Meet Jancis Robinson
The British winescribe Jancis Robinson - Master of Wine and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) - is one of the world's most prolific wine writers, making the easily verifiable claim that she has written "millions of words about wine" (and probably uttered nearly that many more on radio, television and in public appearances).
She is also surely among the world's most popular wine journalists, boasting a clear, informative and entertaining writing style in books and articles that qualify as literary essays, going far beyond mere tasting notes and wine-buying guides.
Perhaps most telling, it is difficult to find a wine enthusiast who does not admire Ms. Robinson, a condition that stands in clear contrast to some of the more controversial popular American and French wine commentators, who seem to attract critics as vocal as their fans.
Chances are most of you know Jancis Robinson and her writing as well as I do, but I re-introduce her today for two reasons: She has asked our help in promoting the Geoffrey Roberts Award, a scholarship that provides an international travel budget up to £3,000 (about US$5,000) for researchers conducting serious studies related to wine, food and travel; and, in the process of our E-mail conversation, I learned that she has also recently updated and redesigned her excellent Website,
The Geoffrey Roberts Award
According to a news release provided by Ms. Robinson, this special annual award commemorates the life and work of the late Geoffrey Roberts, a wine importer based in London. It has been made annually since 1996 to a deserving potential achiever in the worlds of food, drink or travel, continuing Geoffrey's lifelong encouragement of excellence in these related fields.
In previous years, the Geoffrey Roberts Award has brought farmers' markets to Australia; yielded a brand-new Somerset cheese; funded research into the effects of vineyard altitude on the longevity of wine drinkers; and dramatically increased our knowledge of Eastern European indigenous grape varieties.
The Award is run by a London-based registered charity whose trustees include Neville Abraham CBE and Nicholas Lander of Financial Times. Anyone may apply regardless of age, experience or nationality. Information on applying, and a downloadable (rich-text format) application form will be found online at
"If you are a visitor of longstanding you may get quite a shock to see so much white space and so little yellow-green," Ms. Robinson wrote of the recent redesign of her Website, which she now considers her principal wine-writing activity. "You are warmly invited to explore the new site which has been designed expressly to make it even easier to use."
The Robinson site is divided into two parts: Free contents, plus the paid-subscription-only "Purple Pages."
There's plenty of subtance on the free side, including a regular "Wines of the Week" feature (this week's topic is "Inexpensive Viognier"); wine news, including links to her recent articles in Financial Times and other publications (currently featured, a downloadable 14-page article on 2003 Bordeaux by the merchant Bill Blatch); food news written by her husband, food writer and restaurateur Nick Lander; plus travel tips, her recommended wine-related Web links, information about her books, and an extensive, readable biography.
The Purple Pages are updated frequently, apparently several days a week, and include an eclectic combination of news, essays, tasting notes and submissions from readers. Recent updates include such diverse topics as "Some bizarre new wine specialities" and "Watered wine continued" (Jan. 12); "The perfect wine list" (Jan. 6); "Australia's two greatest Chardonnays" (Jan. 5), and "Bordeaux 1999s: how do they look now?" (Jan. 1).
Subscriptions aren't cheap - online access for all articles to be published during the calendar year 2004 costs £49 - around $85/€79 - but based on content and value, I'd take it in an instant over Wine Spectator or Robert M. Parker Jr.'s Wine Advocate at comparable prices.
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Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004