jamie goode's wine blog: Summer wine

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Summer wine

It's the transition point between spring and summer here in London. Today started off bright and chilly, got a bit cloudy, and then morphed into a gorgeously sunny summer's afternoon.

It has been fun having our open-topped hire car for the weekend. The boys have loved driving around with the roof down, cruising with some tunes playing.

Had an email from a colleague today who was very upset by something I said on my website recently. I hate to upset people, and so I removed the offending lines. But I think they over-reacted: what I said was an honestly held opinion, and instead of dashing off an outraged email, perhaps they should have reflected on whether there was any truth in what I was saying. I think that criticizing our colleagues is fraught with danger, but we're going too far if we never comment on what others say for risk of offending them. As a journalist, my job is to say things that, from time to time, will make other people feel uncomfortable. My duty is to my readers, first and foremost. If I'm holding back a little from frank honesty all the time, in order to play it safe, my writing will suffer.

To celebrate the lovely weather, it's time to crack open some Vinho Verde. Today it's Sograpes Quinta de Azevedo.

Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2008 Portugal
Pale and lightly spritzy, this is beautifully delicate with a hint of pithy bitterness, some floral notes and delicious citrus character. The high acidity keeps things very fresh. This is a lovely summer wine. 87/100 (10.5% alcohol, 5.99 Majestic, but 4.99 if you buy a couple)

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At 12:33 AM, Blogger Jake said...

hold on. i'm totally confused by this article, and also disappointed. you say:

"My job is to say things that, from time to time, will make other people feel uncomfortable."

but you also say:

"I hate to upset people, and so I removed the offending lines."

actions speak louder than words, and it seems you aren't prepared to make people feel uncomfortable.

whilst i'm a fan of your blog, will keep reading it, and am impressed you mentioned this on your blog, i'm also saddened a little.

At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Steve said...

This is pretty inarguable, Jamie. Quite honestly I think that you're deluding yourself if you think you're a real journalist. A real journalist exposes things that certain people don't want exposed. A consumer journalist, like yourself or any arts or lifestyle writer, exposes things that certain people do want exposed. That's why the wine trade subsidises you, effectively enlisting you as part of their industry's PR.
I don't have any particular problem with this, having done something vaguely similar for years. Assuming you know your subject (and you seem to), then your opinion counts for something. But it can never be seen as entirely independent.

At 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot on.

Wine writers are not investigative journalists. The worst thing that can happen to them is not getting any trips or invites to top restaurants or sporting events if they criticise a particular producer.

At 8:14 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

I'm not claiming to be a hard-hitting investigative journalist by any means. And perhaps the term journalist is inaccurate here, as you all point out.

What I was getting at is that calling it how it is isn't always the easiest path to take. But your writing suffers if, instead of the readers, you are thinking about your subjects reading your text.

In the specific case I mentioned, I said what I thought, and it upset someone enough that they sent me an email. I decided to take the comment out because I didn't want to cause them further upset, and in this case the reader didn't lose out - it's not like the situation where I give a wine a bad review, because in the case of a wine review I'm not going to change what I say or drop the review because the producer protests.

It's a difficult call sometimes.

Steve, in answer to your specific comments, I think you are being a little hard. While I do expose things that people want exposing, not all my writing is as a response to PR initiatives and freebies.

At 8:23 AM, Blogger Camoranesi said...

Tough crowd. I think in comparison to a whole lotta wine writers out there you're admirably honest and at times critical Jaime. I could reel off quite a list of writers who never say anything negative and generally hide behind a variant of 'the if you can't say anything nice...' mantra (generally along the lines of 'there's so much good wine out there I'd rather focus on that instead of pointing out massive underperformance that is a total disservice to consumers').

At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Jules Gutierrez said...

A quick look at Jamie's writing quickly sorts it from any regurgitated PR.

Anonymous, your perception of wine writing and the wine industry is a little ignorant.

Having been a wine retailer for almost eight years and been on many trips and tastings with wine writers, I can tell you one quickly tires of the restaurants/junkets/samples.

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are plenty of cosy wine writers bending over backwards not to offend, to keep them in a lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's a bit rich for a colleague to cause you to withdraw your views. This is, after all, a blog - or an opportunity for you to say what you think. I am a regular reader and have never seen you write anything offensive. I may not agree with everything you have to say, but I wouldn't visit if I didn't respect your opinions generally. We've gone too far if we allow this sort of blog to be subject to censorship - it's the opinions I seek and if they're represented decently, as they always are, what is the problem? John V in Budapest

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I can see Jamie is usually impartial - seems that one of the "anonymous" critics is jealous....


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