Confessions of a Serious Wine Dud


That small curly black hair perched next to his crusty, ravaged orifice resulted in an irritable missive by Tim James on Grape. Writing about an expensive wine released by Bilton Estate, his criticism was not only leveled at the producer of this R3,000 bottle, the way the wine was made nor the winemaker that assisted on the project.

No, Timothy also had a go at the media, implying that most of those invited to taste this wine were not serious wine journalists. Obviously considering himself as a member of the latter, he writes: “I haven’t tasted the wine and am unlikely to. The serious end of wine journalism was largely not invited to the launch?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+.”

This statement did, of course, have the desired effect of urging journalists to comment on the whole do, as can be found in the notes under the article I have linked here.

I was reminded what my professor in media ethics at Johns Hopkins said of these kind of squabbles: “Journalists fighting with each other is a lot like a dog licking its ass ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ it might be good for the dog, but it sure ain’t pretty to look at.”

The point missed by many, however, is Timothy’s admission of not being a dedicated or committed wine journalist. For he states quite openly that he is not likely to taste this Bilton wine because he did not crack the nod for the launch event,

In other words, if I don’t get a freebie, I’m not writing about it. Finished.

As a wine columnist for the Mail&Guardian, a newspaper serious about things moral and ethical, as well as being a Cape Wine Master, Wine Journalist of the Year, international contributor and deputy editor of the PSG (Platter Sighted Guide), one would have expected more of Tim.

Would a talked-about new South African wine release made in an original ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ if controversial style ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ not warrant a writer of his ilk making a plan to taste the wine himself instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for a freebie and doing what is effectively and unethical hatchet-job on a label he has not experienced? Surely this is what readers and opinion-formers expect from a writer with his responsibility and of his seriousness.

Or is Tim attempting to take-over the helm at Freebie Central where Melvyn Minnaar, columnist for right-wing sensationalist Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport, reigns supreme?

The inside track, backed by a bit of virtual snooping, is that Grape is being crushed by other blogs in the popularity stakes. A while ago Tim made a big noise about burying hatchets and toeing the line. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

But those measures can back-fire, and in this case it couldn’t happen to a nicer dwis.

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5 thoughts on “Confessions of a Serious Wine Dud

  1. I can’t agree with you more, Emile. In addition, I don’t think that rehashing one’s drivel written for the M&G or Rapport on yet another forum such as Grape, represents responsible journalism. At best it reveals a good degree of laziness; at worst it becomes yet another source of freebies.

    Speaking of responsible wine journalism, go have a look at The Telegraph online. Today’s wine column loudly proclaims the Western Cape to be one of the best value-for-money wine regions- not at the bargain bin end, but in the medium range of 6-12 GBP. Now that’s news worht reading!

  2. Groete uit Somerset West, Emile

    I’m here at the 300th birthday celebration of Morgenster and Tim James is not. Stand-by for a trashing of the Morgenster 2008 and Laurens River Valley 2008 by Tim!

  3. This seems a bit undignified. Unbecoming of a journalistic body professing to know more that the man in the street. I’ve watched from the sidelines, as one who has tasted – and declaimed on – the wine, but not found favour with the producers to the extent of cracking an invite.
    Tell you what, guys: I’ve still got the second bottle of this precious nectar from the Platter (SWG?) sample, which I’d be happy to open for the unannointed if they promise it a fair trial. Of course, this would effectively be a “sighted” tasting, so objectivity and integrity would be compromised, if Emile is to be believed.
    B.t.w., the samples were submitted to us in June 2009, so whatever you were told about five annual rebarrellings (?) doesn’t tally.

  4. And Again:
    Tim James wrote about the 4G Wine G without tasting it.
    I am wondering how he get with his ethics and is insulting and arrogance all this kind of awards… Crazy world.

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