Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Blogs of Note: European Edition

I’m way overdue for a trip across the pond. The problem is, given the deplorable condition of the dollar, I’m not sure when my next journey will be fiscally possible. It’s only natural, then, that I do a good bit of vicarious living, a.k.a. reading, in the European theatre of the blogosphere. Here are a few of the English language sites I find myself going back to time and time again.

Peter Liem brings a wealth of experience to his work at Besotted Ramblings and Other Drivel. While years of trade experience and his position as Senior Correspondent for Wine & Spirits Magazine bring serious credence to his writing, it’s the portrayal of day-to-day experiences living and tasting in Champagne that make his work so compelling. It doesn’t hurt that he cranks out some of the clearest and crispest tasting notes I’ve encountered. His site provides a great mix of vicarious experience, educational depth and jealousy-inspiring Champagne tastings.

I’d have to put Red Burgundy on my short list of wines I wouldn’t want to do without. It’s a category, right along with Champagne, that only the few can delve into deeply and daily. It’s also a category that seems to inspire more obsessive behavior – and obsessively focused blogs – than any other. Of those that I’ve encountered it’s Bill Nanson’s Big Red Diary that keeps me coming back for more. Bill’s blog details his succinct tasting notes and the occasional trade news on a more timely, less formal basis than his quarterly e-zine, The Burgundy Report. For those like me who aspire to drink more Red Burgs but can only manage the occasional few, it’s a pleasurable and informative way to keep up with what’s out there.

A couple of decades ago, my short stint as a hobbyist photographer came to an end with the theft of my Canon AE1 during a summer-long trip to Europe. After that, I spent many a year taking trips to Europe and elsewhere and justifying my lack of photographic record keeping with the idea that picture taking was just a distraction from more immediate experience. It made sense at the time. But looking back on it now, it’s a bit of a bummer. That’s especially true when it comes to past wine trips. For my own winery profiles, I’ve luckily been able to rely on the occasional photo taken by a fellow traveler. I’ve since remedied the situation and will be well armed for my next trip.

When it comes to recording his own journeys, Bertrand Celce knows how to do it right. While it’s fair to call Wine Terroirs a wine blog, it would be just as appropriate to look at it as a photo-journalistic blog that just happens to be based around the world of wine. His own producer profiles are both well written and beautifully photographed. And his ongoing series on Paris wine bars is an indispensable reference for anyone planning a trip to The City of Light.

The last site on my short list is also the newest. The brainchild of bloggers Franco Ziliani and Jeremy Parzen, VinoWire focuses on breaking news in the world of Italian wine. As such, it takes a very different approach than the authors’ individual blogs – less personal, more journalistic. The recent spate of controversy in Brunello has provided them with a wealth of politically charged topics. Peppered with occasional editorial articles and tasting notes, it’s a great way to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of vino italiano.

Given the number of great European wine blogs, it was tough to winnow this list down to just four. If my French were better (and my Italian, Spanish and German existent) the job would have been even tougher.


Joe said...

Great piece - I recently discovered Peter, and have been to Wine Terroirs on a number of occasions. Never heard of the Big Red Diary - great find, thanks. I have a secret plan to translate my site into French, but I just don't have the time...

David McDuff said...

Thanks, Joe. Glad to have been of service.

I've also pondered the possibility of adding some kind of translation function to my site (like the nifty little flags at Big Red Diary) but haven't found the energy/time to explore it. Somehow, I have the feeling that Blogger doesn't make it easy....

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