Gone for a while: time out for bloggers

July 2, 2010

Hurray, since today, folks, I am on holidays. I do not know when I will write the next blog entry. I will be in Europe for a while, traveling to Germany, Italy and France. I will catch up with old friends, indulge in good food, fine wine and superb culture.

I do not know what internet access we will have but bear with me and do not abandon me. I will write again and let you share my European experience. Cheers folks and thanks for visiting:

The Man from Mosel River

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A wine blogger’s weekend

March 6, 2010

Flower on my terrace garden in Bangkok

Finally, the weekend has arrived. I am stuffed today: boy what a week that was. I have not produced a single blog entry, which has not happened for a long time in my three years as a wine and food blogger. I thought of myself as having developed the discipline and technique of writing and uploading a piece every two/three days. I was always full of stories, which waited in my head to be written down. But not this week, this week my tank was empty. During the last week I felt chased. Not even the few bottles of wine I drank with my meals could relight my desire to write a blog entry. But today is Saturday, the sun is shining and my terrace is laughing at me.

Of course I have a few draft stories on my computer, but most of them require some further research, and somehow one has to be in the right state of mind to write them up and load them on. And the prospects for having enough time are not too good. Next week I am off to Vietnam and Cambodia. After that I have some intensive workshops in Thailand. The two-week holiday for Songkran, the water festival of the Thais, I will spend on my vineyard in Glenburn, Victoria. I will be busy doing post-harvest stuff, working the land on my new tractor, celebrating with family and friends, therefore, no time for writing. And after that I am off to Germany for 10 days meetings and consultations. March and April will be two lean months as far as blogging is concerned, I guess. And sure enough, this will give me a vast cornucopia to draw on, and the energy to regale you with stories from the vineyard.

I hope you stay tuned and continue to visit the “Man from Mosel River”. Cheers!


Vineyards of Thailand Part 1: Holiday Park

January 10, 2010

This blog entry if the first of three looking at various vineyards in Thailand. During the Christmas vacation, we went on a winery tour, visiting three Thai vineyards; Holiday Park, Gran Monte and PB Valley, except Holiday Park, all in the Khao Yai area.

Holiday Park, about two hours north of Bangkok, is a complex undertaking, more a holiday home cum entertainment facility than a vineyard cum winery. However, they do produce grapes, as it seems mostly table grapes for direct consumption. When we arrived in the place, vineyard workers were busy “cleaning” the grapes, which was thinning individual bunches of smaller berries so that the remaining ones could grow bigger. The table grapes we saw were very healthy.

Vineyard workers thinning bunches under the trellis system

Table grapes at Holiday Park

Small tractors were converted into small “locomotives” with wagons so that visitors can be driven around the property including a holiday housing park, a lake, an activity centre, the vineyards and a play ground.

The locomotive

The undertaking is obviously targeting domestic tourists and visitors. The staff at the tasting counter did not speak English. But nonetheless there were wines and juices to be tasted. It was my first ever experience with small plastic cups for a tasting.

Plastic cups for wine tasting at Holiday Park

I assume the wine made is just a by-product of the table grape business. The grapes which cannot be used as table grapes and/or are left over are made into wine. The price of the bottle was THB 250 (about 5 EURO or A$ 7.50). We did not buy any wine.

Holiday Park red

If you have small children, Holiday Park is still worth visiting. I suggest you go there early in the morning when it is not too hot. From there on you drive to Khai Yai to visit other wineries or the national park.

I could not find any address for Holiday Park on the internet in English. Sorry folks.


From the sidelines: Judging the wine judges II

September 9, 2009

The day I received the results from the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards, I also received an e-mail from Karl Storchmann from the American Association of Wine Economists announcing the newest publication of the Journal of Wine Economics (Vol 4, No 1).

The lead article in this issue of the journal is about the wine judges and their reliability in judging wines. This was the perfect contrast reading to the long list of award winners from Decanter. Again Robert T. Hodgson has summarized some more research about the topic in question.

The title of the article is “An Analysis of the Concordance among 13 U.S. Wine Competitions”. Hodgson followed over 4,000 wines entered in these competitions of which 2,440 wines were entered in more than three competitions. 47% of these wines received gold medals in one show but 84% of these same wines received no medals at all in the subsequent shows. These results indicate that winning a Gold medal is greatly influenced by chance alone. Or to put it another way: Wines which were deemed of an extraordinary quality by some wine judges were assessed as very ordinary by others.

In come the Decanter World Wine Awards 2009 results. What does the study say about these awards. Nothing, of course. My skepticism about wine shows, however, is rather stronger then before.

One may ask the question are the Hodgson findings about wine shows in the U.S. applicable to shows such as Decanter? Can we safely conclude that some of the Decanter award winners would be seen as ordinary by other wine judges at other shows, and that some of non-winners could easily win a Gold somewhere else. Or could the Decanter wine judges replicate the tasting with the exact identical findings? Or what would their “margin of error” or inconsistency be?

What Hodgson’s study also tells us is, that wine judges are just human beings who are inconsistent and unpredictable. But we might rightly assume that they are trying to do the right thing but fail in this from time to time. The judges at the wine competitions surveyed, though, seem to have a shared idea about the wines they do not like and therefore win no awards at all. That’s at least something.

A few wine blogs have taken up the issue as well. Alder Yarrow for instance writes on Vinography about the AAWE paper and calls for a stop of the proliferating state wine shows. He admits, however, that the shows surveyed where, and I quote, “essentially the largest and most prestigious wine competitions in America”.

What does this tell us wine consumers? Well, wine quality and medals won at wine shows are not “orthogonal”, the presence of one doesn’t imply the presence of the other. Therefore, trust your own taste and buy what you like, possibly after tasting and let the wine shows be wine shows.

How about the vintner? Well, it is very nice for any wine producer to be recognized for outstanding quality and performance. So it is nice to win a medal at a wine show or getting a five star winery rating from James Halliday for instance. But it is not the end if this is not coming along. Most important is that ordinary people like to drink and buy your wine; the rest takes care of itself.

papa290131

Cheers folks, trust your own judgment and taste as many wines as you can.


US Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma County, California

October 25, 2008

Today, the American Wine Bloggers openend their conference in Sonoma County, California. I would have loved to be there, instead I am here on the island of Taiwan teaching a course on “good governance in land administration”. In fact I love it here; it’s one of my “regular events”. Participants come from all over the world just as at the wine bloggers events.

Though it is somehow very tempting, I must admit. If you know that all these interesting wine bloggers convene and share their experiences, hmm. But one day, I will be there and see with my own eyes, hear with my own ears and feel and taste the wines with my own taste buds. Alas, there is the internet and information can be accessed.

Among the many sponsors of the Sonama event is also a group I have joined recently: The Open Wine Consortium. It’s an interesting bunch of people, very dedicated to the promotion of wine and wine culture. Though being a rather a new member, I have not yet interacted much with them. But I will. It’s just to tempting. Log on to the conference and experience it yourself.


To be or not to be – a wine blogger !

September 30, 2008

I am a wine blogger since almost two years and I have seen and visited many blogs on wine and food, wine tastings, viticulture and wine-making. Some of these blogs I frequent often, others, only from time to time. It is always informative and I learned many things about the wine industry and how people think and feel about wine.

The romantics view of wine blogging: A glass of White Porto from Quinta do Castelinho in the Douro wine region, Portugal

Last night was another one of those nights when I could not sleep and so I started to surf the internet’s wine websites and blogs. I was reminded what a terrific world is out there. Goodness me, how interesting this is. I could not stop looking around. Amazing what I found. The wine and food bloggers come in many types, colours, shapes, characters, personalities, professions, etc.

Some are

professionals

and others are

amateurs

some are

expert connoisseurs

others are

wild enthusiasts

some are

profit oriented businesses and wine journalists

others, however, are

enthusiastic hobby writers

some are

cellar door and wine distributors

others are

private individuals and consumers

some of them are

sophisticated, polished urbane wine freaks

others are

rural folks (like me), vintners and wine makers

some write

all alone (like me)

others

work in teams and thereby share the burden to produce content and attempt to avoid boredom.

Some do it for money, most do it to have fun. It goes without saying that some, while doing it for money, have fun as well.

The reality of the modern blogger.

Let me share with you some of my findings and conclusions.

First, I felt pretty small and amateurish, technically as well as subject matter wise. There are so many knowledgeable people out there, amazing.

My own blog which I tend with loving care since January 2007 is a rather simple affair. Out there in cyberspace there are sites with podcasts, with videos, with music, with slide shows, presentations, breathtaking links and so on. Exciting stuff.

I have only stories and some pictures.

Second, the world of wine bloggers is pretty dynamic. Moreover, they seems to lead interesting lives.

Third, wine bloggers network quite a bit. Last year I followed the German wine bloggers workshop at an important wine expo (I forgot which one).

At the end of August the European Wine Blogger Conference (http://ewbc2008.wineblogger.info) was held in Spain (in Logrono!).

The American blogger community will follow suit in October in Sonoma County in California (http://winebloggersconference.org). The participants list is very impressive. What a large community there is.

German wine bloggers conduct regularly the so called “wine rally”, American wine bloggers have a format called “Wine Blogging Wednesday”. Both formats are used to share interesting stories about a given wine theme and publish them in a co-ordinated way. The Americans have even established a website for the purpose (www.winebloggingwednesday.org)

As with music and films wine bloggers are rated in “top” …. something. For instance the top 100 and other lists of top bloggers, either rated by links and/or traffic or after voting by users.

I found such a list from June this year. And can you imagine the top 100 is lead by a German wine blogger (Dr. Achim Becker of Wineterminator). The second blogger gets almost only a third of the top one’s votes. Wine Library TV (Gary Vaynerchuk) ranks only in 5th position. No. 6 is another German (Mario Scheuermann and his Planet Bordeaux) who ranks in 10th position with another blog (drink tank).

I suggest you explore this cyberworld yourself. And do not forget to visit wineries and vineyards from time to time. the real stuff.


Wine Rally – German wine bloggers on the move

May 6, 2008

German wine bloggers have established a monthly scheme called “wine rally” where one blogger hosts a blog entry collection around a predetermined theme. The last one was for instance about “Chenin Blanc”. wines.

I have participated in two rallies over the last couple of months and it was great fun. Moreover, I learned a lot about the topics discussed myself. I also binds the blogger community together somehow; it is networking in action.

Since the blog entries are in German, I will try to summarize some of the highlights of the last rally for you here in English. The host this time was Christoph Raffelt. On his blog Originalverkorkt one can find interesting wine reviews and stories around food and drinks. Also the photos on the blog are very appealing.

– About 15 bloggers participated this time.
– Most Chenin Blanc wines tasted by the bloggers came from the Loire Valley, some from South Africa but generally new world wines were not favourably reviewed.
– Many of the tasted wines came from biologic or bio-dynamic production.

Which wines were tasted?

– Crémant de Loire
– Les Doucinières von Vincent Girault (Loir)
– Crémant von Château Tour Grise (Loir)
– Domaine Patrick Baudouin Effusion 2004 (Anjou)
– Domaine de la Taille aux Loups by Jacky Blot
– Vouvray by Gaston Huet
– Coteaux du Layon by Jo Pithon
– Coteaux du Layon
– Plaisier der Domaine de Romchambeau (Coteaux de l`Aubance)
– Vouvray 1999, Domaine du Clos de L`Epinay
– 2001 Saumur Blanc Brézé by Clos Rougeard
– Clos de Coulaine by Claude Papin, Château Pierre Bise (Savennière)
– Raats Chenin Blanc and Raats Original Chenin Blanc (Steen, South Africa)

And who were the participants? In the following I just list blogs and their addresses. For readers who are fluent in German this could be a real treat because many of the German and Austrian wine bloggers are true originals. Check it out.

six-to-nine (Pivu)
vinissimus (Robert Freudenthaler)
myexperience4u (Svetlana Kittke)
Weingut Lisson (Iris Rutz-Rudel)
Kaulweinblog
K&M Gutsweinblog (Bernd Klingenbrunn)
Culinarium Curiosum (Sabrina und Simon Klaiber)
weinwelt (Michael)
Nikos Weinwelten (Niko Rechenberg)
drinktank (Mario Scheuermann)
Winzerblog (Thomas Lippert)
Weingut Steffens-Keß (Harald)
viva-vino (Matthias Metze)

I hope this gives you a first impression even if it might be rather superficial. I do not know of any such initiative by Anglo-Saxon wine bloggers and their various communities. If you know something, please get in touch with me. Yours