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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. But perhaps it’s just a realization that I know what I want to drink vs. just trying everything that’s out there.
Or, 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. It was certainly less costly.
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 76% Italian (500+ from Piedmont), with the rest made up of equal parts from France, Germany, Austria, and to a lesser extent, California (2.2%) – in that order.
So, what happened in between? Well, a lot. A few European harvests, working for a large Italian importer.. 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 38 months in Italy (mostly), France, Germany and Spain’s wine regions, including two different harvests.
So, after three full years+ of my life deep in Italy’s winegrowing regions, and another full year in France’s wine regions, I’m finally starting to learn something. It feels good.
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 (as Tim Heaton), where I’ve posted 8,600+ notes over the past 13 years (roughly a fifth 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 700,000+ registered users at CellarTracker, I’m currently the 6th 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. Also, given the fact that I don’t use points/scores in my notes, and pretty much all I write about are Italian wines. So, it’s really encouraging, as most people want/expect to see points, and most (here in the US, anyway) are interested in domestic wines. I guess the quality of the notes stand on their own, which is my goal.
Nearly all of my wines/tastings are at my own expense; it’s well beyond $100,000, now. (small sigh). If you like what you see here (I don’t monetize this blog, and all my travel is at my expense, i.e. not paid for my consortiums, etc.), please consider a Venmo donation to @Tim-Heaton-17
Any sample bottle(s) provided by/at the cantina will be clearly noted in the review.
(photo: taken of me on my way into a tasting appointment at Giorgio Pelissero’s cellar in Treiso/Barbaresco, Italy)