Wine Journal: The Third Coming
Wine-Journal debuted on the Internet back in June 2003.
It was just something to play around with during my lunch break instead of mindless games of Solitaire.
It was no big deal...
By the time I penned the final article entitled “When Neal Met Bob” in October 2006, Wine-Journal had gained a huge global and irrationally devoted following. To this day, strangers come up to me and gush how Wine-Journal was their gateway into wine, inspired their vinous passion or career, and inquire whether I really gave my six-month old daughter a drop of 2000 Petrus to accompany her baby porridge or (pre-Sideways) drink Montrachet with fish ‘n chips.
Wine-Journal was the brand. However, to me it was an attitude towards wine writing that intended to be informative, yet never po-faced or pretentious. On the contrary, it sought to be down-to-earth, irreverent and humorous, intermittently personal and provocative, without slighting the subject matter. It was strewn with spelling mistakes and grammatical crimes against humanity; meandered off-track like a drunken sailor. I didn’t give a hoot. The feedback was so warm and positive. And yet I was increasingly aware of being constrained by my full-time job, the sites £11.99 monthly budget and having to code the damn thing in raw HTML.
Then I received an email from Robert Parker and a new chapter opened. For some people, Wine-Journal ceased when I joined his team at the end of 2006 and committed the ultimate crime in going behind a paywall. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wine-Journal motored along at around 150 articles each year: essays that demanded hours of painstaking research, missives from countless tastings, scurrilous gossip and articles that were utterly inane, after all, the only thing that takes itself more seriously than wine are wine writers. Wine-Journal flourished as an independent part of robertparker.com and kudos to Bob, who kept his word and granted me, likewise all contributors to the publication, total creative freedom. Not once was I ever asked to edit or amend anything, even when I christened one article with the longest word in the German dictionary, just to see what would happen (see here if you want to know).
In 2012, I began taking on more and more responsibility for The Wine Advocate. Even so, I could not alter my writing style. Narratives continued to be warped by my mischievousness before words hit the page. Essentially, I subsumed the ethos of Wine-Journal into The Wine Advocate, assimilated the two together, and perhaps that is why I did not feel so aggrieved as my workload sidelined Wine-Journal. The second incarnation had run its course and it was wound down and archived away.
Now comes the third incarnation of Wine-Journal. Not so much rising from the dead, it has been reactivated, rebooted, given a lick of paint and escaped from behind the paywall out into the free-to-view world of the Internet.
The major change is that it becomes home not only for its founder, but my fellow Wine Advocate reviewers. Moreover, it opens its door to scribes such as the mysterious but quite brilliant R.H. Drexel, health expert Gerald D. Facciani who will hopefully be able to reduce my paunch and...well...you’ll soon find out. They all bring their own perspectives, insights and talents. My tastebuds are eagerly anticipating Monica Larner’s Italian epicurean odyssey under her “Una Vita diVino” moniker and Melissa Vogt’s insights into the California scene, among others dipping quills into inkwells. Maybe they will not feel the same urge to employ that aforementioned 79-letter German word...but who knows? That is the exciting thing. I don’t know what lies around the corner for Wine-Journal. It is a blank page upon which to be written. It will exist as a platform for articles that are not professionally review-orientated, thereby ensuring that content-wise, it will be a pretty broad church with regular updates.
Naturally, I have my own plans. Rest assured Bieber fans, the music section will return in a less restrictive format that reflects how music is consumed in this multimedia age. Plus, I will unleash a series of opinion pieces that have been itching to see the light of day, muse upon various aspects of wine, get a few things off my chest and ruffle a few feathers. Maybe I might reintroduce my agony column, although I understand that recipients of my sage advice never fully recovered.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Wine-Journal as it sets sail once again.
Neal Martin – 21 August 2016.
More articles from this author
Neal Drinks A Cup of Coffee
From Wine Journal
Sitting alone at Café de l’Ambre, neatly filed away down a Tokyo side street just a block away from Shimbashi station, I put down my rucksack that contains my trusty iPad, a useless wooden toy courtesy of JAL and my current book (Amanda Craig’s Lie of the Land—highly recommended), and then peruse the menu. It’s not long or fancy—just a double-sided laminated page. The sign on the door had forewarned that choices might be limited. It read: “Coffee only.” Just coffee? No chocolate brownies or cakes with pretty sprinkles? Don’t tell me there’s no wi-fi... Limited to a single beverage might disappoint the paying customer in any other café. On the other hand, this is not any other café. Thousands of coffee shops, or kissaten, populate this endless metropolis, yet it is Café de l’Ambre that attracts pilgrims far and wide. At the far table, a portly American gentleman in his mid-50s sits quietly on his own, keenly observing the baristas diligently working away behind the seated counter. Japanese workers, whether in a shop, restaurant or a bar, always look busy because their mindset is one of discipline, hard work and attention to detail, whereas the French look busy when...
How Was It For You? 2016 Primeur, Part Two
From Wine Journal
Continuing on from yesterday, I examined the release prices of 2016s, took a peek at prices of recent vintages and came up with a list of wines that I would buy. (I also included an alternative vintage, if I sought a mature bottle ready to pop.) Readers should note that the real bargains are probably at the Cru Bourgeois level or satellite Right Bank appellations. The problem is that many are not actually sold en primeur or they are sold directly to distributors, which means I do not have access to price information. You will notice that there are wines that I praised from barrel but do not appear below, either because their price increase made them less attractive vis-à-vis another or simply by limiting myself to a dozen names. One observation is that the long list contained a majority of wines from the Left Bank. This might be explained by greater price inflation on the Right Bank, which is nothing new. Estates are generally smaller in Saint-Émilion and Pomerol and therefore have less risk of unsold stock if they choose to pursue a much higher price. Cos d’Estournel The estate released the Grand Vin at €120 per bottle, the...