That a week it was. Sexism and misogyny? Sure. That Forbes interview went up as a response to a supposedly ‘satirical’ piece penned by Ron Washam. It created quite the Twitter-storm. Then fever. Conjunctivitis. This all went down immediately after landing from a brilliant few days in Europe. Let’s go back there, when times were more carefree and productive.
First there were two reacquainting nights in Paris. I hadn’t been in ten months which is like ten years for me. Then it was on to Liège for a think tank of winners of the Born Digital Awards. My first day I took Meininger’s Wine Business International editor-in-chief Felicity Carter on a wine bar search. It was a bank holiday, and everything was closed except for one place, a cocktail lounge, Moment.
Overjoyed that the gate said opening at 5, we went in search for coffee while waiting for the green light. Once caffeinated, we were rewarded with a bottle of (off-dry) 2015 Premices from Domaine de Bellivière. The woman who took care of us was Georgian and begged us to go to her boyfriend’s place, Le Danieli, where she promised I’d love the list. Alas, it couldn’t happen, too much conferencing to get to. But the next time you are in that part of Belgium, remember those addressed. Also remember cheese: Le Hervé du Vieux Moulin. It’s Belgium’s answer to Époisses and so much more delightful.
But about our two days of cloistered conversations. The second day, as we got to know each other better, many of the conversations became heated. There we were, a combination of marketers, writers, editors. Conversations were stimulating. And I loved the challenge of the “What Ifs.” Such as what if there were no wine writers? Just think of that one. Tweeting it out raised plenty of fur. The idea came from the notion that wine publicists kind of think they own wine writers and the long history of pay for play. You write about me, you get the plum invitations. You ignore me, well, your name falls off the media list.
I started to wonder, what if everyone chose not to play. If all wine writers went on strike, if the industry had to deal with the reality of not having writers to spread their message? Well, when writers started to write again, would the terms be more honest and would there be less of a feeling of ownership by the ‘industry?’ The conversations are being documented over at Medium, so head there if you want to continue the conversation.
On our last night, we bought several bottles at a newly opened shop, Les Vintrépides, and the damn hotel wouldn’t let us drink them in style. So we stole some glasses and headed up to Ryan Opaz’s room. Here I’m slinging some Marcel Joubert (2016) and Ryan delighted us with some Antonio Madeira.
What have I been reading? Thanks for asking. Felicity Carter’s brilliant essay on writing. Sally Rooney’s Normal People. Howard Rodman’s first novel, Great Eastern, which is very Jules Verne meets Herman Melville. Yes, the bar is high. Howard, if you know him at all, rises to it. (FYI, I first met Howard when he reached out to me on Twitter circa 2005 when he was filming Savage Grace in Barcelona. He needed—what else?—wine advice. We’ve been friends ever since.)
Also, my story on natural wine in Chile is out in AFAR magazine. Outtakes and more, more, more, coming right up in TFL. Natural Wine For the People. I’m not going to let you forget to buy it! It’s just about out, August 6th. And who knows, come August I might be signing in a city near you.
So, here you go, in honor of the solstice, just the wines. Pay heed to the one sparkler. It might be just the one you want for a knock it back refresher. More coming soon!
I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.