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Hi, I’m Tim Heaton, I’m an intrepid explorer of Italy and its wines. I’m also a wine geek. I haven’t always been a wine geek, I used to be normal, you know, have some wine at a party, a simple glass or two with dinner at home, etc.; I’d never really pay too much attention to what’s in the glass.
Fast forward twenty years and it looks a little different now. In fact, it’s been so long, it’s really hard to remember my early days of wine enjoyment. These days I’m far pickier about what’s in my glass. Some might say that’s the definition of a wine snob. Perhaps.
However, I’d rather think of it as simply being more in touch with my palate. You see, in the early days, I didn’t have a “palate”, well maybe I did, it just had no refinement whatsoever, and at the time, that was just fine with me.
But times change, and as with most, my palate has changed, too. For example, when I first started to build a “collection”, it was roughly 65% California, 35% the rest of the world. Now my cellar is roughly 65% Italian, with the rest made up of equal parts from France, Germany, Spain, Austria, and California – in that order.
So, what happened in between? Well, a lot. A few European harvests, working for a large Italian importer, three years of intensive training, etc. After finishing a Masters degree in economics, I found myself still very much in the learning mode, so for the next three years I took sommelier classes with the International Wine Guild in Denver, CO. I took nearly all that they had to offer and at one point began as a teacher of (future) sommeliers.
After several years at the IWG, I was approached to consult for new retail wine shops opening in the area. I did that for a few years, eventually opening the second largest wine/spirits shop in North America (90,000+ sq ft). In addition to consulting for retail stores, I created wine lists for a good number of restaurants. I thought I knew something. Fail.
Then I began to travel, and I think that’s really when my learning really began. It’s one thing to complete dozens of classes, blind-tasting exams, etc., it’s fully another to travel to the place, learn things like proper pronunciations, actual winemaking methods (as opposed to a generalized discussion), personal and geographical histories, etc. It really brought it full circle for me. And, it was addictive. Over the next several years I’d spend nearly 18 months in Italy (mostly), France, Germany and Spain’s wine regions, including two different harvests.
Even though I’m no longer teaching, I still prefer to give back, and these days it’s in the form of Tasting Notes on CellarTracker, where I’ve posted 5,300+ notes over the past nine years (roughly a third of actual wines tasted).
When I’m not doing “wine stuff” (and sometimes when I am), I like to read about history and science, cook and do photography .
Of the 450,000+ registered users at CellarTracker, I’m currently the 10th most followed author. I’m not quite sure how/why so many people are ‘fans’, but really it’s their support that makes me want to write better and better notes; I thank them, deeply. The fact that I don’t use points/scores in my notes, well that’s really encouraging too, as most people want/expect to see that; I guess the quality of the notes stand on their own.
As for the Pundit part, well, that’s less real than Santa Claus; no one knows everything, and why on earth would anyone want to? The fun is in the discovery!
NOTE: I don’t accept samples. I don’t solicit samples. I don’t want samples.
If I wish to try a wine, I’ll do the same thing(s) I’ve done for years, buy it, or taste it at a trade event or when I visit the estate, at my own expense.
Any sample bottle(s) provided by/at the cantina will be clearly noted in the review.
If a wine can not be tasted using one of the above-mentioned avenues, I will work with a winery to taste the wine, but I don’t want PR firms sending me samples; or even contacting me. Quid pro quo are not good for the consumer. Transparency is good for the consumer.
(photo: taken of me on my way into a tasting appointment at Giorgio Pelissero’s cellar in Treiso (Barbaresco), Italy)