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Independent Wine Education

First they go an cancel a perfectly decent wine column by Richard Ehrlich on Sunday. Then, they do a tie-up with the Independent to create a “Seven Day Wine Course” with Berry Bros & Rudd (BBR).

What is happening with wine at The Independent?

The inserts in the newspaper are coming out every day this week sponsored by, and with content provided by, BBR’s Wine School to generate interest in their Wine Club. The content is reasonable, considering you only have the equivalent of 4 sides of A4 to cover “Burgundy” (plus Champagne hidden on the back) and “Rhone, Loire & Alsace”, including main varietals, maps, vintage charts, etc. But the tone is odd.

My reading of these “fliers” (they are only folded A3 and remind me of cheaper conference inserts in trade mags) is that they are not sure who they are targeting. The content has to appeal to the “average Joe” reading the Indy, but are they interested? Is this taking a “populist” approach to bring in new wine buyers? I doubt BBR are interested in that market. Is it taking a high-brow approach, appealing to knowledgeable consumers who ought to consider buying better wines?

Neither I’m afraid. If you have to state that the main varieties of Burgundy are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, then great, educate people! But then don’t immediately follow that with a statement like:

“Yields have to be kept low, however, for optimum quality.”

“Yields”? “Low”, how? “Optimum quality”?

And as for the design and layout, this looks at least 20 years out of date if not more.

I am not knocking BBR as I am sure their intentions in this are good and they are even trying to implement pretty up-to-date technology (see comments here and here). But I am not sure how much this “course” will help the cause of the UK Wine Culture. Couldn’t they have spent just a little bit more on editing and the layout, or is there some subtle message here I am missing?

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