Biting off the hand that feeds has been a concern of journalists and editors of traditional media since advertising began. Certainly a lack of wine advertising in newspapers is widely acknowledged for the demise of regular wine columns, but when there are overheads to consider and salaries or freelancers to pay there’s no wonder impartiality gets called into question.
As a blogger, not a journalist, I was genuinely surprised when the impartiality finger was pointed in my direction following my involvement in the selection of two wines for a first of it’s kind initiative – the Oddbins wine bloggers case. Without going into the whole detail of the trial it bought into question the motives of blogging, the integrity of those that do it and the frustration an accusation formed on limited information can create. The trouble of course is that the rise of social media has been so rapid the rights and wrongs of it all are still out with the jury, myself included.
All this got me thinking about a request I received from the chaps here at eVines. Would I like to review some of their wines, they asked. As part and parcel of obtaining a holistic view of a company I’ve associated myself with and freelance for I couldn’t decide where this leaves me on the impartiality point. On one hand I’ve had no part in selecting the wines sold on the site so the reality of the situation implies I have freedom to give an honest opinion. On the other hand will sceptical outsiders assume any positive review I give to be overstated or for that matter any negative review I post to be written solely to appease the Judges.
The wine trade and bloggers in general have both been taken to court on the insular nature of their communities and prosecuted for talking too much to each other but if I (as one of many) were to give into the self appointed internet law makers surely I’d end up with a very small audience indeed.
I was sent three bottles of wines from eVines to try, two whites and one red. So far I’ve opened one of them; a bottle of Château Pineraie 2007 from Cahors in France. It was my Dad’s birthday and we had the family over for a BBQ. Cahors is in the Lots department of France, almost half way between Bordeaux and Montpellier. It produces seriously tannic, robust red wines from a lawfully imposed minimum of 70% Cot grapes, also known to you and me as Malbec. Foods to go with wines like this can be few and far between so a meat fuelled BBQ seemed an opportune occasion.
I was hopeful for a softened version of what can often be quite a rustic style as its 5 years in the bottle should have had a mellowing effect. Unfortunately on this occasion the cork was softer than the wine and to put it plainly this red was spoiled. I could tell you about the similarity between the cork and a piece of Roquefort or the aromas of wood polish and mouldy raisins but what purpose would that serve? Should it convince you to never drink Cahors? Does it mean wines from eVines are substandard? No, none of these things because without knowing how the wine was stored, what the bottling conditions were at the winery, how reliable the cork supplier was… etc etc… the list goes on…. all this story serves to do is highlight why it’s impossible to judge when you're not privy to all the facts.