As a wine person (blogger, drinker, publicist, etc.) I’ve grumbled many a grumble over the state of the wine media. For every Eric Asimov column that elicited an enthusiastic fist pump, there was a letter from an editor about the risks of purchasing futures that set my eyes rolling far back into the depths of my head. There just seemed to be a lot of the same-old-same-old. With so many exciting things happening in the wine world, I was getting bored.
With the start of 2014 comes change. Here are two things happening in wine media that make me happy:
1. Two new wine online magazines have made their debut:
- PUNCH Magazine is a stunning new online magazine from Talia Baoicchi (whose Decanted column on Eater broke down the best, worst and weirdest of NYC’s wine lists and is sorely missed) and Leslie Pariseau. PUNCH isn’t exclusive to wine but it has great articles from some of the industry’s most exciting voices about topics that are usually verboten in the mainstream wine press – notably a recent article debunking the myth of Sommelier Certification. Or just on over to read their laugh-out-loud roundup of 2014 Drinking Resolutions, filled with numerous admissions of the fact that when your job involves a lot of alcohol, you’re hung over a lot of the time, to see what I mean.
- Another very promising new online magazine, The Grape Collective, only a few months old, has launched with the interesting add-on of an e-commerce component–They’re not just selling wines that they’re writing about, either but building a collection of bottles based on what’s going on in the wider conversation. . These websites that offer great editorial content and direct access to purchasing the products covered in the articles are going to be more prevalent as the progresses. I’m excited to see how it works with wine!
2. A committed shift away from the usual suspects when it comes to regional coverage.
- The world’s most famous wine regions are famous because they make amazing wines, and no matter how many times you revisit them, you’ll always find something revelatory. But there are so many more places making remarkable wines now and, as American wine drinkers, we are gaining better access to these wines. I love to see wine producing regions like Sicily, Jura, and the boutique regions of Australia get some attention. There’s also a lot of love being showered on lesser-known and new AVA’s in California and Washington. While I could probably read about Bordeaux, and Barolo, and Burgundy until I die and still not know enough, I’m not sure that’s a good thing and, apparently, editors are starting to agree. Here are some examples from recent wine pubs:
- Ray Isle takes on Australia’s Yarra and Barossa regions in the February 2014 Issue of Food & Wine (sorry, kids, not available online!)
- Wine Enthusiast shines a spotlight on The Jura region’s lofty whites and light reds in the February 2014 issue
- Wine Spectator strays from the beaten path with a feature on new wines from Sicily, Uruguay (!), Jura (again!), North American Tempranillo, Valtellina, California’s Lake County, and more
- Sommelier Journal takes an in-depth look at a winery in Avondale, Pennsylvania and the areas around Santa Cruz (also, sorry, not available online)