Pressed for Sound: Ned Goodwin

In fine restaurants and wine bars across Tokyo, one man’s name is uttered in hush reverence by patrons and staff alike. His name is Ned Goodwin and he is Japan’s lone Wine Master, an individual with a PhD-level education in the fine arts of oenology, the process of wine-making and the fine study of wines. He’s singlehandedly trained the top sommeliers in Tokyo, continually criss-crosses the globe evaluating the finest wines in the world and brings this knowledge back to Tokyo – his selections complementing the finest cuisine in the city with the world’s highest concentration of gourmet restaurants. Wine is serious business for Goodwin, and we also discovered, so is sound.

“A longtime audiophile, I have tested numerous speaker / amplifier combinations in a typical Japanese environment one spacious living room surrounded by a litany of smaller rooms.” Not just an oenophile, Goodwin has a penchant for the sonic – his swagger and rock & roll demeanor evidence of his love for volume and clarity – adjectives that he offers up as invectives for his most favored wines.

Tokyo is a tough sell for many music lovers – living spaces are small – not to mention pricey – and often don’t offer the acoustic room and reverberative qualities that resonate with music lovers. The same can be said for much of the high end audio equipment sold in Japan. In Ned’s words, “Either the power is too much or, in the case of downsized equipment, lacking the clarity and purpose of sound at lower volumes.”

As the millions of residents of Tokyo and visitors to the world’s largest city know, size isn’t everything – attention to detail can win the day anytime… or, in Tokyo, every time. This, it turns out, is the problem with so many contemporary audio components, according to Goodwin: “Either the power is too much, or, in the case of downsized equipment, lacking the clarity and purpose of sound at lower volumes.”

Contrary to the usual problems associated with compact audio gear, Goodwin weighed in on the Ologe ONE speaker system – our lowest price point speaker -over a chilled bottle of fine Riesling and offered up glowing remarks. “Miraculously, when trialling the speakers, I was not only taken by the sublime aesthetics, functionality and simplicity of design, but most of all, I was utterly gobsmacked by the pristine outlay of sound that filled every crevice of my living space.” High praise from an aesthete, but moreover a critic.”‘More’, I muttered to myself.”

As for Ned’s recent efforts, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. His most recent venture, Wine Diamonds, is a collaboration between some of Japan’s most forward-thinking wine professionals and the new zeitgeist of great wine estates in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Wine Diamonds champions the artisanal, the innovating and the iconoclastic – those working tirelessly to push boundaries and in doing so, to elevate their wines to the highest level.

Not merely satisfied with that which is quantitatively and qualitatively known,  Goodwin is a rare breed – pushing wine culture forward to explore brave new worlds of taste and refinement. His lifework is admirable. Luckily, he bestowed equally as high praise upon the Ologe ONE, namely, “My quality of life had improved due to this small, but precise and beautiful piece of equipment.”

More fine praise is hard to find.

Born in London in April 1969, raised in Australia and educated in Tokyo and Paris, Ned Goodwin has chosen a path in wine that has encompassed restaurant work, show judging, consultancy, corporate experience as a buyer and event coordinator, and work in the media-both print and television-with a strong presence throughout Asia in particular.

Since 2001, Ned has served as Wine Director – educator and buyer- for one of Asia’s largest restaurant groups, Global Dining Japan; consultant for P.J. Group restaurants (Salt, WW etc.); and adviser to the Greek Embassy in Tokyo during the 2004 Olympics. Ned is also a consultant for Möet et Hennessy, All Nippon Airways First and Business Classes and Japanese gourmet supermarkets and their wine outlets.

Before coming to Japan, Ned was one of three sommeliers at Veritas restaurant in Manhattan’s Grammercy neighbourhood from 1998-2001. A Wine Spectator Grand Award winner, Veritas boasts one of the finest wine lists of any restaurant in the world. Ned has also worked at Les Juveniles in Paris and Michael’s in Los Angeles as a sommelier. Over these years, private consultancy and events included those for the Australian Embassy in Paris and Ron Perlman and Harvey Weinstein in New York. Ned also hosted dinners for luminaries such as Laurence Faller of Alsace’s Domaine Weinbach and Etienne de Montille of Domaine de la Montille in Burgundy.

Ned also had his own Japanese television show on wine, ‘Vintage’ (2000), appeared as guest-lecturer on ‘Wine Marketing’ at one of Japan`s most prestigious universities: Keio (2002-2004), and has appeared in the New York Times, WINART, The Japan Times, Tokyo Calendar, Newsweek, Elle; on CNN; and has written for Wine Business International, Jamessuckling.com, Qantas Inflight and Prestige magazines.