IT has ,been a tough week for wine writers. There were a couple of taxing functions to attend, a few hefty, palate-challenging meals to consume and a few exhaustive trips to the post office to collect the latest batch of freebie samples.
And then there were two vino hacks caught out for being dishonest in the plying of their honourable trade.
Take glamour boy Matt Skinner, author and wine-advisor to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s. Together Matt and Jamie look like a presentable duo one would find hugging the mike at the Glory Hole gay bar’s happy hour, blurting out hits like “I will survive” and “It’s raining men”.
Both of these boys are, however, mere mortals of the bull-shitting variety.
Last year Oliver was caught out for selling his own brand of pasta sauce that had four times the recommended amount of sodium, something Jamie found quite embarrassing as he is on a mission to castigate his fellow Brits for eating unhealthily. And now his vinous squeeze Matt has been found recommending wines he has not tasted.
That’s right folks. In Matt’s annual guide, The Juice, he recommends wines that he has not even sniffed, swirled or sipped. The full report is on Decanter, but to sum it up, Matt admitted that in the 2010 version of The Juice he had to supply tasting notes for wines despite the wine’s readiness for consumption not falling in-line with the production schedule for the book.
No worries, Matt reckons. Mighty Matt is permitted to describe wines to his readers he has not tasted. “….there are some releases that are consistent from year to year, and as popular, good value and accessible wines I want to include them because I know that my readers will appreciate them.
“In order to do so I include non-specific tasting notes based on the current and previous year’s vintage, focusing more on basic flavours and compatibility with food.”?+¦?-¼?+«+ë?+¦???+½?+¦???+¦
Matt’s publishers arrogantly reckoned this was okay. “We either upset one side or the other. There’s the side that wants the most up-to-date information, and there’s Michael Cooper’s side. The majority of the wines in The Juice don’t rely on vintage variation. A lot of them are going to be consistent each vintage.”
Just a pity they ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ like Matt ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ had forgotten what the author had written in a recent GQ column: “It’s important to remember that every year is different and that no two years ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ even in the same spot ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ will ever be the same. That’s the beauty of Mother Nature.”
Guilty as charged.
The other wine writer who seems to think “ethics” is a town in Greece, is that funny chap who writes a wine column in Die Burger’s environmental supplement. (Quite why Die Burger’s environmental supplement runs a wine column is open to debate.)
In any event, Die Burger’s Ombudsman recently had to publicly rap this particular wine writer over the fingers. For it seemed that this writer was moonlighting as a PR consultant to the very wineries he would write about in the editorial space given him.
Of course, this sort of thing only a real wally would do. But the wineries concerned are just as guilty for being party to these practices. You don’t have to be a member of the Poynter Insitute to realise that if you are paying some guy to generate publicity he should not be the one generating it under his name in editorial space.
Which begs the question: to what lengths would people go to sell a bottle of wine these days?
– Adrian Morgan
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