It seems that Wine mag’s loose cannon is still trundling around the winelands letting off wounding shots. I’m not referring to the results of the latest tasting either. That, with its relegation of wines like Morgenster and Constantia Glen to the lowest rungs, is just the sort of thing we should be used to by now from these big tastings.
No, it’s Jeanri-Tine van Zyl once again, causing offence. In this case to Oscar Foulkes of Cloof. To be honest, not knowing Cloof, I have little idea how justified the stern critic was in this case, but going by her track record, as discussed at some length a while back in Open space, I tend to give Oscar the benefit of the doubt. You can read his rather poignant defence on his blog, In pursuit of pleasure (the entry for last Friday, July 17).
Interestingly it is maybe something to do with the concept of the Cellar door shoot out that is offensive, if it’s not just the junior reporters assigned to the task. The owner of an important winery (one who doesn’t strike me as quick to anger) told me recently that, since the publication some time ago of a report by (I think) Jeanri-Tine’s predecessor, he no longer supplies free samples to the magazine for their tastings: “If they want it, they can buy it!”
Talking of Wine, I believe that its readers can look forward to the return of Michael Fridjhon as a columnist. I reported back in January that he had left, when faced with the prospect of a pay cut. But clearly the magazine has been understanably feeling its intellectual content rather too drastically diminished and are willing to scrape around for the few hundreds rands it wanted to save by reducing his rate-per-word. Perhaps Michael even insisted on a massive increase as the price for his return, I don’t know. Nor do I know whether other columnists will be stuck with the reduction they agreed to. Nor even whether Jancis Robinson, whose syndicated column also got the chop (somewhat to her indignation), is to be grovellingly asked to return.
Another owner/winemaker I chatted to recently, Jean-Vincent Ridon of Signal Hill winery, has some interestingly motivated sympathy for Wine magazine – in fact for any print magazine ealing with something like wine, unless it can offer something really special. J-V has apparetnly been doing some advertising on web venues like Google and Facebook, with remarkable success, he says, at a fraction of the cost of an ad in Wine. He’s even selling to places in South Africa which he hadn’t even known existed – like Klerksdorp, from where someone ordered a case of wine.
As one who (I shamefacedly confess, or proudly boast), must be one of the few internet-users in the world would not even know how to access Facebook, let alone have any desire to, I recounted this (via Skype – you see I’m not entirely without resources!) to a wine-industry pal recently. In his reply, this friend asked if I knew Jean-Vincent’s Facebook page. “He has a bevy of gorgeous women who bill and coo over every posting he makes. It’s terrific entertainment. You have to join FB just to follow this ritual. In French, of course, much of the time.” I can’t give you the link, I fear, but I dare say you know it or know very well how to find it….