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Five Days of Fourteens

There will be a change of pace on Winedoctor during the next few days, as I am off to Bordeaux to taste more of the 2014 vintage. I tasted quite a few in London with the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux a few weeks ago (although it already feels like it was several months in the past – it has been a busy month). The UGC tasting included many great names, as always, but of course there are any number of interesting châteaux that do not participate, from left-bank first growths (and their neighbours who see themselves in the same light) as well as any number of worthwhile estates on the right bank, especially in Pomerol. So now it is time to top up my tasting experience of this vintage at these châteaux before I publish my in-bottle report, hopefully early in 2017.

Five Days of Fourteens

I have five days of visits lined up; that isn’t as much time as it sounds, and so they will be five busy days of mainly quick in-and-out visits purely to taste the 2014 vintage, and of course I will be sure to ask how the 2016s are looking at the moment (although I think I can predict the answers already). I do have a few longer visits lined up though, with the option to taste a broader range of vintages, so these should be interesting. I also have a free hour (and I do mean just an hour, no more) on Friday afternoon, so if anyone in or near Pomerol would like me to pop in and won’t be offended that I have only 60 minutes to spare do get in touch!

The upshot of all this is that I won’t be making behind-paywall updates for the remainder of the week, as I have learnt through experience during the primeurs that with long days of driving, tasting and scribbling (this isn’t a press trip in which I get chauffered around, wined and dined) that writing multi-page profiles and tasting reports before I start out each day just isn’t feasible. I will hopefully update the Winedr blog each day though. Provided my flight departs on time (glancing at the departure board in Edinburgh airport as I write this, no worries so far) I should be calling in later on Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Château La Mission Haut-Brion (pictured above), Château Brown and Château d’Yquem. It’s not a bad line-up for day one.

The Return of The New

There are few activities more exciting than making new discoveries, whether it be in wine or in countless other fields. It is something I get a particular kick out of, and in previous years I have highlighted some of these new additions to the site with my New in the Loire posts.

This year is to be no different, and I have a bunch of new Loire valley profiles coming up, of new domaines, of young up-and-coming vignerons, or sometimes even domaines which, despite being long-established, I simply haven’t visited before. Here’s what has just been published, and what I have in the pipeline…..

Just published:

Domaine des Haut Baigneux: an old domaine expanded and revitalised by two friends who are turning out great-value wines from under-the-radar appellations.

La Source du Ruault: another old domaine, here reanimated by the next generation, Jean-Noël Millon (pictured below), who is turning out interesting Saumur-Champigny.

Jean-Noël Millon

And some others in the pipeline:

Laurent Herlin: A young guy who left behind the world of SIM card manufacturing to take up winemaking in Bourgueil.

Domaine Jaulin Plaisantin: A domaine in Chinon to watch, born from an association between Yves Plaisantin, recently returned from the USA, and Sébastien Jaulin, old-school viticulteur.

Domaine Grosbois: Another name to watch in Chinon, where Nicolas Grosbois is turning around the family domaine.

Clos des Quarterons: Yet another name to watch in Bourgueil – I check out the wines of Thierry Amirault.

Verdier-Logel: A superb source of Gamay from the upper reaches of the Loire.

And there’s more to come. Stay tuned

Robert Parker Had It Right

Robert Parker’s reputation relied almost exclusively on three regions. There was Bordeaux, there was the Rhône Valley there was the Napa Valley. His ability to call wines as he saw them, to consistently remain true to his palate, and to enthuse about those wines he liked, from these three regions at least, resulted in a loyal band of readers and subscribers who knew they could follow his recommendations.

I know Robert Parker wrote extensively on other regions, but I am not sure how much weight these reviews carried (although I would wager it was probably more than you might think). And I know things didn’t go well in Burgundy. But that is all pretty much irrelevant. You didn’t take out a subscription for the Wine Advocate to read about the latest releases from Georgia, from the upper reaches of the Mosel, or from Burgundy or the Loire. It was when he wrote on his trio of ‘expert regions’ that you placed your trust in him. He had decades of expertise. He had a track record. And if you didn’t agree with his opinion on certain styles, he was consistent enough to still be of use as a critic. You knew where he was coming from. You knew what to buy or, alternatively, what to avoid.

I think paying consistent attention to a small number of regions, for many years, is valuable experience for a critic. You get to know which winemakers to watch, who is making waves, who has suddenly improved, whose wines are going downhill, and you get to review your assessments – and learn from your mistakes – by returning to the wines as they age. I wonder how newcomer critics parachuted into unfamiliar regions – by the journal or magazine they write for, perhaps – cope with this. When you encounter unfamilar wines, from unfamiliar styles, how do you rate them? Where is the context?

The risk is that you might rate wines too high, entranced by unfamilar flavours and different textures and structures. Or perhaps too low, being unwittingly mean as you just didn’t get the style. And there is a risk that, not tasting blind, you subconsciously award high scores to famous labels. After all, they’re wines from domaines you’ve heard of, so these must be the benchmarks, right? How easy it is, I think, to get that wrong.

Robert Parker definitely had it right. To be credible, critics should write about what they know (and love).

Loire Valley 2016: Frost Solutions

The 2016 vintage has been a very difficult one in many regions of France, and although I suppose it is inevitable that stories about the decimation of Chablis, or six famous growers combining their few bunches of grapes to make one cuvée of Montrachet (link in French), my first thought on encountering such stories is to think of all the Loire vignerons, huge numbers of whom are also facing devastated yields this year.

As I have already described in Loire Valley 2016: The Frost, many domaines are predicting a loss between 50% and 70%. During my most recent trip to the Loire I was able to add a few more data points (no good numbers I am afraid). I also learnt a little about how a couple of vignerons are planning to balance the books after more than half their crop disappeared.

Most of my visits were in Chinon, but I did call in on Philippe Boucard, of Lamé Delisle Boucard in Bourgueil. He didn’t give any predicted figures, but it was clear on the lower vineyards below the domaine they have lost almost everything. The higher vines, up the limestone slope behind the domaine were better protected. In Chinon, Olga Raffault told me she has lost 50%, although this is just an estimate and most of her peers provide higher figures.

Loire 2016

Yves Plaisantin (pictured above), of Domaine Jaulin-Plaisantin, lost between 60% and 70%, sadly this is a more typical figure. As usual it was the lower-lying vineyards they have around Briançon which were hardest hit, those up on the slopes around the domaine were protected by their position. Yves and his business partner Sébastien Jaulin have come up with one interesting solution; they have managed to source Cabernet Franc from Bordeaux (if I recall correctly, I think he said 3 hectares) which he was readying the cellars for when I visited last week. The vats, hoses and other equipment were all being subjected to a deep clean. The fruit was picked this week, driven up to the cellars in Chinon in a refrigerated truck and the fruit will now be safely fermenting in vat. Yves is a talented vigneron with a lot of experience under his belt, and I am sure the results will be worth the effort.

I also called in at Domaine Grosbois, purportedly to see Nicolas Grosbois, although I knew – having spoken to Nicolas just a couple of days beforehand – that he wouldn’t be there to meet me. I checked things out here, both vineyard and cellars, with his talented and charming oenologist and assistant Delphine. Nicolas experienced true devastation in the vines this year, as he is predicting a 90% loss. Indeed, I struggled to find many bunches on his vines (this is true of many parcels though, especially when I hunted around on the sandier sections of the Chinon vineyard later in the day between appointments). In order to keep things ticking over Nicolas has been busy in the south of France, where he has negotiated the purchase of some grapes. He was there overseeing the vinifications, hence his absence when I called.

I am looking forward to tasting both these cuvées next year. More than that, I am already hoping that 2017 brings better luck for all. The 2016 really has been a frosty, mildewy, rainy, rotty endurance test for so many of the Loire’s good people.

Domaine de la Noblaie 2016, Before the Harvest

Earier this week I spent a few days in the Loire Valley, making a few visits in Chinon and Bourgueil, and checking out the state of the vineyards prior to harvest. Most will start picking the Cabernet Franc soon, probably the second week of October.

It is going to be a very short vintage after the disastrous frost in April. But it is far from non-existent.

Domaine de la Noblaie 2016, Before the Harvest

I took a walk around the vines of Jerôme Billard at Domaine de la Noblaie. Jérôme is predicting a 20% loss, and some of his vines (like the one pictured above) are carrying a good crop. The fruit looks healthy and although I found one or two berries with really convincing flavour (usually in exposed bunches on the ends of rows) Jérôme says they need more time to ripen fully. The main problem I see in the bunches are numerous small, unripe berries which will need to be selected out. Jérôme picks by hand, so this will be time consuming but achievable.

Domaine de la Noblaie 2016, Before the Harvest

Pictured above, more healthy Cabernet Franc in the lower sections of the vineyard (still well above the alluvial plain though, where the frost hit hardest).

Domaine de la Noblaie 2016, Before the Harvest

Pictured above, some more healthy Cabernet Franc, this time on an even higher section of the vineyard, looking at vines that provide fruit for the Chiens Chiens cuvée.

Domaine de la Noblaie 2016, Before the Harvest

The main task ongoing in the vineyard during my visit was removing the grapillons, like the one pictured above. These small secondary bunches sit high in the canopy, maybe a metre above the ripening bunches pictured above, and are derived from the vine’s second flowering. In terms of ripening they are clearly lagging behind, the berries still bright green, but in a couple of weeks when harvest comes they may well have changed colour. The best course of action – before all the saisonniers arrive to pick the fruit – is to pluck them off now.

Domaine de la Noblaie 2016, Before the Harvest

The weather throughout July and August has been very dry, and yet despite that the vines still looked verdant and green. Jérôme, who manages the entire vineyard using organic methods and is fully certified, sprayed the canopy several times with an infusion of comfrey during the drought, which he thinks helped protect the vines.

Domaine de la Noblaie 2016, Before the Harvest

This final image shows an unhappy vine, but it was nothing to do with the frost, or the drought; damage to the trunk when cutting the grass did this.

There is no denying this is a difficult vintage, but despite the very short vintage there is still the potential for some verygood quality here.

Loire Valley 2016: The Frost

Earlier this year the vignerons of the Loire Valley experienced one of the worst frosts for decades, probably the most destructive since the catastrophic frost of 1991 in fact. In this terrible experience they are not alone of course, as many other regions have had a trying time this year; Chablis and other parts of Burgundy were also particularly hard-hit.

Over the coming month or two, as vignerons complete their harvest work, we will finally see the true and exact extent of the damage. Up until now the damage assessments have been nothing more than estimates, but once the vats are full (half-full is more likely I am afraid) the vignerons will know their final yields for the vintage, and we can see how these stand compared with the norm.

I will be out in the Loire Valley next week, only for a couple of days sadly, but I may be able to see a little harvesting, and perhaps pick up a few vibes. In the meantime though, here are a few data points from Bourgueil, Chinon, Vouvray and Montlouis, gleaned from some visits I made a couple of months ago.

Loire Frost 2016

In all parts it seemed as though there was considerable variation, with some losing a vast proportion of their crop, others losing a ‘mere’ 20%. Jérôme Billard (pictured above) of Domaine de la Noblaie was one of the lucky ones (if you can call any of this ‘lucky’).

“I knew 2016 was going to be difficult, as we had such a mild winter. It was so mild that our almond tree, which sits in the courtyard of the house, flowered on December 26th. The frost came at a tricky time as we have had a string of short vintages, the four preceding vintages being variable in quality but all were 30-40% smaller in terms of volume than what we were hoping for”.

The frost only affected the lower sections of Jérôme’s vineyards; above the tree line which separates the upper slopes from the vines on the plain there was no damage. Total loss across the entire domaine was estimated at between 10% and 20%. The problem in Jérôme’s eyes was not solely the frost though, as subsequently he had mildew on leaves and berries, and also a touch of black rot. He deleafed (and planned to green harvest too – this will have been done long ago now), and when I visited in July the vines were looking in rude health.

Loire Frost 2016

Elsewhere in the region his peers were not always so fortunate. On the other side of the Vienne, Matthieu Baudry lost 50% in total. Mirroring Jérôme’s experience the worst-hit vineyards were those on the terraces, and any lower flatter land (so Les Granges and Les Grézeaux then), where the loss was estimated at 70%. The damage was less significant on the slopes. Anne-Charlotte Genet of Charles Joguet gave a similar report, estimating loss of 60% of the crop. Up the road just past Bourgueil Benoit Amirault (pictured above), the son of Yannick Amirault, was singing from the same hymn sheet.

“We had no frost on Le Grand Clos, which is positioned well up the slope. But we had lots of damage secondary to the frost elsewhere. The vines worst hit by the frost were those on the terrace, below the road. Overall we lost about two-thirds of the crop to the frost”.

Moving upstream to Vouvray and Montlouis, François Chidaine (the focus of my tasting report today) lost 70% of the crop in Montlouis, 50% in Vouvray and 80% on his Touraine vineyards. Whichever way you look at it, that’s another massive blow for François. Similarly, Jacky Blot reported losing about 70%. Vincent Carême, meanwhile, considers himself fortunate to have lost perhaps 20%, no more than that. His estimate may perhaps be a little more accurate than others because he has frost insurance (I am not sure about the others – I confess I didn’t think to ask) which means he has undergone a vineyard inspection by an assessor. Vincent also told me that François Pinon’s vineyards were very badly hit, which would be disastrous. If I see François anytime soon, I will check this out for myself.

Now, as spectators, all we can do is wait to see how the harvest goes. If I learn anything new during my visit I will post it here.

The Three Ages of The Bordeaux Drinker

I think I may have entered my third age as a Bordeaux drinker.

If you’re not familiar with the three ages of the Bordeaux drinker, don’t worry, neither is anyone else. This is because I just invented it earlier today, in a moment when my mind was wandering more than it should have been.

The defining moment that separates the first and second ages of a Bordeaux drinker comes when he or she encounters and becomes interested in the wines for the very first time. At that point there is an ‘entry vintage’ at which one dives into the region. It doesn’t have to be a massive en primeur purchase of thirty cases, a few bottles will do. It just has to be enough to connect you with the vintage, so that you experience the wines in their youth, before – provided you bought more than one bottle – you can then come back to the vintage again (and again) in the future.

This vintage draws a line in the sands of time (no-one can ever accuse me if not mixing my metaphors). Wines that were made before the ‘entry vintage’ are only ever experienced as they head towards maturity, without any understanding of how they tasted when young. These vintages belong to your more educated peers, but this is your ‘first age’, wines which you can only experience in retrospect, each one that comes along a little glimpse into this walled-off era. After the ‘entry vintage’, however, these vintages are yours. This is your second age, an era of vintages and wines you know much better. You meet them in their youth (and your youth!), and follow them through the years, as they mature.

Bordeaux

There comes a moment when the second age transitions into the third. This moment is, I think, more difficult to pin down, because we all jump in at different levels when we start, and we all have differing volumes of mature wine in our cellar. The third age begins with the realisation that our entry vintage, the vintage that we once aspired to, is now the vintage that we should drink. I don’t think there is one exact moment this happens, it is perhaps more of a gradual realisation, and I suppose it depends on when you consider a wine ‘mature’. For some it might be ten years. I think Bordeaux of decent quality develops well over a much longer time span than that, at least fifteen or twenty years, and in some cases of course much more. Regardless of how we define it, by now I am certainly securely into my third age. I have watched the young vintages that drew me into Bordeaux develop from embryonic, tannic young wines into mature wines that demand drinking.

The third age should be the era in which we can buy with the greatest confidence, as having had this experience surely brings a deeper knowledge of the region, a greater level of trust in our own palates, and perhaps the confidence to buy based as much on our own beliefs and palate self-awareness as much as the vintage reports, tasting notes and scores coming out of Bordeaux. Sadly, I am not sure my own third age is progressing as I once imagined it would. The problem is, with Bordeaux pricing as sky-high as it is, I think this confidence and self-awareness is now more often directed more towards finding good-value alternatives to Bordeaux, rather than the best the famous (and expensive) châteaux of Bordeaux can give us. But that is a story for another time, I think.

Being Organic gives no Score Advantage

A recently published UCLA study of eco-certified wine quality has generated a bit of discussion this week, with both positive and negative reactions. Jamie Goode describes the paper and some of its flaws well here, while Blake Gray’s article focuses on score inflation and, to me, feels much less rational. Indeed, the opening line of Blake’s article seems to purposefully conflate the notions of statistical mean and a wine being “average”, and I have to ask myself, to what purporse?

The study purports to show that eco-certified wines obtain higher scores in three influential wine publications (Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast). It’s a really jumbled up paper; there are results described in the methods, the authors enter into discussion when describing their results, tables are poorly described, important results are squirrelled away in an appendix, and so on. Apologies to the authors for expressing this opinion (which is based on first-hand experience writing and reviewing scientific papers, by the way), but The Journal of Wine Economics really needs to go back and see who reviewed this paper prior to publication. And then consider whether or not they were doing their job properly. It’s an interesting paper, but it needs further editorial review and a bit of a rewrite.

This makes it difficult to read; all the same, I spent an hour or two trying to pick it apart this morning. The paper has been reported as producing a 4-point rise in scores of eco-certified wine. As Jamie pointed out, this isn’t true because of the score conversion the authors undertook in order to line up the three publications, which had different score distributions. The true result is actually buried in an appendix, which is that the regression method suggested being eco-certified gave wines a 0.46-point advantage. Just less than half a point, in other words, for all that hard, organic, biodynamic work.

That isn’t the end of it though. This half-point result was arrived at through a statistical method known as regression, in which the authors attempted to develop a model which explained the scores of the wines. Regression (of any sort) is a statistical method which should be viewed with a very wary eye. While being eco-certified conferred an advantage when analysed in this manner so did other factors, while other factors had a negative effect on score, some of which can be interpreted in really interesting ways but which I don’t want to digress on here.

These negative factors may be very important. Why do I say that? Here’s why; despite the way in which the results have been presented by the authors, and by the press who have seized upon the eco-favourable result – eco-certified wines actually scored lower in the three publications. Eco-certified wines scored 47.8% (on the author’s scaled system) whereas conventional wines scored 50%. And this didn’t appear to be statistically significant, (or at least the authors didn’t state one way or the other), and to me it seems this is the most reliable aspect of the paper. But writing “eco-certified wine scores no different to conventional wine scores” isn’t much of a headline, is it?

Summer Break: Chinon Time

The sun is shining (intermittently, to be honest) over the vineyards of Chinon today*. I know this not because I have looked up the latest méteo report, but because I can feel its warm rays on my skin. I’m at the start of my summer break, and rather than flying out to India or the Algarve for my holiday, I’m staying within sight of Chinon’s famous château pictured below (taken with my mobile phone – which accounts for the grainy quality), literally from my front gate. So you could call it a busman’s holiday, I suppose.

As you would expect, I have a few appointments lined up, to see Jérome Billard at Domaine de Noblaie, Anne-Charlotte Genet at Charles Joguet and Matthieu Baudry at Bernard Baudry. And I will be looking further afield too; it wouldn’t be a trip to the Loire Valley without calling in on Vincent Carême of course. There will be other visits as well, but I will be making these other appointments over the next week, provided the vignerons I hope to visit aren’t on their summer holidays of course.

Chinon

I have only been here since Saturday evening, but I have already eaten out in Chinon, a selection of escargots, rognons and ris de veau (not all on the same plate I hasten to add) washed down with the 2012 Cuvée de la Cure from Charles Joguet. Of course, Joguet is a domaine I already know quite well, and the same could be said of Chinon and its vineyards, so during this ‘break’ I hope to get in my car and explore some parts of the Loire Valley I am less familiar with; I have plans to head up to Jasnières and the Coteaux du Loire, and perhaps Cheverny too. While in the evenings I will wash away the dust of the day with as many examples of Chinon from the 2014 and 2015 vintages as is humanly possible (I have already made a start on this).

After two weeks in Chinon I plan to head upriver to Sancerre, a region I also know well although I have never passed more than a couple of days there; on this visit, however, I will be staying there for a week. Again, I have some visits lined up, and some yet to be made. This means I will be back in the UK updating Winedoctor in three weeks time, hopefully refreshed and ready to go. In the meantime I hope all readers, subscribers or not, enjoy some good wine and hopefully some good sunshine too over the next few weeks.

*Anyone in Chinon on Monday, on reading this and looking up at the grey and drizzly skies, will see this as a lie. But the sun was shining when I wrote it on Sunday afternoon, honest.

Don`t be a Woolworths

Many years ago I had a Saturday- and holiday-job in Woolworths. I worked there on-and-off from the age of 15, right through my years at high school and for quite a few years when I was at university too. I finally left when I was perhaps 21 or 22 years old; I can’t be sure, because in the end it sort of fizzled out, as I didn’t have enough time left to fit any hours in. Something to do with studying medicine, I think.

For those unfamiliar with Woolworths (which is not the same as the Australian retail chain of the same name), it was a stalwart of the British high street for decades. Having started out as a grocers, by the end of the 20th century it was a jack of all trades. You went to Woolworths if you were shopping for childrens’ toys, women’s clothing, confectionery – the pick’n’mix was legendary – or music, in the days of vinyl. You could also find gardening equipment and plants, electrical goods, hardware and seasonal wares. On occasion you would find motoring accessories, which would disappear as soon as they were added to the range. It didn’t sell groceries any more, but weirdly there was a delicatessen. It was a one-stop shop, handy if you were popping out for a rake, 30-denier hosiery and some sliced ham.

To say the store lacked focus would be an understatement. Everything in Woolworths was sold by other retailers, usually more specialised retailers that offered greater choice and better prices. These other retailers had in-store expertise, and if you were looking for advice on the hedge trimmer you were considering buying you would probably believe what these specialists told you much more what the Saturday boy (i.e. me) in Woolworths told you. Ultimately Woolworths went bankrupt, an inevitable demise hurried along by the arrival of the internet and more efficient online retailers.

So what?

Well all this came to mind recently when, in discussion, the topic of converting wine words into pennies, in other words how to turn wine writing into a viable money-making exercise, came up. The conversation was prompted by this piece, by Richard Hemming (who writes very well), but to be fair it is an old topic with no great answers. Wine writers and wine bloggers have been chewing it over for years at one conference or another.

I don’t recall ever being asked for advice on this matter, despite having run Winedoctor for 16 years, with a good level of advertising revenue for much of that time, but more significantly having converted to a subscription model for the last three of those years. And so I am apprehensive about the notion of throwing any advice out there; it is almost certain to be flawed, and it will inevitably be limited in scope, applying well to me and my circumstances, my dreams and aspirations, but not necessarily to anyone else and their hopes and plans. There are many behaviours and decisions that engender success in any business or profession, from medicine to law, from plumbing to political reporting, but to keep this simple here is one key piece of advice.

Don’t be a Woolworths.

The problem is, I think, is that many (perhaps all?) wine writers are curious and open-minded folk. They enjoy the diversity of wine, and drift easily from one concept, style or wine region to the next. One week it is all Burgundy and Barossa, the next spice-infused Barolo Chinato and quevri-fermented Saperavi. Writing about all these subjects is a little like Woolworths trying to sell gardening equipment and women’s hosiery and the Top 40 and Christmas decorations and chocolate all in one shop, and somehow expecting to become a ‘go to’ retailer, as if it were Amazon selling books, or Apple selling phones and music, or Tesco selling crap food. Whether a writer who does this adopts an authoritative tone (old school writing), or that of the exploratory traveller taking a reader on a journey (the chummy blogger), the reader can ultimately probably get the same information (or better) elsewhere, on other blogs, social media or even from their mates down the pub (provided it is a pub that sells Barolo Chinato). Unless there is an inherent draw to your writing regardless of the subject matter (i.e. you are Hugh Johnson or Andrew Jefford) readers aren’t being given a reason to come back to you.

I would suggest if a writer wants to improve their earning capacity, one way (note – it is not necessarily the only way – I wouldn’t dare suggest that) is to specialise. Be focused, and become known for a certain region, or a certain wine theme which runs through these regions. Become a recognised voice on Bordeaux, or Georgia, or Oregon. Develop a reputation for knowing everything there is to know about natural wine, biodynamics, wine science or grape varieties. Explore every detail, and do so with passion.

This is what I have tried to do with Winedoctor, although looking back I let my heart rule my head and decided to specialise in two regions, Bordeaux and the Loire. On reflection, I should perhaps have been even more hard-headed, and decided on just one or the other. I enjoyed the contrasts between the two regions, and also the comparisons (there are more similarities than you might at first imagine), perhaps too much to let go of one or the other. Nevertheless, I know some subscribers feel reluctant when they only want Bordeaux scores, or Loire profiles, and feel they are paying for something they won’t use. On the other hand, I have had feedback from Bordeaux-interested readers who have been grateful for finding some Loire values, so perhaps this glitch in my plan (as if I had much of a plan!) wasn’t such a bad thing after all. And the fact that I have managed to successfully sell my words to paying subscribers, with still climbing subscriber numbers I might add, suggests to me that the course of specialisation I have followed is one that is valid.