The method to the madness
Step 1 – Sourcing. This is both one of my favorite and simultaneously most grueling parts of the job and believe it or not, it’s a lot harder that it seems. The process starts long before the first bottle is opened or the first hand is shaken. I begin with research. I refresh my knowledge of the region in question and then narrow my search down to producer-level, cross-referencing across several different resources to create a short-list of winemakers. This is a lengthy and time-intensive effort that is critical to any successful trip.
Step 2 – Tasting: Once I have a shortlist, I visit the wineries in person. This is where the fun begins because the tastings start here. I always buy those wines I find most interesting so I can re-taste a few days/weeks later in a different context. Let’s face it, the wine always tastes great when you’re face to face with the winemaker and/or the vines from which it came. But that’s not always the case once you get that bottle back home. A second tasting is crucial to the selection process.
Step 3 – Choosing: Clearly, the wine must be of good quality. If I wouldn’t have the wine on my own table, I wouldn’t recommend it for yours! And last but not least before any wine clears the final hurdle, I have to be excited about the winemaker as a person because ultimately, my passion for great wine is derived from the people behind the bottle.