A year ago during a long weekend here on the coast I decided to start sharing my blather on this blog. Fittingly, a year later I have returned to the same spot and again have time on my hands to reflect on this year gone.
The Internet is an amazing thing: the blog has had over 16,600 hits and 5,500 daily visitors, from exactly 80 countries (and nearly half of those hits and visitors in 2016). Now judging by my spam filters a number of these are bots that want to sell me pills that will transform my lovelife or generous chaps in Africa offering me an inheritance in return for some modest lawyers fees, but even so I am pleased with those 80 countries (it would be fascinating to know what you guys make of my ramblings in Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovinia, the Ivory Coast, Greenland, and Sri Lanka – drop us a comment!).
Not that I haven’t worked at it. This is my 350th entry, just shy of a post a day (and add in the pages etc), and I have made a proper nuisance of myself on twitter, 3,386 tweets, or nearly 10 a day. To be fair the posts are generally pretty short and sweet – generally just my thoughts on a wine, a link I have seen or a bit of general blather.
Looking at the stats though I see that the top posts in terms of hits are the ones that get worked on a little bit:
- Jerez and Terroir by Jefford and Others. A collection of writings on a subject that deserves some study.
- Taberna der Guerrita – my tribute to a legendary spot with a big fan club (apparently)
- You win somm, you lose somm – my tribute to the geniuses that make wine and food taste better
- The magic numbers: the big one – a follow up tribute to the marketing genius of Equipo Navazos
- Vintage Chic – a heartfelt plea for more vintage sherries
Anyway, it really hasn’t felt like an effort to write. As I noted early on, it becomes a bit of a virtuous circle: the blog encourages me to try more different wines, and when I try them to focus on them more, which increases the enjoyment and makes me want to try more wines, etc etc. While it is a lot of wine from one region, the variety of styles and characteristics keeps it interesting and the sheer number of tastings has clear benefits: these wines can have such an impact on first tasting that a second dip a little while later can produce a much clearer analysis of the wine; and comparing a lot of different wines of the same style in quick succession can be instructive.
In addition to the general improvement in appreciation there have been some highlights:
- Pagos, Albariza, Palomino and the wines they can produce – took the absolute cake. A mind enlarging day that changed the way I look at these wines.
- The night of the Pitijopos (and six days later) – was a real privilege to try this fantastic experiment in terroir with the boys.
- The sherryTT: a twitter tasting of palo cortados with Sherrynotes – was a really fun way of tasting and swapping notes on some wonderful wines (my tweets here)
- Lustau Almacenistas in Taberna Palo Cortado – another brilliant night and a great tasting
- A fantastic dinner with my Madrid crew with some special wines (admittedly not sherries)
In fact it has been a great year. The blog has helped me get in touch with and even get to know other bloggers, bulletin boarders, tweeters, sommeliers, distributors and, best of all, winemakers. Really top quality people from whom I have learned (and with whom I have drunk) a lot. In particular, I have received a lot of restaurant recommendations: I started writing down a few of my favourite haunts for sherry drinking but thanks to comments and messages received since it first went up the list has now morphed into a list of 57 restaurants around Madrid, Spain, Europe, the US, and the Pacific. The recommendations that have come in have been cracking, and the page with list is the most visited and most commented on part of the blog.
More importantly, the blog has lead me to try different styles of wines and broaden my horizons in general. This time last year I had never heard of los Sobrinos de Haurie (or even Haurie), I hadn’t begun to discover the new horizons those two blokes are striking out towards (from Carrascal to Carrascal and beyond) and I had never set foot on an albariza pago, let alone all the great pagos. Neither had I even started to look at any of the great writing that is out there (to be honest I have still only scratched the surface – this is only a hobby blog after all).
On balance I just wish I had started this blog years ago. Anyway, a massive thankyou to all of the folk out there who have contributed to a fun first year and let’s see how we get on in year 2 …