That is amazing. Next up is The Accidental Connoisseur: An Irreverent Journey Through the Wine World by Lawrence Osborne, which is all about one English man’s quest to understand the world of wine.
It is a brilliant book, and I don’t say that simply because I happen to have been mentioned in it. He actually got a number of the details of our encounter quite wrong. But a good story is never compromised by strict adherence to the facts.
What did he say?
Oh, I can’t remember exactly but he got a few things wrong – about microbullage, for one, a winemaking technique we were using at the time. What is amazing about the book, for me, is the quality of the writing, which is lovely and very funny. He is so good at getting people to speak candidly and revealingly. He is especially good at doing that through using their own language. The subtext of the book is how language colours reality. There is this fight for language among competing ideologies.
One of the interesting scenes in the book is how he had a comparative tasting with the late [Californian winemaker] Robert Mondavi, where they looked at European and Californian wines. Osborne, being a proper European, prefers the restraint and elegance of the European wines. And Mondavi tries to steer the conversation back to how brilliant the Californian wines are, namely his wines. The words that he uses are “lively and bright”. It is interesting how this foreshadows, by a few years, the discussion of one of the American presidential advisers who describes Europe as old and tired, while America is young and positive. There is optimism in America. Although our wines might not be as complex as those in Europe, they are described as brighter and livelier.
It sounds as if some wine critics treat European wines like some people might treat their parents – as old fogies who are past it.
Something like that! There is this idea of an American can-do attitude, where our wines might not be so brilliant but they are lively.