The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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story and photos by Randy Caparoso PREPARE FOR MORE TERROIR EXPERIENCES IN THE SOMM JOURNAL T HE TASTING PANEL, as you probably know, has acquired Sommelier Journal and will resurrect this widely respected publication in 2014 as The SOMM Journal. As a columnist (manning Sommelier Journal's "Bottom Line" column since the magazine's inception in 2007) and contributor to both magazines, here's my inside scoop: This should be as perfect a match as Sancerre with oysters, Cabernet Sauvignon with steak and everything else we hold near and dear. TPM Custom Publishing's Meridith May is raring to go with this specialty periodical because she is as cognizant as anyone of the growing inluence of the sommelier trade on the overall wine world. Today, everyone wants to be a "sommelier," whether they are working in the on-premise industry or not, because sommeliers represent exacting standards of excellence pertinent to all facets of wine sales, production and education. As Sommelier Journal was planning to do before ceasing publication last October, May has been working THE TASTING PANEL up towards the PAD and mobile applications necessary to reach the ever-growing number of professionals aspiring to sommelier standards. But unlike the old Sommelier Journal—limited by a subscriber base consisting primarily of actual working sommeliers (there aren't that many in the U.S.)— TPM is more than capable of taking this next step . . . and I, for one, am excited about the possibilities. At the end of 2007, David and Cindy Vogels launched Sommelier Journal in response to a need, or dearth, as it were, of truly useful wine information catering to sommeliers and on- premise wine professionals. With a background in medical publishing, the Vogels' approach was both informed and intuitive. They understood the need for content that sommeliers can geek out on, but they also grasped a nuance that has always eluded most wine professionals who are not sommeliers: the fact that sommeliers by nature are independent thinkers with a basic distrust of other people's palates (other than that of trusted colleagues). Hence, the fact that there were never any numerical ratings, travel or lifestyle pieces in the original Sommelier Journal, only strictly trade- related information and wine region proiles focused on the terroir and winemaking that make each region unique. Suggestions may have been implicit, but never judgmental—the ideal somme- lier makes his/her own sensory assessments. Another unique aspect of Sommelier Journal that The SOMM Journal fully intends to continue: Every year since 2009 the publication and I have been leading sommeliers on all-expenses-paid trips through wine regions; called the Terroir Experience, these journeys provided the opportu- nity to walk through vineyards, smell the air, kick the dirt and taste with growers and winemakers. The itineraries have been pre-dawn to post-meri- diem death marches, compressing in three days and four nights what it would take sommeliers an entire month to experience on their own. I always say that tasting is believing—an exer- cise never nearly as elucidating when prompted by words or images on a page, or a device. A typical sommelier thirsts for tastes and hungers for knowledge; but you want to be there yourself, and draw your own conclusions. Sommelier Journal intuited that, and The SOMM Journal gets it. Looking forward to sharing this—in new issues and further Terroir Experiences—with many more of you! Sommelier Journal co-founder David Vogels double-blind tasting Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs. Vogels will continue as Consulting Editor for The SOMM Journal. Ted Lemon, owner-winemaker of Littorai Wines, shows a Biodynamic vineyard to sommeliers during a 2011 Sommelier Journal Terroir Experience in the Sonoma Coast AVA. february 2014 / the tasting panel / 57 e!

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