Blog rankings: what a Wine Blogging Wednesday can do for your blog.

I got contacted, last week, by the folks at information portal Wikio, asking me if I wanted to have a chance to post an exclusive preview of the new rankings for top food and wine blogs compiled at the end of March. I’d come up over 30 spots since the previous rankings, they said, so they figured I would probably be happy to toot my horn a bit.

Sure, I said, why not, all the while keeping in mind the limitations in blog rankings that others have previously pointed to. Now, technical issues kept me from getting the rankings in time to write my “exclusive” post on time, and now the new rankings are out for March, and I’ve gone up from 111th rank in January to 61st in February to a smashing 27th place in late March.

Woohoo, right? Weeeeellll…

The key things you have to keep in mind about this ranking are that, first, it works on an opt-in basis (The Pour, Vinography, Fermentation and many other popular blogs are not in the list because they haven’t linked up to Wikio) and that, second, it works on the basis of links, rather than traffic per se. “The position of a blog in the Wikio ranking depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs.”, it says at the bottom of the page, adding that how recent these links are is also a factor.

Now, what did I do in February and March? I hosted the 55th Wine Blogging Wednesday, on a theme called North vs South. This collective wine tasting event is very popular, meaning that several wine bloggers always relay what the new theme is, and that the dozens who actually take part then link to your blog as they post their contribution on the theme in question. So that makes for a lot of links over these last two months, for me.

Same kind of thing happened to David McDuff, who hosted WBW 54, about Piedmont, and whose blog climbed all the way up to 12th place before falling back a bit to 19th place last month. I expect to start slipping back down next month. No regrets or surprises: it’s perfectly normal that less people will link to my blog next month, compared to the central blogging event that is Wine Blogging Wednesday. WBW brought me a lot of traffic, and I’ll only keep part of it on a recurring basis, as is always the case when something makes your traffic stats spike suddenly.

So what does that do for me? Well, judging from my stats, it has brought me some extra traffic. So thanks, Wikio. But am I the 27th most read and most important blog on the Internet? No way. I just had a really good couple of months, thanks to the WBW.

Wine Blogging Wednesday 55: North vs South, just across the Loire

The North vs South theme I proposed for Wine Blogging Wednesday provides bloggers with certain guidelines (use the same grapes, so you can compare), but also with a lot of leeway. Thousands of miles of leeway, really.

If you wanted, you could pick similar wines from the other side of the world. The antipodes, really. Spanish vs New Zealand pinot noir. Or Finger Lakes vs Australian riesling. That’s as far apart as it gets.

I wanted to raise the challenge for myself (more…)

Wine Blogging Wednesday 54: How do I love Piedmont? Let me count the ways

There are so many good things about Piedmont that I could hardly have been more excited about the 54th edition of the Wine Blogging Wednesday. David McDuff’s theme, A Passion for Piedmont, was really my kind of thing.

I love just about everything about Piedmont, in every color and style. Recently, I wrote about Moscato, this Northern Italian region’s sweet little treasure, which I can’t get enough of. I keep going back to barbera, with its refreshing acidity and bright fruit that makes it such a terrific food wine. And the Pio Cesare Ornato Barolo from the 1998 vintage remains one of my best wine tasting memories ever: incredible depth, intensity, yet subtlety and softness as well.

Just last week, (more…)

Tasting Note: Pignolo 2003, Castello di Buttrio, Veneto

Italy certainly is a treasure trove of unique grape varieties. Often, these varieties were almost forgotten and lost before being revived, in the last couple of decades, by some dedicated winemakers who just knew that they could provide great wines with distinctive characteristics.

Think of the Arneis of Piedmont, this tasty white grape that hardly only Bruno Giacosa cultivated, at the turn of the 80s, before some producers decided to show what it could do. Or Falanghina, a refreshing and aromatic white grape from Campania. Or the solid wines made from Frappato in Sicily. Or my latest discovery, Pignolo, a traditional venetian grape that definitely has a lot going for it.

The Pignolo I tasted came to me as a sample from Castello di Buttrio, an estate owned by the family of Marco Felluga, and managed by his daughter Alessandra, who are seeking to expand distribution in North America – and would well deserve it.

Beyond the Pignolo, whose name (and bunch shape) evokes a pine cone, they do some very impressive whites, like a lean, bright, mineral chardonnay, and a clean, aromatic and refreshing Friulano.

The Pignolo, Buttrio’s top bottling, (more…)

California wines for Obama’s inauguration – and thoughts about wine at the White House

I have to say that Americans sure know how to throw a big party. Case in point, Barack Obama’s inauguration, which is drawing an incredible line-up of artists over these few days, and millions of people in tow, to witness this historic occasion.

It may be presumed that, at some of these functions, wine will be served.

Actually, it is certain that wine will be served, including three California wines at the Inaugural Luncheon, served for the new president, the vice-president, their wives, and 200 other members of Washington’s who’s who, in the Hall of the Capitol.

In honor of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, (more…)

Wine Blogging Wednesday 53: Would you like some Slovenian chardonnay with your breakfast?

You know, it isn’t just by chance that Jeff Stai, from the Twisted Oak Winery, wound up with the Twitter nickname Eljefetwisted. I mean, a man that calls his wines Pig Stai, Potty Mouth or River of Skulls is obviously not walking on the straight and narrow – and thank God, because his wines are all the better for it. (I tried them at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference – including The Spaniard, at the live blogging event – and thought they were really terrific).

Also, his Wine Blogging Wednesday themes are all the more… twisted for it. Which is how all the bloggers who gleefully joined in for WBW 53 are all writing about which wines you should have with breakfast. Or more precisely, with breakfast foods, no matter what the time of the day you want to have them. (Of course, having breakfast foods at night would be a little twisted, don’t you think?)

So, to start off, (more…)

Tasting Note: Capitel Croce 2002, Veneto IGT, Anselmi

Roberto Anselmi is one of the great prides of the Veneto region, and especially, of the Soave appellation. So much so that he left the appellattion.

Indeed, Anselmi thought that the authorities were not hard enough on Soave producers, when it came to ensuring quality. So instead of being associated with a level of wines he thought unsatisfactory, he moved away from the DOC and turned his wines, made from 100% garganega, into Veneto IGTs (Indicazione Geografica Tipica, a paradoxically less demanding level of appellation).

The wines remain as good, if not better, as demonstrated by the 2002 Capitel Croce, a single-vineyard wine aged in oak, that felt clearly at its peak. With its golden color, still showing a slightly greenish hue, it showed intense aromas and matching flavors of hay, honey, lime and toasted bread. Quite a mouthful, it still displayed good acidity, creating an interesting balance between a refreshing side and a full-bodied, silky texture, feeling a little waxy on the tongue. Very yummy.

This mix of fullness and acidity make it a good match for grilled salmon, with the acidity cutting through the fat and the richness wrapping around it in a lovely way.

Sold between 20 and 25$, it’s a great quality price ratio, good to drink from its release (the 2005 is currently on sale) and over several years of cellaring.

Published in: on January 11, 2009 at 11:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Gravner in the morning, arvine at noon, Sagrantino for dinner – and some thoughts about Swiss drinking and driving laws.

What an interesting day in wine tasting yesterday was.

It started out almost accidentally, when I stopped by the tasting room of Christophe Abbet, an excellent vigneron based in Martigny, in Switzerland, to get a couple of bottles of his wines to bring home to Quebec (including a bottle of the delightful Ambre, a slowly-matured dessert wine made from arvine and marsanne – but more on that later).

Christophe and I, along with my father-in-law and my brother-in-law and other friends and guests of his, had tasted several of his wines, two days earlier, and (more…)

Moscato for the Holidays

It’s a little late for Christmas wine recommendations, I realize. But it’s still early for New Year’s, so that’s still all right.

Especially when you suggest a wine that is as festive as it is (relatively) inexpensive, so much so that it could be pulled out for any excuse for a celebration.

The wine is moscato, or more precisely, moscato d’asti, the low-alcohol, sparkling, refreshing, fruity wine that is a specialty of Piemont, in Northern Italy. Made from that most aromatic of grapes, muscat, (more…)

Tasting Note: 1996 Carneros Pinot Noir, Saintsbury

The one advantage to having been held at home for the day by today’s snowstorm, instead of flying to join my family in Switzerland for the Christmas holidays, is that I got to eat dinner with my parents. A nice, quiet dinner, where we got to talk and talk, and catch up on a lot of things. Blessings in disguise.

I took the opportunity to pull a bottle out of the cellar, and knowing we were having braised veal, I figured an older wine would do nicely with the delicate flavors of the meat. When I pulled a 1996 Carneros Pinot Noir from Saintsbury out of the rack, I pretty much knew that I had my wine.

Now, if you think that a 12-year old pinot is going to be tired, think again: this wine had an incredible amount of fruit, still dominating the aromas, right after decanting. Very nice, ripe cherry, with a little bit of well-integrated, toasted oak flavors, over a silky smooth mouthfeel. Remarkably fresh, with restrained alcohol and still just enough acidity to give the wine some lift.

It went very well with the veal, and handled the more intense flavors of the parsnip and celeriac extremely well. The mix of flavors of the dish and the wine was very smooth and fine.

I tasted the wine again, at the end of the evening, and the extra hours of decanting had helped the wine develop more complex aromas, with a bit of leather, some floral components (a bit of violet), spicier notes, a touch of tobacco and some mushroomy, woodland flavors. All that with the cherry still showing well too. A bit of caramel, on tasting, and fine, fine tannins. Not incredibly deep, but obviously, a lot of fun and dimension there.

I haven’t bought any Saintsbury pinots, in recent years, but seeing that the alcohol levels are still reasonable (13.5% on the 2006 Carneros pinot noir) and that the use of wood is careful and moderate (9 months in French oak, 30% new, again for the 2006), I’d be enclined to give this wine another go. And to keep it for several years, no doubt.

Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 12:25 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,