‘Pre-eminence in the vine is so much Italy’s special distinction that even with this one asset she can be thought to have surpassed all the blessings of the world…’ (Pliny the Elder, d. AD 79, Natural History, translation John F. Healy, Penguin 2004, p. 183)
For me wine is pleasurable exploration – through grape varieties, wine styles, landscapes and countries, and of course in encounter with producers and wine people.
My path in learning about wine has been slightly circuitous, as befits a subject involving alcohol. Red Burgundy started all this and there is really not much to trade up to from its subtle and complex wines. I have a particular passion for Italy – with a firsthand knowledge of the Tuscan Maremma, basically South of Pisa, along with other key regions. Slightly curiously, I really got into Italian wine through mid-life learning of the language and then wondering what to do with the language once I had taken the trouble to learn it. Getting to know the Italian wine scene in situ has been worth all that trouble with grammar and irregular verbs. But I also love French classics and its regions and of course I like good wines wherever they come from. WSET study is also playing an important part in broadening my horizons.
As a result of this exploration I run a wine group in Hampshire, England (Andover Wine Friends) and tastings/courses in Tuscany in the summer. And, of course, this website is an expression of this journey of exploration.
There’s so much to enjoy in the world of wine: the landscape, the places, the growers and merchants, the grape varieties, what happens in vineyard and cellar, the literature … and that’s before you get to the best bit, tasting and drinking. So enjoy the website and the journey, with a glass in hand.
Website credits: I decided, rightly or wrongly, to learn enough about websites to produce this one – with massive help from WordPress. The predecessor site was on the awesome blogging machine which is WordPress.com and I have now graduated to WordPress.org, which gives you total control, and, worryingly, total responsibility. The overall look of the website was created in Artisteer. My favourite plugins for WordPress are YD Recent Posts (which allows the preview of what is on the blog on the home page) and I am experimenting with the impressive NextGen Gallery.
The great bonus of a website for me is the combination of words and photos. Most of the photos were taken on a Canon EOS 400D; for me it’s a virtually perfect combination of lightness and control. As I am very fussy about carrying stuff, it could be smaller yet! I have a macro and a telephoto lens to give it greater versatility. Recently I have put Janet on photographic duties as it is difficult, simultaneously, to talk to growers, take notes, take photos and taste wines – and I’m certainly not going to skip the last duty! She also is a constructive proof reader, when time allows.
Some of the fixed pages of this website are translated into Italian – where they are they there is an ‘Italiano’ link immediately under the heading of the page. Although I have really enjoyed learning Italian, it is well beyond my competence to translate these pages. For this I am hugely indebted to Vita Maiullari, from Santeramo in Colle, Puglia, who was the Italian assistant in Winchester in 2010-11. Vita and I worked on the pages – it certainly improved my Italian and I hope it helped with her English. Many thanks to her for her continuing contribution and all the very best for the future!
Personal acknowledgment: All in all, what with the language, the website, the photography, the wine, the places and the people, this website tries to capture what has been an amazing journey of discovery: about myself, the world in which we live, and all that I have had the good fortune to encounter. The biggest acknowledgment is due to Janet, number one winefriend and so much more, who – apart from many other contributions – on one sleepless, hot summer’s night in Tuscany helped me to understand why I put myself through it. I was having a mini existential crisis at the time. Why had I decided to come to this strange place and spend my ‘holiday’ struggling with the Italian language – rather than having a normal holiday like anyone else? After hours of reflection I worked out that I was learning Italian because … I wanted to. And from that, hardly earth-shattering discovery, has come this project which has filled the last five years and promises so much more.
Il mio percorso di apprendimento sul vino è stato lievemente tortuoso, come si addice a un soggetto coinvolto da questa materia. Il Rosso Borgogna ha iniziato tutto questo e c’è davvero poco da negoziare su i suoi vini sottili e complessi. Ho una passione particolare per l’Italia – con una conoscenza diretta della Maremma Toscana, fondamentalmente a sud di Pisa, insieme ad altre regioni chiave. In modo sottilmente curioso, mi sono imbattuto nel vino italiano nel bel mezzo del’apprendimento della lingua e poi mi sono domandato cosa fare con la lingua una volta che mi fossi preso la briga di impararla. Conoscere lo scenario del vino italiano in situ ha avuto la meglio su tutti problemi con la grammatica e verbi irregolari. Amo però anche i classici francesi e le regioni meno apprezzate e, naturalmente, mi piace il buon vino da qualunque parte provenga. WSET studio sta svoltando un ruolo importante nell’ allargare i miei orizzonti.
Come risultato di questa esplorazione conduco un gruppo di vino in Hampshire, Inghilterra (Andover Amici del Vino) e le degustazioni in Toscana in estate. E, naturalmente, questo sito è l’espressione di questo cammino di esplorazione.
Anche se mi è piaciuto moltissimo imparare l’italiano, non è certo mia competenza tradurre queste pagine. Per questo sono enormemente riconoscente a Vita Rosa Maiullari, di Santeramo in Colle, in Puglia, che ha lavorato come assistente di lingua italiana a Winchester nel 2010-11. Vita e io abbiamo lavorato sulle pagine italiane – di sicuro ho migliorato la mia conoscenza dell‘ italiano e spero abbia aiutato lei a migliorare in inglese. Grazie molte a lei per il costante contributo a questo sito e auguri per il suo futuro!
C’è così tanto da godere nel mondo del vino: il paesaggio, i luoghi, i coltivatori e commercianti, le varietà di uva, cosa avviene in vigna e cantina, la letteratura … e tutto ciò prima di arrivare al meglio, degustando e bevendo. Così, godetevi il sito e il viaggio, con un buon bicchiere in mano.