FAT CITY or How to Spend it

With the local wine press collapsing faster than RDP houses in a hurricane, the FT Weekend offers an unbeatable lifestyle read for R18 a copy and no doubt cheaper if you subscribe. The colour of a good rosé (oeil de perdrix in pompous wine guide speak) the wine column of Jancis Robinson MW OBE may have degenerated into a laundry list of Christmas whites, as useful as rocking horse droppings to a biodynamic farmer for non-Blighty-based punters, but the intellectual support for the idea of fine wine from a heavyweight chorus of writers makes cheerful reading.

htsi FAT CITY or How to Spend it

Leading the charge is a South African – Lucia van der Post, daughter of one of the 20th century’s biggest fantasists, fibbers and friend to Prince Charles, Sir Laurens. In the glossy 119 page How to Spend it Supplement this weekend that makes Friday’s Wanted from Business Day look downright downmarket, La Lucia claims “it’s time to get counter-intuitive.”

Shoppers of the world unite is her message and blowing the budget on Ralph Lauren Home silver-plated Courbet ashtrays with lid (R1500) is presented as a moral imperative for “if we don’t buy fine wines, the vines will wither, whole communities will lose their livelihoods, and skills that have taken generations to perfect will be lost.” Pass the Hermès handkie (Hermès black handmade silk pocket square with a subtle lined pattern near the edges, thrown away at R120 each).

To back up her arguments, two double page spreads for Grand Siècle bubbly from Laurent-Perrier make the point with gnomic quotes advanced from Vincent van Goch “keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art better” and Baudelaire “absolute simplicity is, indeed, the best way of being distinguished” to make a point lost on me. But the monochrome photos of a single bottle of bubbly by Daniel Jouanneau and Kenji Toma (a fifty-something punk Buddhist monk New York snapper with a Mohawk) are beautifully limpid.

Another gem is La Lucia recalling a reader’s letter received “from a distinguished publisher” when she was editing the How To Spend It pages of the FT in a previous recession. The personage proclaimed pompously that the very name “was vulgar, and an insult to the times we lived in.” So La Lucia arranged a competition to search for a replacement, with first prize “several bottles of Champagne.”

After hundreds of letters “nobody came up with a better title” and presumably La Lucia glugged the bubbly herself. If the competition is not closed, I’d like to propose FAT CITY as replacement title (pace Hunter S. Thompson) and if I’m a luck winner, do hope my prize will be bottles of Grand Siècle.

Saving the best for last, the Slow Lane column of Harry Eyres ends on a philosophical note: “the Viennese artist was recalling that in his art school days it was the fashion, when asked about the thematic content of one’s art, not to be super-articulate, but to engage in animalistic grunting. Surely it is the role of the critic, not the artist, to be articulate about the art.” Does this apply to winemakers and wine, I wonder? I’ll ask Bruce Jack and Pieter de Waal, two of the most super-articulate winemakers in town.