John Gilman is the author of View from the Cellar, a bimonthly newsletter for serious wine enthusiasts and collectors. In addition to being a wine writer, Gilman has worked in wine shops specializing in rare, old wines and he was a sommelier at several top New York City restaurants. He generously offers a free copy of his newsletter, which is how I managed to get a copy, the $120 annual subscription fee being beyond my periodical budget.
Each issue of View from the Cellar looks at several wine regions, while special-edition issues focus on particular regions or vintages. His regional perspective—based on years of tasting wines from that area’s top producers—is incredibly detailed and insightful. Despite the fact that he mainly focuses on Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa Valley, Barolo and German wines that go beyond my means or experience (which is more limited to southwestern France, the Languedoc-Roussillon region and Corsica), I still enjoyed reading about these wines.
Gilman doesn’t only write about exorbitantly priced rarities, however. His regional reports always include some excellent-value-for-price wines.
He doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to wines that aren’t to his taste. Wines judged to have too much oak, or which are too-jammy or have over-extracted fruit, are placed in a “Road-kill” hall-of-shame section. He’s also not a fan of screw-caps, arguing that these closures inevitably result in reductive wines where volatile sulfur compounds overwhelm fruit aromas and flavors.
His talented writing about wine-geeky topics such as terroir, and its effect on a particular wine grape, or how some particular fermentation process has impacted the wine, or how a certain millésime will affect the wine’s aging ability, make his newsletters interesting to read even if you cannot taste these wines. I was happy to see that the Loire Valley is also included in his regional reports. Wines from this region are quite affordable, compared to most of the regions that he covers, and we share a taste for wines from Domaine Charles Joguet. I was able to see from his detailed tasting notes that I’m probably drinking my Charles Joquet wines too early.
Anyone who wants to learn more about wine or some of the world’s top wine regions will profit from this newsletter. At least take advantage of his generous offer to review an issue for free. If he ever finds time to expand the coverage to the Languedoc-Roussillon or Corsica, I may just become a subscriber.