The role of the wine writer may seem glamorous to some observers and the dream job of many. Who wouldn’t want to get wine for free, go to tastings or even participate in a press trip?. That’s the allure feedback that I get from many consumer acquaintances in my entourage.
In a certain way all of the above is very true. It is very pleasant to drink wine and dine in some of the finest restaurants when a producer comes to town. However, that’s the rosy part. If you’re a serious writer you are required to produce a professional report on the wines that you have tasted or a trip in some cases. It is not mandatory but it’s sort of an unwritten expectations in this business.
That’s the mandate of the role to say the least. Another way of seeing it, it is like preparing a school report or a project. If you care about what you are doing, you want to ace it and impress your professor. In this business, you will be also become a persona non grata very fast if you never write about the stuff that you receive or get invited.
That’s one dimension of the business. Another one less looked is the scope of wine reporting. It is common and quite understandable that some wine bloggers and wine journalists report only about the samples they get. Although, this is ok, it may be very limited coverage. The importers and producers that give free wine are those with usually large advertising budgets. If you want to write about a particular small producers, you have to buy the bottle with your own hard earned dollars.
This is what I call doing the extra mile or being invested. I totally understand that the stuff cost money but if you are really passionate about something, would you not do it? Every month, I spend hundreds of $$$ in wine to have access to the artisanal producers that nobody else talks about it in the mainstream media. At the beginning of my wine career I used to ask those importers for samples and keep hearing the same response: no budget. It took me a while to get over my frustration but finally understood that the small producers and their importers dont have budget to give away free wine. But still, they need to have a voice. Could you imagine if nobody would never talk about those wonderful natural or biological producers. It will be a very sad world.
But then again, there are those who get into this business to have the glamorous life and drink for free and those who are totally indepedent. Then you have people in the middle of the sandwich, like myself, who are able to talk about the small and commercial. I get samples now and then but with the difference that I dont ask anymore. The rest of the wine expense comes out of my pocket. This is the spirit of independence that made Parker famous. Then again, I have a job and can pay myself for the wine. The difference is that I really love wine and sharing my passion with the rest of the word. However, I cant talk about everything that I love because otherwise, I would ruin myself.
The future of this business are for those who are self-financed and passionate about wine. The internet and social media have democratized wine information. In a future that is not too far away, there will no more paid magazines or newspaper with a wide readership. There wil be a sort of natural selection among wine writers. The world is yours if you can only invest yourself in the burning passion
Three wines that no mainstream wine journalist is talking about. All paid with my humble salary:
Domaine La Ferme Saint Martin Les Terres Jaunes 2017 $28.75 ( 12 pack case, Imported by Rezin in Quebec, Canada)
One of the best kept secrets of the Southern Rhone is the appellation of Beaumes-de-Venise and this is a jewel of a producer. Bio since 1998, this wine is not for the faint hearted. Plenty of leafy blackberry fruit with that elusive garrique-pencil shaving with breat taking yet noble tannins.
Anne & Jean-François Ganevat Le Sa Vient d’Où ?. Available at the SAQ ( 14019351) for $54.50
To drink a Ganevat is a privilege and a mind altering experience. One of the luminaries of Jura and the natural wine world, this wine comes from the negoce of the winemaker. Bright and mind boggling aromas of white tea, pineapple water and truffle honey. Incredible purity, grace and precision in the palate. If you are not converted to natural wine, this bottle will do the job. Think about Arnold Layne by Pink Floyd
Domaine de la Roche Bleue Le Clos des Molieres Sec 2016. Imported by Boires in Quebec, Canada for $61. Six pack case, I believe
I was never convinced until I tried this wine of Sebastien Cornille from Jasnieres in the Loire. A pure nose of chalk, acacia with a psychodelic trip into the realm of flowers. Elegance, yet humility. Beautiful. When you drink it, think about the white rabbit song by Jefferson Airplane. “And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall, Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call”