, where I'm faced with the uninspiring selection of my local supermarket. Am I bothered? On the contrary. I have the entire world of wine at the click of a mouse. For the latest information and news, all I have to do is tune into one of the free content sites, click on one of a number of good wine blogs, or, for exchanging views and information, I can 'socially network' on Facebook or Twitter.
'Wine merchants are generally considered very troublesome; but it is a necessary part of this disagreeable trade to be constantly seeking for orders, even among intimate friends and relatives'. Thomas Shaw, 1864.
A warm welcome to all our members.