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In This Issue
 Meet Jancis Robinson

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Meet Jancis Robinson

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.

If you would like to talk about Jancis Robinson, wine writers in general, or any other wine topic, you're invited to join in an interactive, international online discussion on our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where this article is featured at

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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