I started this blog partly because I thought I’d spotted a gap in the market. I couldn’t find anyone who was writing about wine but also bringing in literature, history and a good dose of silliness. Most wine writers seemed to have their noses firmly in the glass. They wrote about terroir and malolactic fermentation, new oak and concrete eggs. This is not to dismiss proper wine writing, some do it superbly, and I do like reading in-depth stuff about flights of dry German Rieslings etc. I, however, was going to use wine as an excuse to write about myself. I started in October 2010 and despite a couple of quite boring posts, I quickly got into my stride and started to feel very pleased with myself. Imagine my horror when I found out that someone had beaten me to it. Sediment Blog started in July 2010. Not only were they doing what I wanted to be doing: writing about everyday wines, making jokes, complaining about impecunious circumstances but they were doing it really well.
Then they started being nominated for awards and proper journalists such as Nicholas Lezard, who is a sort of friend or maybe a friend of a friend, began to praise them. Who were these two people CJ and PK? After a bit of digging I was some relief to find out that they were actual writers. It would have been galling if such effortlessly funny prose was being created by people whose first writing experience was a blog. Every post was beautifully structured. It’s less like a blog and more like series of short essays using wine as starting point to explore ideas. After a while my blog changed as I got sucked into the wine world. I was no longer an outsider but someone who was sent samples; I got a job writing a weekly wine column for the Lady. I became a wine bore. But CJ and PK carried on loving wine but treating the wine world with the bemusement it deserved.
Earlier this year we took the almighty step and the three of us met for lunch. They suggested El Vino, where else? I expected PK, a lover of old claret, to be patrician and tall, whereas CJ a connoisseur of Aldi rioja, would be a non-nonsense working class type, maybe even Northern. Of course it was the other round. PK is a bit of geezer, the self-made man, one can imagine him in Charlotte Street in the 80s having three hour lunches and then making lager adverts, whereas CJ has a touch of the John Le Mesurier about him. We had pies which were excellent and an awful old red that had clearly been forgotten about in the cupboards of El Vino. They both seemed to like it. Over lunch they told me about the book they were writing.
Well it’s coming out this month and it’s very funny. You don’t have to be interested in wine to enjoy it. I thought the sharpest essay was called ‘From Plonk to Plonkers’. It’s ostensibly a review of a book about wine by Jay McInerney but it really examines how lovers of fine wine sometimes have to put up with some disagreeable company. Most wine writers are nice as are most wine makers I’ve met (though normally in a very opinionated sort of way.) The problem is that if you want to drink very expensive wine somebody is going to have to pay for it and that often means spending time with rich people. Now I’m sure when they’re with their wives, ex-wives, children and dogs, rich people can be perfectly pleasant, but when they’re in groups waving their willies around and guzzling expensive wine, they are usually insufferable. It’s a very astute essay. McInerney’s articles on his adventures in the wine world should inspire envy but after reading Sediment, you see that’s there’s a melancholy about them:
“The actual price of drinking these wines is not the amount for which they are auctioned, but the time you might have to spend with people who wear window-pane sports jackets, crocodile shoes, and sunglasses formerly owned by Elvis.”
Not all the articles are as good as this one, sometimes they stray into pedantry or facetiousness but the strike rate is high. There’s nobody else doing what they’re doing in wine writing. Everyone else, including me, is just too close to the subject. Sediment are the little boys pointing out that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.
The Sediment boys are doing some readings accompanied by wine. More information here.