Continuing our Interview Week coverage here at WWB, many of you know that I write for International Wine Report, covering Washington, Oregon and portions of California. I first met Joe D’Angelo, founder of International Wine Report, in 2015. Joe’s history in wine goes way back to his childhood, growing up in an Italian-American family. His wine education continued into young adulthood and in 2004 the New Jersey native launched TheWine-Insider.com. With the success of this publication, Joe found the need to expand in order to a cover a larger audience — which marked beginning of what is now known as the International Wine Report. In 2009, Joe began his new platform designed to meet the demands of an international audience, writing independent reviews and covering wines from all regions around the world, mainly focusing on the wines of Italy, United States, France as well as Germany and South Africa. Joe also continues to travel to Italy, France and California to taste and discover new wines. I think you will really enjoying hearing Joe’s story in wine. Follow him on Instagram. Here is my interview with Joe D’Angelo, executive editor of International Wine Report.
WWB: How did you first become interested in wine?
JD: I wish I could just give you a specific date, but I’ve had an interest in wine for as long as I can recall. I can remember times at family gatherings, before I was even the legal age to consume alcohol, watching my relatives drinking and talking about wine around the table, I would be sitting there in awe, just wishing I could take part. Finally, when I became old enough to drink, I was able take part in these discussions. I can recall drinking some older Italian wines, Barolo and Amarone and an ’82 Leoville Las Cases which stands out. At the time I didn’t really know much about it, other than it was Bordeaux, expensive and pretty damn good. This was one of the earliest specific wines I can recall and it really began to peak my interest on the subject. However, it didn’t last long, I was still young, was more interested in having fun socially with friends, rather than discovering the newest vintage of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Nonetheless, I would still find time to enjoy wine at dinners etc, but it wast until a few years later that I settled down and the wine bug took over.
As time passed, I continued to taste wines from all over the world and the more I tasted these different wines the more interested I became. I would travel, read magazines, books and anything else I could do to learn a thing or two. I began to write all my tasting notes down in a notebook, but quickly realized I need a better place to document all this. Long story short, with a background in IT, I came up with a platform to store my documentation on all the wines I was tasting, and this was essentially the beginning of the International Wine Report.
WWB: How did you decide to start International Wine Report?
JD: Honestly, IWR was not something I intentionally started. As mentioned earlier, I need a place to document the wines I was drinking, and with a background in IT, I came up with a website to document all my tasting notes and called it “The Wine-Insider”. Slowly but surely this this started to gain recognition and through analytics etc, I noticed people visiting the site and reading the reviews. I realized I had something quite interesting happening, and decided I could do even more with this. Around 2010, I developed a totally new plan, this time with an audience in mind which needed a more robust platform, and I called it The International Wine Report.
WWB: You provide some extensive coverage of some of the sought after regions of Italy, including Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino. Can you talk about what you look for in a great Barolo and Brunello and how you typically come to your conclusions when reviewing those great regions?
JD: Growing up in an Italian household I’ve always had a love for all things Italian, wine being one. I’ve been tasting Barolo and Brunello for quite some time now, and the wines are some of my favorite to taste as well as collect. Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, although completely different, can share some similarities between the two. Many have even confused the two in blind tastings, I can't deny myself being one. That being said, a lot of the characteristics I look for in a young Nebbiolo or Sangiovese are pretty similar. When tasting the wines young upon release you can typically get a better picture from young Brunello, since it is a bit more evolved, being that wine requires a minimum of 5 years age and 6 years for the Riserva’s before release, you don’t get that luxury when tasting Barolo. A young Barolo can be released sooner after harvest and the wines can be more restraint at this early stage. While there are different qualities I look for between the two wines, the core components are pretty basic, quality of fruit, structure and acidity. I believe these are the essential components of a well-made, age worthy wine.
WWB: You’ve been working hard on your Napa Report covering the 2015 Vintage. What are some of the producers that we should watch out for?
JD: I have, and will continue to spend a great deal of time on this Napa report. Starting with the 2015 vintage I plan on putting much more focus on Napa Valley, and this report will be the most comprehensive IWR has ever released on Napa. I have been tasting some incredible wines from the vintage and there is no shortage of great wines, most all which are already drinking remarkably well. That being said, I still have quite a few wines waiting to be tasted, but there are so many producers making great wines from the vintage, and generally speaking, the wines have been pretty stellar across the board. I think they will be great for drinking early while waiting for the 2016’s. I look forward to releasing the full report on the 2015’s this Fall.
WWB: What are some of your epiphany wines and what is your wine cellar like?
JD: As far as my cellar, over the years I worked on building a pretty diverse collection, which is now somewhere around 2-3K bottles give or take. My collection is a litter younger than most other collections out there, that being because all the wines I had purchased earlier in life, which would now be 15-20+ years in age, were all used to develop my palate. Although, I certainly wish I still had them, the benefit of tasting them and developing a strong palate for all varietals was priceless and without doing so IWR would likely not exist today.
I enjoy drinking wines from anywhere in the world and my cellar reflects that, you can find just about anything in there if you did deep enough. My favorite wines to drink older are Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa, Barolo and Rhône, so that is what I have been focusing on collecting lately. As far as an epiphany wine... Of course, there is the '82 Las Cases which I can remember like yesterday, and at the time completely changed the way I looked at wine. However, my fondest memories involving wine were the experiences I had; who I was with, where I was at, the specific moments in my life, and the people I met along the way. For me that is what wine is really all about.