Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sense and Sensibility

Last week, Italian wine writer Franco Ziliani (pictured above) announced that he was suspending his blog, Vinoalvino, for an indefinite time. While this may not be of great importance to most wine lovers in this country (the blog was written in Italian), I'd like to comment on this decision.

Ziliani is one of most respected journalists in Italy, not only for his hard work, but also because he believes in something. That something is the love of traditionally made wines in Italy, which he believes represent the true soul of the land and the people that make these wines. More and more producers in various regions have begun to craft their wines in an international style, emphasizing ripeness and power, while at the same time deemphasizing elegance, finesse and most of all, a sense of place.

I am in agreement with Ziliani on this, but even if you are not, you have to respect him for his diligence on this matter. You also have to respect his civility, as he carries himself in a proper manner, bringing his argument to the table in the right way. Unlike some bloggers or writers who trumpet themselves as the center of the universe, Franco never approached his work in that fashion.

My guess as to why he decided to stop his blog at this particular time is that he is a bit burned out- after all, he was writing updates five times a week. This was of course in addition to his work as a wine writer as well as a speaker. So he's earned his rest - enjoy it, Franco!

A personal note - Franco befriended me in Italy about six years ago when I wasn't that familiar with too many other journalists or producers. He came up to me at an event, introduced himself and mentioned that he would be more than happy to help me in my ventures. You don't get that too often these days and true to his word, Franco has remained a great friend, often highlighting my articles on the Association of Italian Sommeliers website. That's a real nice touch and I get excited every time I see my writings get featured on that site.

My hope in all this is that more bloggers write with the precision, determination and quality of Franco Ziliani. He updated his blog almost every day, but he had something to say. I get tired of reading blogs where it's clear that the author has little to add - he or she is merely updating because they feel they need to. In my book, less is more; there are too many wine blogs out there that offer very little in terms of opinion or news. I'm sorry, but I want to read something that's engaging - is that too much to ask? Telling me that you had a tuna fish sandwich somewhere is not of interest to anyone - keep that for your social network page or send an email, but don't update your blog just because you need more hits. Write when you have something important to say - no one is going to miss your blog if you only update once a week.

On a sad note, I just learned of the passing of Kathleen Talbert, one of my favorite people I've ever dealt with in the wine business. Kathleen headed her own PR agency, Talbert Communications in New York City and represented some pretty important accounts and people in the wine business, namely Francis Ford Coppola and his California wines.

I cold always count on Kathleen to get back to me in a timely fashion. Now while most PR people do the same, Kathleen always took that extra step. One time when Coppola visited Chicago, she was kind enough to set up some time for me to interview him, despite the fact that he had a full itinerary that day. I'm sure she must have received countless requests from other journalists for a moment or two of his time, so how nice that she helped me out with this matter.

Kathleen passed away on July 8 after a long struggle with cancer. Here is the link to her obituary in the New York Times. I will miss her deeply.


  1. I think we all share the feeling that Franco's voice will be sorely missed and I, for one, hope he'll start blogging again once he feels ready.

    Never met Kathleen but am very sorry to hear of her passing.

  2. Jeremy:

    Thanks for the nice comment. I agree with you that I hope he does start blogging again soon. We need his voice in the blogosphere!

  3. I must add, there are tuna fish sandwiches and then THERE ARE TUNA FISH SANDWICHES! ;-)

  4. Nice to see you have a good sense of humor! TUNA FISH is fine with me!

  5. Thank you, Tom. Your kind words about Kathleen are appreciated by many. She will be missed tremendously. -Amy