The Passion of Natalie MacLean

The crucifiction of Canadian wine critic Natalie MacLean (below) this Christmas by the Sanhedrin of sniffers and sippers leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. Her crime? Deleting attribution from tasting notes posted on her website. Which doesn’t gel here in the Beautiful South, as no one cares what you say about wine, just who says it. My Google trash box groans with PR emails and tweets each time a Big Name comments on an SA brand – the comment is irrelevant, who speaks, counts. The description of the Mullineux Straw Wine 2011 by Jancis Robinson last weekend is a case in point. For “you (almost) taste the sweat that went into this” is hardly a killer app, unless you’re a Fifty Shades of Grey mistress of pain.

nat The Passion of Natalie MacLean

Robert Parker is the soul of brevity itself, replacing adjectives with a score out of 100. But to detach his name from the number would be suicide. Does a 97 point rating for a Vin de Constance 2007 by Neal Martin on Mr. Parker’s behalf carry the same weight? While without any attribution, its just the temperature in Fahrenheit in some of the shops carrying stock.

Natalie was in SA before the soccer world cup as guest of WOSA who put together an itinerary which took in 44 wineries but alas, skipped the Swartland (so no sweaty Mullineux) and Constantia, cradle of SA wine and home to Vin de Constance. But WOSA itineraries are a scandal for another day.

Of course the Passion of Nats is not about wine, its all about ego and competing commerciality, which could explain the ferocity of some reactions. If your website has 80,000 signed up purple pagers at £69 a pop (or better than R76 million per annum) as @beijingboyce tweets of Jancis, then competition, even from Canada, counts.