The Outsiders rock Vinisud

There was a lot going on at Vinisud last week. More than 1600 wine producers were showing their wares in nine halls at the Parc des Expositions in Montpellier, and there many organised and themed tastings all over the place.

As one of the social media ambassadors of Vinisud our base was stand, Pavillon 2.0 (there is a clue in the name) so it was very convenient that a group of winemakers chose to organise their tasting on our stand.

But this was no ordinary group – they were The Outsiders.


The Outsiders are a group of Languedoc-Roussillon wine producers. Working in the south of France, they are creating exciting wines which make full use of the region’s highly diverse soil types, climatic conditions and grape varieties.

I had met them and tasted their wines when they visited London in November 2010 – indeed I wrote about them. So it was good to see them again.

20002 Outsiders Tasting, Vinisud 21 Feb 12

The event started with a short presentation by the charismatic Ryan O’Connell, of Domaine O’Vineyards and a very energetic proselytiser of his new found region Languedoc-Roussillon (though immediately after Vinisud he has been spirited away to Napa Valley in California).

20023 Pictures for tasting, Outsiders Tasting, Vinisud 21 Feb 12

But this was to be a tasting with a difference. Instead of written notes the participants were asked to match each wine with a picture from an eclectic selection assembled by the inspirational Louise Hurren in their tasting booklet.

In my experience many people are intimidated when asked to describe a wine, so this was a refreshing new approach to thinking about wine.

The atmosphere reminded me of a family Christmas party with the lively interaction of tasters matching the wines with the images. The only thing missing was a game of charades!

Ryan has written a pithy report of this successful event – here are some of his thoughts:

The reason for the prominence of the tasting note is largely grounded in the limitations of print media.  Limited space means we talk in pure descriptors without any conjugation.  But the Internet doesn’t pose the same challenge.  We can have infinite words and infinite photos in full colour.  And heck we can even use moving pictures, music, and other media that were previously impossible to include in printed wine journalism.  The Internet provides us with a path to escape the tyranny of the tasting note!

Do tell me what you think of this approach to wine tasting notes!

Here are photos of some of the winemakers and the keen tasters:

20005 Outsiders Tasting, Vinisud 21 Feb 1220015 Outsiders Tasting, Vinisud 21 Feb 1220016 Outsiders Tasting, Vinisud 21 Feb 1220020 Outsiders Tasting, Vinisud 21 Feb 12

3 thoughts on “The Outsiders rock Vinisud

  1. Nice one Brett.

    Interesting experiment in pictograms as the language of tasting notes.

    Be curious to see whether any one wine identifies itself with a select image or whether over the group the images were completely personal or naturally grouped themselves.

    • Thank you Arnold – it was an interestingly different approach. Ryan commented: “Some of the outsiders noted that certain age groups tended to pick certain pictures (the more daring ones) more frequently than other demographics.” I appreciate, too, Carole’s comment here – thanks Carole!

Do let me know what you think!