1. Was there a particular wine or experience that made you decide to pursue a career in the world of wine?
Wine seemed more interesting than personal indemnity insurance. That and a bottle of 1982 Montrose.
2. You were famously hired by Robert Parker from your wonderfully independent, self-funded wine-journal.com in 2006. Had you been aware that 'Bob' was familiar with your work?
Actually, yes. Bob was ahead of the game in that respect and read a lot of the new wine-related websites. I knew he read Wine-Journal because in 2004 I asked various wine personalities for their music recommendations. A reader in the US mentioned that he knew Bob and so I asked whether he could ask him for his musical selections. A couple of days later, I received them. I should dig it up and see what he chose.
3. After over a decade at the Wine Advocate you departed for vinous.com. What were the driving factors behind that move?
4. Is there a type or style of wine that you dislike or don't get on with?
Not really. I'm not really a Spirits man. I find whisky fascinating and would love to visit a distillery. But I can't stand the taste.
5. Can you tell us an unusual wine and food pairing from your travels?
Wine and food pairing is not something I focus on. Give me good wine and good food and 99.9% of the time I'm happy.
6. Is there an upcoming region, grape variety or style we should be looking out for?
Bordeaux. You heard it here first.
7. You have travelled extensively and have a diverse palate yet spend most of your time reviewing Bordeaux and Burgundy. Why these 'Old School' preoccupations?
I'm at a stage in my career where I know what I know, and what I don't know, I'll happily drink and enjoy. In other words, I leave other regions to people with more knowledge and experience than me. If you are going to do Bordeaux and Burgundy seriously, then you have to dedicate a majority of your time to those areas. These days, you need to be a specialist, not a generalist. But I do love South Africa and can't wait until I can go back.
8. Your award winning 2012 book 'Pomerol' broke new ground and came in at almost 600 pages. Does that make it your favourite appéllation or is there a lack of material in print?
Bit of both.
9. You seem to be as passionate about music as wine - if a fire broke out and you could only gr ab one bottle and one record what would each be?
Bottle might be a 1989 Haut-Brion that I've had for many years. Record? That's more difficult. Maybe 'A Different Class' by Pulp, an original pressing in almost mint condition with an interchangeable 'aperture' sleeve. Pretty rare these days. I bought a copy when it came out in 1995 that got damaged by moisture. I found another copy in Germany and bought a replacement this summer. I don't want to have to buy it for a third time.
10. What advice would you give a college leaver hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Don't follow anyone's footsteps apart from your own.