Getting to know: Jon Thorsen

We continue our ongoing interview series with the friends of Snooth today by introducing Jon Thorsen. Jon maintains one of the most focused blogs on the block. The perfectly named, You see Jon is out there looking for wines for himself, mostly everyday wines that offer great QPR. His tasting notes and discoveries deserve to be on everyone’s short list of references when it comes to these wines, and the occasional splurge wine but Jon is indeed a bit of a snob. Big ticket wines are simply not his focus, and while that may seem odd to some, the truth of the matter is that if you’ve gone someone searching for value among modestly priced wines you’ll find that there are plenty of terrific wines out there. 

So what drives Jon thorsen? Let’s get to know him and find out!
Snooth: How did you get involved in wine and wine writing?


JT: My wife and I decided a few years ago that we would like to start having a glass of wine each night, mainly for health reasons since there is a history of heart disease in her family. Not knowing much about wine and thinking you had to spend north of $20 a bottle to find anything good, I went on a search for affordable daily drinkers. I was rather amazed at the quantity and quality of wines available with a little effort. Thinking there were probably a lot of other people out there like me, who didn’t drink as much wine as they would like because they thought it was too expensive, I decided it would be a good topic for a blog. 


Snooth: Do you have any professional background in wine?


JT: Zero, zilch, nada. 


Snooth: What is your favorite wine region and why?


JT: Oh boy, I don’t know if I can name just one. How about I just keep it really large and say Italy? Truthfully though there are so many regions out there producing exciting wine, it’s extremely difficult to name one. From the Calatayud in Spain to Portugal to Sicily to Rhone Valley to Dry Creek Valley out in California or Columbia Valley in Washington — it’s the great thing about being a wine lover, there are so many regions to explore! 


Snooth: Desert Island wine? You have to drink it for the rest of your life so let us know why this is your choice.


JT: Well, if you’re looking for a variety here I’d have to go with Syrah because it can expressed so well in so many different ways. If you’re looking for something more specific then maybe Aglianico from Taurasi. Wait, change that to Sangrantino di Montefalco. No, make that Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero…I mean from Rioja. But I do love a good Petite Sirah from California too. We could be here awhile.


Snooth: Would you characterize your palate as new world, old world, or something in between? Why?


JT: In between I guess — I like both although I don’t make a point distinguishing between these styles as I think the average wine consumer doesn’t care, they just want tasty wine.


Snooth: What do you think of wine writing today? What do you like about it and what would you like to change?


JT: I like the way it is expanding and that there are more and more people writing with an eye towards the consumer. For too long it was mainly wine insiders writing to an audience of other wine insiders. I’m not in the wine industry, I’m just a consumer. (The Reverse Wine Snob is just a hobby for me, it’s not my day job.) And as a consumer I’m turned off by a lot of the wine writing out there as it tends to be elitist. I’m not sure that’s intentional in most cases, but that’s the way it comes off and I’m happy to see it changing gradually. and are great examples of sites talking directly to consumers and doing a great job. And as someone who works in analytics I love sites like as well. 


Snooth: What wine do you look forward to trying each year?


JT: Andrew Murray Vineyards Tous Les Jours Syrah. One of my favorites year after year. Such lovely aromas that absolutely suck you right into the glass. 


Also, the Evodia Garnacha. This wine is an absolute value superstar. Less than $10 for vines as old as 100 years? You gotta be kidding me!


On a side note, I don’t think people realize just how hard it is too make an excellent wine that retails for under $10. When you add in the cost of the labor, the bottles, the corks, labels, shipping and then tack onto that the substantial cut taken by the syndicate, I mean the distributors, and then also by retailers — there’s almost nothing left for the winery. In my mind creating a great $10 wine is a much bigger achievement and worthy of much more praise than creating a great $50 one. 


Snooth: What wine do you just not seem to like? Why?


JT: Beaujolais Nouveau. I just don’t get it. At all. Fantastic marketing though! It’s too bad you can’t transplant their marketing savvy into some of the other regions in France that have much better wine but go relatively unnoticed here in the U.S.


Snooth: Recommend three wines, a red, a white, and a rose that will tell our audience the most about your palate, your likes, and your dislikes and please share a few of those likes and dislikes.


JT: Another hard question to narrow down but I’ll give you three recent favorites.


Besides being an excellent wine the thing I really like about it is that it is made from a grape I had not yet tried, Mencia. I’ve reviewed something like 170 different varieties at The Reverse Wine Snob and I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s out there and that’s awesome.


This one is going to be hard to find as it is from Slovenia and does not have much distribution in the U.S. yet but I’m really hoping that changes. I had the opportunity to go to Slovenia last fall and I was blown away by the wines they are making, which shouldn’t be a surprise given it’s location right next to Italy and below Austria. (I was also blown away by the white wines they made back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s that are still going strong. Sauvignon Blanc from 1963, you gotta be kidding me!) 


A delightful blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Barbera from Lodi. I love the texture on this wine as well as all the wonderful fruit and then the mineral streaks on the finish. 


Jon Thorsen

Look for my book “Thumbing Your Nose At Bottles Over $20: The Reverse Wine Snob’s Guide To Buying Cheap, Quality Wine” coming on Skyhorse Publishing early 2015!


Origin: Snooth – Articles


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