When I came down with a severe case of enophilia in the late 1970s, I searched in vain for a reliable wine guide that recommended currently available vintages of specific bottlings from specific producers. But... they really didn't exist. Sure, I enjoyed perusing wine "encyclopedias"; these were useful reference sources but offered little in the way of explicit wine recommendations. Generalist wine guides were frequently earnest and dull, and they all covered more or less the same ground. The only real buyer's guide in those days came from the estimable English wine writer Hugh Johnson. But although his book offered vintage-specific information on the best wines of Bordeaux, buying advice on other regions of the wine world was generally limited to a relative handful of the top producers and updated only sporadically.
Not only did I read everything about wine I could get my hands on, I also did what any self-respecting wino should do: I tasted every wine I could afford to put in my mouth. To pursue this objective, I joined the International Wine Center's wine club in New York City in the early '80s, where virtually every week of the year I could taste an interesting new group of wines, often accompanied by their maker or a visiting expert: 1978 Bordeaux, a vertical tasting of Jaboulet's Hermitage La Chapelle or Serge Hochar's Chateau Musar, the best current cabernet releases from California, a horizontal tasting of 1983 Oregon pinot noirs... the list was virtually endless. I still remember the sense of anticipation that I and my fellow club members felt when we were allowed into the tasting room, filled with the aroma of wine, in which 300 glasses had just been poured.IWC grew, I found myself devoting more and more time to my publication. For more than 15 years now, wine has been a full-time activity for me.
The publication began as a 16-pager, but has steadily grown through the years. More than 22 years later, recent issues have reached 80 pages, or nearly 120,000 words of wine criticism every two months. The average issue nowadays provides detailed tasting notes and scores on more than 1,500 new wines. By the way, the electronic edition of the IWC not only includes all of the material published in the print version, but MORE. And, between the postings of each new issue, there are also special bonus features available only to on-line subscribers. The fact of the matter is that today there are more high-quality wines, from more producers and more regions, than ever before, and a publication that claims to cover the best wines from everywhere must virtually work around the clock.
There are no shortcuts taken in the IWC: every new wine, including every new vintage of a particular bottling whose past releases have been reviewed in the IWC, is tasted anew, as if for the first time. I spend about 100 nights each year visiting the most important wine-growing regions and tasting wines in the cellars, with their makers. As you will see if you take a tour of the IWC, three to five important wine categories are covered in depth in each issue. Areas of greatest interest to many wine lovers -- such as California, Oregon, Washington, Spain, Australia, Bordeaux, Burgundy and the RhÃ´ne Valley -- are covered on an annual basis (and in some cases more frequently), while other areas are covered every two years.
The articles you'll read in the International Wine Cellar are much more than simply endless lists of tasting notes. We make a point to discuss and evaluate the vintage being described, to place it within its context, and to tell you if the wines, on the whole, are worth buying. We also conduct large group tastings when this presents an efficient way to taste a large number of important wines. But we prefer to taste one-on-one with the producers we cover, for the simple reason that this allows us to provide more detailed and useful coverage of the best wines, and to bring you background information on those wines and the places they come from.
We are, first and foremost, wine lovers. I feel the same sense of excitement today when I come upon something new and great that I did 25 years ago. And it's our pleasure to bring these discoveries to your attention.