The popularity of the Platter’s Wine Guide, South Africa’s leading wine-rating publication, is set to plunge after the shock departure of its debonair publisher Jean-Pierre Rossouw. Fondly known as JP in wine circles, Rossouw had been at the helm of the Platter’s Wine Guide since 2013, growing the book’s popularity with his wine knowledge, management skills and charming personality off-set by a suave sense of style and disarming good-looks.
A spokesperson for Diner’s Club, owners of Platter’s, confirmed Rossouw’s departure, adding that this has left a void, not only in the day-to-day running of the guide, but also in the publication’s marketing division.
“With that ice-white smile, piercing dark gaze and well-coiffed fringe, JP added a dangerously sexiness to the guide,” said the spokesperson who was speaking on condition of anonymity. “Here he definitely gave Platter’s an edge in the wine world, elevating the appeal of a book with not much more to offer than a few thousand wine-ratings. For years, the most – only – exciting aspect of the guide was the annual revealing of the book’s cover colour. This was until JP came along to personally present the top wine-performers at the book’s annual launch. One smile and a nonchalant flick of the fringe, and he brought a cult following to a normally staid formal occasion.”
Beth Dinglestrat, a media and image consultant for various South African wineries, says Rossouw’s departure is an “insurmountable” loss for the Platter’s Guide.
“JP took the cobwebs out of wine, his involvement with this publication adding a dynamic and stylish metrosexual appeal to a book which has been a part of the South African wine land-scape for four decades,” says Dinglestrat. “Besides charm and coolness that makes Richard Gere seem neurotic, JP had a terrific work-ethic. Commitment to the edge of tenacity, it was. Each year we were astounded by his ability to pose with every single individual Platter’s Five Star winner without dropping his intense come-hither gaze or dulling that dazzling, even white smile. I just don’t know how Platter’s is going to come back from this.”
Donna van Tetvallen, an assistant winemaker in Stellenbosch, says that JP’s leaving the Platter’s Guide has made her question her professional aspirations. “Every girl makes wine with the hope of getting to pose with Mister JP and a Platter’s Five Star certificate,” says Van Tetvallen. “I and my friends – girls and boys – were miffed to learn of JP’s leaving the guide as our chances of an appearance alongside him are now going nowhere. I want to appeal to Mr JP and the whole lot at Team Platter’s to bring back our publisher man. You don’t know how much he means to us. Since hearing the news of his going my Chardonnay has tasted dull and my Cabernet all bretty. There is just not much to look forward to. Thus, Platter’s, save South African wine and bring back JP.”
Dinglestrat says JP will be a hard act to follow for Platter’s. “While vanity is not much of a problem in wine media circles, good-looks and style are,” she says. “Wine writer Malu Lambert would be a good call as replacement, although her stamina for incessant smiling has yet to be tested. French wine expert, pioneer, selfie-king, visionary and best-at-everything Jean Vincent Ridon is another possibility, but we have yet to see what he really looks like when photographed by someone who is not himself.
“The thing is, talent like JP does not grow on trees – or vines.”