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Time Marches On

One year fades as a new one approaches
Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Dec 22, 2009 1:00pm ET

It's just as important to keep your eye on what's behind you as what's in front of you. Profound wisdom from an existential truth-seeker? Or a simple thought from my high-school driver's ed teacher that still sticks with me today?

This is one of those times when the calendar signals a change in time and many reflect on the past year, or in this instance, perhaps the past decade. I caught myself writing a note to a friend yesterday, ending with see you again in 2010, startled a bit on how fast the past year and decade had gone.

In many respects we now know where we are in the wine world, after a whirlwind decade of exciting wines. Today I wonder if some of the wine excesses of recent years—riper, oakier, pricier wines in supersized bottles—have set the stage for the correction that many call the new normal and, hey, get used to it. One thing you can count on is change, even as it manifests itself in many different, unpredictable and unimaginative ways.

There are many ways to size up and dissect the major trends of the past decade (and your thoughts are welcome) and certainly the World Wide Web has been key to one of the main engines that drives the market: consumer education and enlightenment.

When I began writing an Internet column for WineSpectator.com in 1996, the term blog didn't really exist. At times it seemed as if I were writing into a vaguely defined cyberspace vacuum, and then slowly I met new readers, and longtime readers caught up. For wine lovers, the Internet is an essential venue for the dialogue and exchange of opinions among us, allowing (for the most part) a civilized discussion among hobbyists and professionals alike.

Two weeks ago I was in Mexico on vacation and after only 40 minutes on the ground and 10 in a rental car, I had my first traffic ticket in 30 years (and the first ever for allegedly running a red light; sure my driver's ed teacher would have been proud). I paid the Federale $40 for my freedom (he said it would only cost $20 if I came back the next day when the police station opened). Where was I going in such a hurry? Looking for a wine shop, just out of curiosity (and found a nice selection of Argentine and Chilean wines in a big-box store called Mega).

My thoughts today turn also to cleaning my offices, and I'm sure I'll find something more exciting to do than that. I always do. This time of year most of my colleagues take a break of sorts and then we'll return in the New Year. And for some of us, we will ask ourselves about our lives and the future and perhaps contemplate what else we might do with our lives and careers. And then most of us will decide that we'd rather be doing this more than anything else.

Enjoy the holidays. 'Tis the season of sharing, so share your best wines with your best friends. 2010 is just around the bend.

Scott Saiki
Redding, CA —  December 22, 2009 6:00pm ET
Cheers Jim - Hope 2010 finds you fly fishing with a glass in hand!
James Laube
Napa, CA —  December 22, 2009 6:06pm ET
Good advice, Scott. Which hand?
Jim Gallagher
Jim Gallagher —  December 22, 2009 6:28pm ET
Jim,

Sorry about your ticket. It is a bummer to be cited as well as embarrassing. As to the self assessment, that is a good thing particularly when the conclusion points in the direction you're headed. Thanks for your contribution this past decade.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  December 22, 2009 6:38pm ET
It was frustrating, my Spanish vs. his English, but I'm sure I've gotten away with many other unintentional violations over the years...Had there been an instant replay camera at the cite the call on the highway probably would have been upheld...
Eugene Kim
Houston, TX —  December 22, 2009 9:19pm ET
Your top 5 wines of the past decade?
Costa, Renato Martins
Sao Paulo/Brazil —  December 23, 2009 12:45pm ET
James: Merry Hollidays, good health and great discoverys in the wine world in 2010. Speaking of that, wich was your great peak this year, your pleasant surprise, drinking or tasting? Cheers!!
Renato
John B Vlahos
Cupertino Ca. —  December 23, 2009 1:41pm ET
James, by implication you raise a good question. What do you see as the "new normal" in wines in the comming years?
Jonathan Rezabek
Chandler, AZ —  December 23, 2009 1:45pm ET
Jim,
Let me know if you want to switch jobs with me...I could learn to appreciate those CA monsters you taste.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  December 23, 2009 6:57pm ET
James, as much as I like the redesign of the website I really hate the fact that the editor blogs have been subjugated by the rest of the content. It seemed that under the old site my RSS feed always alerted me to any new blog postings, and that by going to the main page I could scan all of the editors' blogs (not just the top 5 or so) in a few seconds. I must be one of those ADHD wine consumers that just can't stand making one more click to see what he used to see. PLEASE get the powers that be to put the editor blogs back on par with the flashy new window at the top. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. Dana, are you reading this? HELP! (FYI, I absolutely LOVE the wine search engine. It's everything I ever asked for, and so I have hope that this request will be given consideration too). Best, Troy
Dana Nigro
New York, NY —  December 23, 2009 7:14pm ET
Hi Troy,

We still offer the RSS feeds for the blogs. However, when we launched the new site, the URL structure changed. Have you tried updating by going to our RSS page: www.winespectator.com/display/show/id/rss?

As far as the homepage placement of the blogs, we recently expanded that from 3 featured items back up to 4 or 5 items each day. That typically ends up being the most recent one from each editor currently blogging, though if someone hasn't blogged in several days, it will drop off. That's pretty much on par in number and approach with what we used to do.

Also the main blog page changes to show the bloggers in the order of their most recent post date, instead of alphabetically, to better help you see who has updated recently.

I hope that helps clarify things.

Dana
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  December 24, 2009 5:58pm ET
Awesome Dana! The RSS feed on the blogs is working! Thanks!
Michael Myette
Sacramento, CA USA —  December 25, 2009 2:35pm ET
Jim,

Here's to the new decade (though officialy it doesn't start until 2011) and all the great times and wines to come.

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