What makes this job interesting is going out, meeting, interviewing people and finding out what makes them tick. That along with visiting vineyards, wineries, distilleries and, to a lesser extent, breweries to find out what they are up to, is what makes the likes of me get out of bed in the morning.
I have had a heartening crop of interesting people in recent weeks, probably due to the various awards dinners, Decanter and IWC plus generic and retailer tastings. I met George Fistonich who is on a sort of ‘world tour’ celebrating 50 vintages at Villa Maria. A quiet, modest man who makes wines that rarely if ever disappoint. You have to read his book to realise where he has come from and what he has achieved.
The following day, I met Beltran Domecq who is the new head of president of the Consejo Regulador of the Denominación de Origen Jerez-Xérès-Sherry. This man has sherry in his veins as his name suggests. The job previously was held by bureaucrats and politicians who probably had little interest in the wonderful fortified wine of south-west Spain. Once he got talking, you realised that he is on a mission to put sherry back on the pedestal as one of the great wine styles of the world.
Then I met up with Georg Riedel at one of his roadshows or stemware work outs (see previous blog). The man is a showman, a brilliant sales man who will defy anyone not to smell, taste the difference in appreciating wine, given the appropriate glass.
At Cape 2012, I interviewed Paul Schaafsma the new man at Accolade Wines in charge of the UK, Ireland and most of the rest of the world except for continental Europe and his boss Troy Christensen (see news stories on drinksint.com). Both interesting with lots to say and a clear idea of what needs to happen now that what is now Accolade, is away from Constellation.
Finally, today I met up with Neil McGuigan from Australian Vintage. The current generation from a famous Australian wine family. He calls for more people to step up and talk the talk about wine. Inform, enthuse novice wine drinkers and educate them so they will drink better quality. He was talking specifically about Australian wine but it applies to all wine. I do not think Neil would mind me widening out his remarks. He has the knowledge and charisma to follow comfortably in the foot steps of older brother Brian who is one of the pioneers of the modern Australian wine industry. He can be hilarious and then serious and passionate in the blink of a kangaroo.
All fascinating people with a passion. Interestingly, all on the wine side (Riedel does make stemware for spirits) but maybe that is just because of the time of the year. There are certainly master distillers, blenders and brewers, who are equally passionate although many are encumbered by being part of publicly quoted multi-national companies who do not always appreciate and encourage frank speaking. Let alone the culture of personality over brands.
Anyway, these people are achievers. They have a vision, a passion and they have worked damn hard to get where they are. So, meeting them is an uplifting, sometimes inspiring, experience. From a professional point of view it gives me great stories to tell and the opportunity to get the dictionary out and stretch the prose.
An Indian whisky to try this evening and then time to turn the light out on another busy day.