Sunday, 12 August 2012

What authority do I have to write a wine blog? - Part 1

With the Internet and social media, there now exists a global forum for distributing and sharing information.  Everyone can become a writer, a blogger, or an educator. Unfortunately, just providing the medium to communicate, does not make everyone a good communicator - in fact, far from it.  Too many people now can publish without the filter of an editor, a reviewer or a publisher.  While this has allowed for the success of a few great writers who would not have otherwise been found, it has mostly just added pages to the web of limited or no value.

There exists a lot of crap on the 'net, some of the material incorrect or worse, misleading, and some of it vitriol and hurtful, if not downright shameful.  The Internet provides a public forum, and recreates a town hall setting where issues can be raised and debated.  I find this exciting and a leap forward - not backward - in communications and relationships.  Yet, too many people hide behind an avatar, or feel they can be disrespectful in addressing others 12,000 miles away without recourse.  This sometimes turns the public forum into the 'pubic' forum unfortunately.

I thought about writing a wine blog for almost a year before actually writing my first entry.  My bride who writes DAZ in the Kitchen asked if I would consider being a guest blogger as she did not have time that week (almost 18 months ago) to write her post.  With trepidation, I agreed and 30 minutes later had an article which at least would help my wife avoid the need to write something herself that week.  What was exciting was that two people commented positively on the entry and provided me encouragement that maybe I did have something of value to share.

Yet, through having done a lot of wine topical reading, it was clear that (1) I was not a professional writer as many are who make it their career, and (2) I am not as knowledgeable on wine topics as many others are that I admired such as Jancis Robinson, Campbell Mattinson, or James Halliday.  These individuals are great writers and experts in their field.  I read a brilliant article yesterday entitled "Halliday's last O'Shea" by Mattinson in Voracious: The Best New Australian Food Writing edited by Paul McNally.  It was so powerful, I was shaking and delighted in every word Mattinson shared with us about the unique dinner and wine drinking experience that he, Halliday and others partook in.  (Halliday's generosity also comes through on wanting to share such a great bottle with friends which in my opinion makes Halliday a wine enthusiast instead of a wine snob as judged in my article "Wine Snob versus Wine Enthusiast - which one are you?" even though in either case, Halliday must certainly be considered a wine expert!  Expertise has nothing to do with being a snob or enthusiast - attitude does!

But these individuals - Robinson, Mattinson and Halliday - have written multiple books, write about wine as a full-time profession and are absolute experts in their field.

So the question remains, "What gives me the authority to write a wine blog?"

First of all, I actually do not need authority.  I am not requesting anyone to buy anything, or to even take the time to read my posts.  That is clearly and entirely up to them.  And the number of posts and comments continues to grow, so I feel good that it appears to be of value to a community of like-minded readers out there.

I write because I enjoy writing and it helps me organize and challenge my thoughts and views with regard to wine.  I also provide a "common man's voice" which strikes an accord with my audience (you don't need to worry about me providing non-essential information to the 99.999% of us who will never, ever be able to try the '27 LeTache!).  Therefore, there does seem to exist an audience who is interested and finds value with what I have to say, at least to the point of them investing several minutes to read what I write.

2009 Molines Chardonnay and SAZ in the Cellar messy desk

And I have some areas of expertise that even the experts mentioned above do not have that I can share.  I have a place in the Hunter Valley, and have made some great and intimate relationships there and have drank wines from the private cellars of the best Hunter Valley wineries and wine makers, and have learned much of the lore and unique aspects of the Hunter Valley and its characters.  The wine pictured above that I am drinking while I write this post is a 2009 Molines Chardonnay.  This wine is a beautiful medium bodied Chardonnay that is the product of Robert and Sally Molines (proprietors of one of the very few Hatted restaurants in rural Australia called Bistro Molines) chardonnay grapes from their property, crafted by wine make PJ Charteris who until recently was the chief wine maker at Brokenwood, and is annointed as one of the six famous "new generation Hunter Valley wine makers."  (Chateris nows has his own winery in New Zealand which produces great Pinot Noirs which is also taking more of his time and is worth checking out.)

The only way to get any of this great Molines Chardonnay is to either buy it through the restaurant or become friends of Robert and Sally and get some directly from them.  Robinson, Mattinson nor Halliday will be able to describe this wonderful wine to you, explain where and how to get it, etc., but SAZ in the Cellar can!  Therefore, while certainly limited, I can educate others in a few areas that world renown experts cannot!

In part two of this post, I will be reviewing discussions I have had with Dr. Ian Harper who has published "Economics for Life" and Blake Stevens  who published just last week "Still Stupid at Sixty" on their assessment of the authority they have to write.  Both questioned if it existed, both questioned if they had a story worth telling and the ability to tell it, yet both have created riveting and useful books that are of great benefit to many others.  Their authority rings through loud and clear.

I am taking my authority from the growing number of page views and good comments, plus the fact that I do this as much for myself as I do for others, and from the wines I drink and the stories they tell me.

[Note:  There was an error when trying to link to Halliday's Wine Companion, so once that is resolved, I will update this entry to provide that link.]

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