Read Decanter Magazine. Just Do It.

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Decanter is the bomb.  It’s almost impossible to find in Canada (paper, you can always get digital) but what a great, inspiring magazine, a wonderful homage to people who enjoy wine, whether collectors or bottle shop regulars.

 

I can wax poetic on its myriad merits but I will just point out a few.  First, the reviews trump the Wine Spectator 100 times over.  The picture of the bottle (the label) is always uber clear.  They use a general description, then tasting notes from a panel.  This is a bit like the old Siskel Ebert film reviews without the patronizing condescension.  Someone says complex, someone says weighty, another says textural: you get the picture, but you appreciate that wine reviewing is subjective, and they highlight that right on the page.  The price is right there, no mincing about.  And then they organize these reviews by points (so people who don’t necessarily need the 92 point wine can focus on what in the end will be available and not as costly).  And (this being the UK, a different market) they list stockists.  Check, check, check.  So, in short, the reviews are brilliant.

 

The regular columns are written by people who seem to, wait for it, actually like their jobs.  They always include a paragraph on “what I’ve been drinking” which is I think not just relevant but touching.  Reviewers rarely seem to do anything but sips and spits and contemplation but Decanter has columnists who are actually drinking wine.  Shock of shocks.  Here are two arbitrary examples from a recent issue: “A great example of the pleasure to be found in the sub-90 point space is…”  Now how about a phrase like that Wine Spectator!  The article accompanying it actually defended the points practice (which this blog doesn’t really support) but in an eloquent fashion and pointed out that it’s the vintners who dismiss an 89 point review not the drinkers.  Well, not the everyday drinkers.

Transparent and User Friendly Reviews

Transparent and User Friendly Reviews

Keeping in mind that Decanter reaches a mostly UK readership, and that BC wines although not rare are uncommon in the shops, I nearly spat out my Culmina Hypothesis when I read one columnist write about the wine he’d been drinking with this phrase: “I’ve also been enjoying the Sperling Vineyards, Old Vines Riesling 2009, grown in the Okanagan Valley.”  Well pop my Prosecco.  That’s someone who’s looking out for interesting wines from the farthest reaches and how beautiful to see a nod to the brilliant Ann Sperling.  Ever seen the Wine Spectator even acknowledge the north-of-Walla Walla marketplace?  Too esoteric I imagine.

 

Decanter awards retailers.  Retailers!  Decanter goes highbrow, visits the great estates, has notes for collectors, but also has a (hard to believe) “weekday wine” column.  That I really love.  They somehow just perfectly balance their content without ever falling prey to either snooty indifference or ranting hysteria.  [NB: This blog could take a few pointers, I know, I know…]

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Of especial note was a wonderful essay I read recently on how our lack of storage and “drink it now” culture is losing the ability not just to store and drink aged wine but to even appreciate it.  Listen to this ridiculously beautiful phrase on early approachability versus aging: “It is sad that many wine lovers rarely have the opportunity to appreciate the more complex hues of age.  They miss out on the ethereal scent of a mature Nebbiolo, the oak-leaf earthiness of evolved Pinot Noir, the tobacco savouriness of aged Cabernet; likewise the heady camomile lift of seasoned Riesling, or even the softest mousse and honeyed languor of long-aged Champagne.”  Christ, Aaron Spelling couldn’t have done it better.

 

Well I can go on and on but there really is no comparison.  It’s goodbye WS and hello Decanter.  Check it out.

Weekday selections.  How novel!

Weekday selections. How novel!

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