Thanks to Julia's recent explanatory article on Contacting members via our forum, I finally caught up with a shamefully long list of unanswered private messages awaiting me on the forum. Many, many apologies to all those to whom I must have seemed so impolite for so long.
I will certainly try to monitor private messages sent to me via the forum better in future but would like to reiterate that by far the best way of contacting me - usually quicker than by phone and certainly much quicker than by snailmail - is by emailing me. Just choose the General enquiries option via Contact us at the bottom of any page and your message will come straight to my pc or blackberry.
I am often contacted by wine producers asking what my standard procedure for accepting tasting samples is. What a question! I know some wine writers have a section on their websites spelling out how wine samples should be submitted, but I can't quite believe I have reached a stage in life when complete strangers want to force free wine on me. Even less believable is that I usually refuse. Unless I can see immediately how the resulting tasting notes will fit into an article, or I am thoroughly intrigued by what is proposed, I tend to deter people from going to the expense and trouble of sending something as heavy and fragile as wine to me (although of course things would be different if they used the much lighter and smaller Wine in Tube packaging described here). People often press their case. 'Oh, but we'd really like your opinion on our wine, whether you publish anything or not.' This is of course very flattering, and possibly misplaced. But then it also rather smacks of seeking a bit of complimentary (in both senses, they presumably hope) consultancy, or perhaps just a quote they can use in their literature. The truth is that I find it difficult enough already keeping up with the tide of samples that sweeps over my doormat and am always wary of swelling it.
However, I am thoroughly in favour of recycling and thought I should share with you one or two particular titbits that I found in all those private messages from Purple pagers. Uwe Kristen, Staten Island, urged me to try a particular German Pinot Blanc, even though I find so many of them overblown and clumsy. 'May I suggest the 2006 Kanzel Weissburgunder Spätlese from Henrik Möbitz (Baden), which has none of the characters you dislike in German Weissburgunder but practically everything else' he wrote. I suspect this will prove difficult for me to find, but I thought I would pass on the tip.
Still on the subject of German wine, Martin Santos Merx, Leeds, wrote at great length explaining that he had been forbidden to indulge in Purple pages for a year while his twin baby girls learnt to sleep through the night but that he is now back (now that they are presumably no longer nocturnal) and busy with Jubilee Wines. 'Currently I have 22 Rieslings on offer, mainly from the Terrassenmosel (my absolute favourite sub-region, sooo neglected in the UK. Who knows, for instance, stunning Neefer Frauenberg or Ediger Elzhofberg - dark red spots on the 1868 classification map?), Bopparder Hamm, the region around Wachenheim/Pfalz, as well as Gewurztraminer, Grau- and Weissburgunder. Not to forget some red wines, naturally Spätburgunder and Dornfelder but also a tremendous Cabernet Dorsa from the Mosel region of which one of my customers says it makes him think about what he bought from Bordeaux, and at what price.' He believes 2008 German wines will prove to have been seriously under-estimated and I think he may well be right.
Edouard Peter, Bugnaux-sur-Rolle, wrote (a very long time ago) to protest that Switzerland had been unfairly excluded from my suggestions for 'Pinot in all its glory'. He is a particular fan of those from Paccot in Féchy, Vaud, and Simon Maye et Fils in the Valais.
Pinot Noir tends to get people going and Bill Hargrove, Bellaire, Texas, wrote at great length in reponse to my video interview of Diana Snowden Seysses to spell out just how closely connected ROAR Pinot (from whose website comes the picture above), Gary's, Rosella's and Pisoni vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands are.
So that is the news for now. Do stay in touch.