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France,Imports,Italy,Spain,Wine

Picking the Brain of Someone in Wine Retail

I believe that it’s my duty – at this stage in my career – to mentor an upcoming wine generation. The new writers aren’t starting blogs, so much, though; they’re working for marketing companies…

It seems that there’s become an established group who flew into the slight crack of the socialnomics window, and I was one of those early adopters of Web 2.0.

Now others are finding jobs with marketing companies, feeling that they’re better as contributors on blogs that are established. The reality check:  blogs don’t pay, People.

This new crop of writers have the same passion we all had  a few years ago, and they have the advantage of watching the struggles of “How do we monetize our blogs?”  ~ A question repeated at so many wine bloggers conferences.

It may ways, they’re a lot more astute, as are their marketing companies who are now trying to take advantage of the well established bloggers who may be stretched for time in other life areas, and may welcome a contributor as a freeing up of one’s commitment to writing another blog post. With this one being over 1,500 words, half of them my own, I’m not taking an easy route here… Just taking advantage of a company taking advantage of me and informing you in the process.

I also believe it’s my duty to tell it like it is.

There’s no easy ride, though. All the due diligence that we paid… It’s now less easy than it was during the 2004 and 2005 time period when we all launched. We’ve cluttered the Internet, but we’ve also established who we are; consequently, the new generation is coming to those of us who got in there in the formative years… And, they’re being hired by their marketing companies to do just that… “Target the bloggers, make their jobs easy, and provide free contact with a link back to us…” And… it’s written in code. I’ve studied programming code, so I know exactly what they’re up to.

Hum…

So anyway, I got an Email from Brandon Gray, who works for Serenta Wines, asking to contribute as a writer. I thought, “Okay, I’d like to see what what’s going on with Brandon. What’s he learning about these days that might be interesting to my readers?” I have a large number of consumers for my blog, as well as other wine business professionals.

I also wanted to see what a retailer is thinking today, based on what products are being carried. An astute retailer would carry what’s actually going to sell well, one would think, so what would it be?

My reply to him was that it would be a Q&A, which follows:

[Q]  Brandon, tell me why you’re wanting to write about wine in this new sea of wine writers, and what you’ll contribute that’s new and different.

[A]  What appears to be missing in wine writing is the personal attachment to wine in one’s writing – the soul, the desire to not just drink a glass of it but maybe drown the whole bottle because it tastes so good to the meal one made for himself / herself. Isn’t that, what wine should really be about? The desire of tasting something that gives you an instant feeling of being taken either to Tuscany enjoying the fabulous grapes and cherry notes while eating classical Spaghetti, or to French Riviera wearing your big shades while sitting in a restaurant at the boardwalk being all tied up with yourself and the glass of Bordeaux Château de Selle and Château de Saint-Martin in Taradeau.

[Q]  What do you perceive as the most famous and popular European wines in the world, based on your experiences?

[BRANDON]  France, Italy, and Spain.

[Q]  What is the most popular of these three?

[BRANDON]  Out of the huge variety of wine-producing European countries in existence, France is probably the most famous. France has more wine delivered to foreign countries than just about any other country in the world. With a climate that is perfect for grape farming and plenty of varieties of soil and region-specific conditions, the possibilities for wine-making within France’s borders are nearly limitless.

 [Q]  Why do you believe that France leads the way?

[BRANDON]   The French have taken full advantage of the potential Mother Nature has slipped into their soil. Besides having some of the best wine delivered and produced right within its borders, France also has some of the best wine-classification policies as well as an excellent and precise system of quality control. This system classifies the best French wines according to the selection of grapes used in their manufacture, the climate of the area in which they were made, the soil conditions of the area in which they were made; and, last but not least, the skill and technique of the wine-makers.

 [Q]  What regions do you recommend?

[BRANDON]   Bordeaux produces some of the most famous and most delicious French wine in the world. This region can manufacture almost one billion bottles of wine in a good year. The wine produced in Bordeaux is generally red and is usually made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, or Merlot varieties of grape. {JO: Petite Verdot is another of the Bordeaux grapes… just adding}

Burgundy is another region in France famous for its wine. Burgundy is most famous for its white wine produced from Chardonnay grapes and its red wine produced from Pinot Noir grapes. These two types of wine are generally known as Burgundies.

And, Alsace is world famous for its white wines, although it is also a leading manufacturer of French beer.

Other areas in France that have large quantities of wine delivered to far away parts of the world include the Loire Valley and the Rhône region. These are famous for their wines made from the Syrah and the Viognier grape.

 [Q]  What about Italy?

[BRANDON]  Although there is slightly less regimentation and order among the winemakers of Italy, there is still plenty of great wine delivered to the international market by this lively and passionate little country. Italy is most famous for its hundreds upon hundreds of local varieties of wine. Practically everywhere you go in Italy has its own special variety of wine, which is undoubtedly touted as the undisputed best wine in all of Italy.

[Q]  Tell me about Piedmont.

[BRANDON]  Across the world, Italy is more famous for its red wine than its white wine. Piedmonte wine, manufactured in the tiny province of Piedmont, has an international following in the wine-loving community. This region produces world-famous wines such as the Barbaresco and the Barolo, both produced from the Nebbiolo grape.

[Q]  I’m partial to Soave… How do you feel about these wines?

[BRANDON]  Soave wine is another famous Italian brand produced in the North of the country from Garganega grapes.

[Q]  Take me to Tuscany…

[BRANDON]  The farther North you travel in Italy, the more sophisticated you’ll find the winemakers to be. Italy’s province of Tuscany is famous for its Chianti wine, which is made from Sangiovese grapes. Chianti is probably one of the most famous Italian wines with a huge amount of devoted fans in all corners of the world.

[Q]  What about Naples?

[BRANDON]  Naples has a world-famous reputation not for the quality of its wine, but the quantity of wine that’s made in that region. Although they’ve certainly made huge leaps of progress in recent years when it comes to the quality of their wine, the international market still knows Naples as the place to go if you’re looking for a rich, cheap wine.

[Q]  By “rich” you mean in big flavors, right? Because in my world, “rich” followed by “cheap” is an oxymoron.

[BRANDON]  Right…

[Q]  Onto Spain, tell me about their dry climate and great regions.

[BRANDON]  Spain is famous for its dry climate, it produces a solid amount of delicious wine. Spain’s Andalusia region is famous for the sherry it produces, known in many circles as Jerez de la Frontera. Much like Italy, wine is manufactured in just about every nook and cranny of Spain. From the fertile and rich soils of Galicia to the arid Canary Islands, wine-making runs thick in Spanish blood, which may or may not be thicker than Spanish wine.

La Rioja is famous for the red wine it exports, boasting a variety and flavor of wine delivered to the international market that is unmatched by any other region in the world. Cavas is a world-famous Spanish wine that is similar in taste and consistency to champagne. Cavas is a Catalan wine made in the Penedes region of Spain with strong ties to Barcelona. Although Spain boasts large amounts of wine delivered to international consumers, much of its wine is consumed right within its borders.

My personal, final thoughts… when Brandon has his own blog up and running, he’ll write with that personal passion he demonstrated in the first question. For now, he’s really busy learning about the products his retailer is selling, which is a great curve for him. I remember those early days, and Brandon’s right on cue for a great future in wine.

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3 Responses to “Picking the Brain of Someone in Wine Retail”

  1. Made it this far, Jo:

    “…the desire to not just drink a glass of it but maybe drown the whole bottle because it tastes so good to the meal one made for himself / herself. Isn’t that, what wine should really be about?”

    Assuming that the answers were accurately transcribed, then Brandon cannot spell, and has a poor grasp of grammar.

    (He later goes on to call Cava ‘Cavas’, which brings his wine knowledge into question too.)

    Sorry, but regardless of the web developments you describe, one of the hallmarks of a good wine writer now and in the future is that they can write.

    And regardless of his passion, this chap can’t.

  2. Sherry seems to be making a comeback and rightly so>

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    Sediment Blog, the answers were accurately transcribed. Honestly, I should have caught the “Cavas,” knowing that it was a plural noun, but I’m also very familiar that we all make mistakes. I make more than I’d like, with the good news that I always pulled an “A” in any English classes regardless of occasional errors.

    Blogs – for most people, including myself – are a hobby. For me to keep this one is sometimes burdensome, considering that I have a day job. Someone asked me last night how many hours I work a week, and I had to admit, “Between 70 to 80” (writing for my blog clumped into that time).

    For instance, as an editor, I caught this one… “one of the hallmarks of a good wine writer now and in the future is that they can write.”

    Good writer is singular, and “they” is a plural pronoun.

    The irony of life is that we’re all trying so hard to be perfect in an imperfect world, and we all must grow and learn, which actually happens everyday. So, I’m betting that Brandon will be humbled by your assessment and grow, just as I just did to pay more attention to editing.

    With this blog posting, also – before I let this one go “live” – I had decided to not let anyone else contribute to my blog every again. The reason for that will be on my blog tomorrow, and this posting has a lot to do with it.

    Stay tuned for details… And thanks for making it though to now. You’re a good sport.

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