I caught the wine bug in the early 1990s. It must have been my age. Given my IT background, I was one of the earlier Internet adopters. Later in that decade I found Robin Garr's Wine Lover's Page, a very active wine forum at the time, where I met lots of people (online and in real life), among them Víctor de la Serna. Today he's my friend, my master and my mentor. That's how we got a small group of wine nuts in Madrid going. We met regularly to have dinner and share great bottles from around the world.
I started writing during my student years. I was heavily involved in rock music; I wrote music video reviews and interviewed a lot of international rock stars of the 1980s. I wrote for the local rock magazines in Spain as a hobby while I was at university. It got me free records and free concert tickets, plus a little bit of pocket money. So there must have been some kind of journalist inside this technical guy.
In 2000 the Internet was exploding [see The story of JancisRobinson.com - JR] . El Mundo newspaper in Spain has always been in the lead when it comes to online content. They were to launch a number of web portals: one for health, one for travel, one for sports… 'Should we do one for wine?' asked Víctor. 'All of us together?' That's how elmundovino.com started, the place where I (really) cut my teeth as a writer. I designed the database for the tasting notes, and we ourselves did whatever it took until the site was up and running, including punching in a lot of data to start with some content. We blind tasted 30 wines per week, and we published one article per day, Monday to Friday. They still do. In 2001 the activity to generate all the required content was frantic; I wrote 50 articles for the site that year. And close to 40 the year after. Today over 250 of my articles are available there for you to read (in Spanish) at www.elmundovino.com.
During this time I also started writing for other publications and journals: Metropoli in Spain, blue Wine in Portugal (now simply called Wine), Connoisseur in Puerto Rico and The World of Fine Wine in the UK. We did a collection of wine books for El Mundo (I was in charge of Portugal and Germany), and I wrote a few of the Spanish entries (and one from Portugal) for the book 1001 Wines You Should Taste Before You Die.
At the end of 2009 Neil Beckett, editor of The World of Fine Wine magazine, asked me, Víctor de la Serna and Jesús Barquín (separately), about who could write a book on Rioja and the north west of Spain for 'The Finest Wines of' series he's editing. We kind of recommended each other, and as none of us really had time to do it on our own, we agreed to do it jointly. The work was slow and in some ways painful but clearly worth it. The result was brilliant, mainly because of the pictures taken by Jon Wyand and Neil's editing skills. And I'm not the only one to say this, as in February 2012 we got the Special Commendation at the André Simon Awards, the most prestigious wine and food writing awards in the UK. The book is published in the UK, in the US and, since autumn 2012… in Japan! (but sadly not in Spain).
In 2011, Jancis was on the lookout for a Spanish specialist and she found me. So I started writing for this site, mainly about Spanish wines with some stints on Portugal. Most of the work is for Purple Pagers, but a few articles are in the Free for all section.
Ah!, a small detail, I had been doing all this in my free time, as I had a proper job in something completely unrelated to wine - IT, technical background, management, business transformation, projects… going to meetings and sending emails.
I recently watched and listened again to what is for me the most inspiring speech I've ever heard, the one by Steve Jobs at Stanford University. In it he basically tells you to follow your heart. At the beginning of 2013 I was ready for a big change. I was changing jobs. After more than 22 years of corporate life, I followed my heart, said goodbye to my old company and moved to the red side… full time. When one door closes, another one opens somewhere. It's just a matter of finding it!
As Jancis told you last week in my Marqués de Riscal tasting article, I'm moving on. I've found an opportunity, one of those offers you can't refuse. In a way I'm sad to have to leave you all. I've enjoyed myself tremendously here, writing, tasting and talking to you on the forum. My only regret is that I didn't find more time to give you more coverage of Spanish wines, especially in the last few months. But I'm sure the announcement Jancis will soon make about my replacement will make us all happy, and you'll get to read about the great wines being produced in Spain. And I'll be out there, drinking wine... and talking about it! See you around.