Friday, February 15, 2008

Bloggers, Cloggers and Robot Jellyfish

Over the past few years I have gotten to know a few wine and food bloggers. Most of them live in New York and a few over by San Francisco way. I’ve spent time with a couple of them from my back yard (Texas) and have met a few who live or have lived in Italy. You can find some of them linked on the side of this blog. I am getting ready to go back to California for a week, to immerse myself in the Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium. So before I head out west I’d like to say a few words about some of my fellow bloggers, cloggers and robot jellyfish.

I first met David Anderson in Dallas. David is an Italian ex-patriot, originally from Atlanta. He is an American who had been Italianized. Lately his blogging has gone more towards fashion, but I refer to and recommend his site for people who are traveling to Italy and looking for a good place to stay or a nice restaurant. Some of his finds are off the radar, so they can be real insider stuff.

I was an early reader of Tracie B’s My Life Italian. Now she has returned to Texas and I hope when she gets settled she will return to the blog. She is young, hopeful, smart and we’re glad she is in Texas. I am especially glad to have another Italian wine aficionado in the area.

Eric Asimov is a clogger (corporate blogger) who writes his blog through the NY Times. I met him last year at the Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium. He’s a busy guy, and aren’t all journalists a little behind the eight ball, what with all their deadlines and understaffed departments?

I met Keith Beavers in NY at a little place he was working at. Keith has East Village Wine Geek and it has been an off and on blog. For one he has just opened up a new wine store. Now that it is open, the blog is back up and running. I like Keith, he’s always friendly and he’s hopeful. He hasn’t been spoiled into cynicism and he knows good wine from bad. Hopeful importers make note: Keith is a good barometer for anything you are thinking of bringing into NY or the greater NY metro area, commonly known as the rest of the US.

Fredric Koeppel is a prolific writer from Down South who, like me, lingers on the edge of civilization, hanging by a thread. I met him, also in NY, last year, at a wine luncheon for Viviani. He’s a unique character. I’ve heard him ranting lately about what he considers to be the sorry state of the wine industry. But I gather he loves great wine and thus, is a slave to the wine god. So I forgive him for his total and absolute cluelessness when it comes to understanding the reality of wine distribution. Most folks who rant about that stuff have no idea of the scale or the organization in that part of the business. It is alive and well and it is bigger than your head.

Gabrio Tosti has a blog and a wine shop, again in NY. Young and full of testosterone, he revels in giving everyone, from Asimov to Vaynerchuk, a piece of his mind. He loves the esoteric, and when he isn’t rolling his own, he actually finds time to write a post or sell some nice wines. Unpretentious, unlike some other Italian wine merchants in that city, Gabrio is what some Italian winemakers wish there were in every city, in big, bad America.

Marco Romano is a new find, also met in NY. Is there a pattern here? Bloggers really gravitate to NYC? Or just me? Anyway, Marco lives in upstate New York and right about now is probably getting pretty sick of the cold and the dark. He has a connection to New Orleans and understands some of the generational references I use. Marco, tune up your Lambretta and head to NY in May…you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.

I first found out about Regina Schrambling when I read a piece she wrote for the NYT about Pantelleria before 9-11. I had just been there and it seemed we liked some of the same things about that little island. She has been nice enough to correspond with me over these past 6-7 years. We met last fall, in NY, at the Fatty Crab, over a bottle of Etna Rosso. Hey, some of youse guys need to come to Texas, my airplane and hotel bills are piling up. Regina is more food oriented, but has a real appreciation for wine. I read her blog, Gastropoda, and am eagerly awaiting my decoding ring so I can always know who she is writing about. A good palate and a freelancer who has to get up every morning and fight to survive. No jetting about every 6 weeks to the South of France or the Costa Smeralda, this is a journalist who gets paid only for the words that get printed.

Another food writer, Derrick Schneider, from Berkeley. Derrick writes An Obsession with Food and Wine. We met also at the Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium last year and we were hoping we’d see him there again. His writing is like having a meal at Chez Panisse. It’s clean, has depth and fills you up without stuffing you. Check his site out. He’s part of the new generation that is the future. Wonderful writer.

I met Jay Selman in Orange County, right around the corner from where I once lived. I was visiting my mom and sisters and stopped by his Grape Radio studio. A pioneer in the field and a really nice guy. I could fill up an Ipod with just his podcasts. You could learn all you needed to become write a wine expert by just listening to his programs.

I commented on Alder Yarrow’s Vinography, some time ago and was surprised to get a simple reply back, with a thank you. Here’s a guy who has a full-time job and puts out a blog with posts almost daily. Alder is an intense, serious, thoughtful guy and he approaches blogging very methodically. I also met him at the Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium, where he has given presentations about wine from the blog-viewpoint. He has always been a good responder to email and I think his blog is a great reference for folks who want an uncluttered, no b.s. portal into the world of wine.

There are other bloggers I have met and I am sorry to not include them in this post. But it is getting late and I have to get some sleep. The parting shot I want to leave the room with is this: The internet has been a great way to meet new people and make new friendships and alliances. Blogging has been an extension of this and is such a more interactive way to make new connections than to just sit in front of a television. I feel like my tribe is out there, and even though we are sometimes the lost tribe, scattered about the world as we are, it is a new way to stay connected and engaged in the discussion and evolution of the wine world.

Oh, one more thing – the robot jellyfish? They are pictured here. Fear not, no animal has been harmed in the making of them. They're just something I picked up in Austin, when we were scouting a bistro for a SXSW event.


Marco said...

Thanks for the generational mention. It makes me feel part of the tribe. I love the pathology according to Terry school of thought. I'll try to fire up the 3 wheeler for May days.
a presto

De Vino said...

Thanks AC I owe you dinner next time you are in NYC

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the Wine Writer's Symposium! I attended two years ago (where I met both Derrick and Alder) and unfortunately I just haven't been able to make it back since. I don't remember last year's excuse; this year's is a trip to Italy. No complaining there but it would have been great to meet you here.

Oh, and the weather's been fantastic, so enjoy that!

- wolfgang

Tracie P. said...

well put me on the guestlist too!

Anonymous said...

cool jellyfish...where can we get?

Austin, huh? see you @ SXSW

-Armando & Sofia

Anonymous said...

that is terrific that you are attending the wine writer's symposium. bravo

Derrick said...

Hey, thanks for the link love. I'm not making it to the symposium this year because I'm moving this week. Pooh.

But I'm super jealous you got to meet Regina. I love gastropoda.

Serge the Concierge said...

Will you be at South by Southwest this year?
I have a panel titled Just Over 50 and Not Dead Yet (on March 8)

Have a great day

Serge the Concierge

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