Archive for September, 2008

Watch the debate on Brunello!

As many of you are aware, in the wake of the recent Brunello di Montalcino scandals in Italy, the debate is heating up about whether or not the Brunello disciplinare (regulations) should be changed to allow non-Sangiovese varieties. Franco Ziliani has asked his community to pass on word of an upcoming debate.

Franco, an eminent Italian wine journalist and author of the excellent blog Vino al Vino, and Teobaldo Cappellano, traditional Barolo producer and founder of Vini Veri, will be pitted against the enologist Ezio Rivella, for many years the managing director of Castello Banfi, and Vittorio Fiore, noted consultant enologist and owner of Poggio Scalette. The debate is sponsored by Vinarius, the trade association of Italian enoteche, and will take place at the University of Siena, on the 3rd of October, at 3 PM local time. If you want to tune in, the debate will be broadcast live on the sites of the Tuscany Region and on Vinarius’s own site. It will be in Italian, but I expect there will be a number of English-language blogs with great summaries of the debate shortly thereafter (among them most certainly Jeremy Parzen’s Do Bianchi), and I’ll make sure I get them all quickly into Able Grape.

This is a critical subject, because it gets right to the heart of the purpose of wine appellations, and I, for one, will definitely be tuning in.

Spiffy new update with lots of great content

These barricas have some really great content, too.

  Speaking of really great content...

I’ve been accumulating a big list of things I want to blog about, from the great trip to the EWBC, to some outstanding recent tastings, to sharing some of the Able Grape survey results, and every day for the past couple of weeks I’ve promised myself “tonight I’m going to sit down and do some serious blogging.” I’ve even partially written a few posts. But every evening, some other task has reared its ugly head, and I’ve yet to complete any of the posts that have been running around in my head. So I wanted to dash off a brief “update” post, while I make time for more in-depth ones, to come in the next few days.

First, I wanted to thank everyone that participated in our recent survey. I really, really appreciate your taking the time to let me know what you need, search-wise. I plan to post some preliminary results in the coming days, just to share some statistics about our user community. Lots of people have since said they’d like to have done the survey. I’ll probably re-open it, though not as a contest, so that I can continue to track feedback from anyone who’d like to contribute.

Second, I wanted to post a brief “blurb” about today’s database update, along with the usual smattering of things to try. We’re up to 38,578 sites, with more than 15 million pages of content. There are dozens of new sources, and few hundred thousand new pages. Here’s a random sample: Continue reading ‘Spiffy new update with lots of great content’

Last chance to help w/survey, we REALLY want your thoughts

Just a final reminder: the Able Grape survey is set to close at the end of the day (midnight PST) this Monday, 15 September.

If you use Able Grape, and haven’t done the survey, I really would like your input. If you don’t use Able Grape because there’s something else you want from it, I really would like your input. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey; the more thoughtful replies I can get, the more useful I can make this search tool for all of us.

Plus there are some truly fantastic and rare wines I’m giving away to thank people for the very best responses.

Please also let your colleagues know — this is very important to us!

Thanks for your help!

More new features: help finding images, importers, distributors

Many of you know that the easiest way to find importers or distributors for a wine is to use a filter, e.g. Moët filtered by Trade to find importers/distributors. But I still see a fair number of queries come in like Bruno Giacosa Importer or Aldo Conterno Importer. These will look for the word “importer,” which sometimes gives good results, especially when the producer lists their importers on their site, but often misses the best results. To help with these kinds of queries, Able Grape will now suggest a filter as a query tip.

I’ve also gotten many requests for an image search functionality, and indeed I see a lot of queries coming in like Continue reading ‘More new features: help finding images, importers, distributors’

Fun experimental feature: Variety Finder

I see a lot of people trying to find out what kinds of grape varieties are used to make particular appellations or specific wines. The natural way to form a query like this would be something like Chateauneuf varieties or La Conseillante varieties — and indeed, sometimes these kinds of queries work well, especially since Able Grape recognizes some obvious synonyms for varieties (“cultivars,” “varietals,” even “cépages” or “vitigni”). But often the answer doesn’t contain the word “varieties,” it just has a list of varieties, as in “Châteauneuf is made primarily from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.”

So to help with these kinds of queries, I’ve added a little experimental feature: Continue reading ‘Fun experimental feature: Variety Finder’

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