What’s happening with Decanter? On Monday they’ve published a news article on the death of Giuseppe Quintarelli – as they should; testimonials after the death of this pivotal Italian wine figure are coming from all over the internet: see this great piece by Eric Asimov, Franco Ziliani, Jeremy Parzen (who also posted this great profile with testimony from cellarmaster Luca Fedrigo), Walter Speller @Jancisrobinson.com, Elisabetta Tosi, and the Wine Spectator and Wall Street Journal.
All these are very well-written and well-researched articles, as befits the mournful occasion of losing one of the unquestioned masters of Old World wine. It makes the Decanter feature even more underwhelming in comparison. Although the current version with “additional reporting by David Furer” that is now being displayed at Decanter.com is reasonably complete, the first version signed by Adam Lechmere (not available anymore at Decanter but you can see it here) was very short and contained some serious factual errors. Quintarelli’s Bianco Secco is not based on the Saorin grape (an info that Decanter perhaps misinterpreted from my post) but on Garganega, Trebbiano, Chardonnay with just 2% of the rare Saorin. Then there’s the very upsetting typo of ‘Guiseppe’ in the article title and URL, made even more embarrassing by the fact that it’s an obituary.
I don’t terribly like to be negative, but for a magazine that self-indulgently styles itself as “quite simply – the world’s best wine magazine”, this is really sub-standard editing and researching. Even if we’re just talking about news articles (if only Decanter’s had been breaking news, written understandably in the heat of the moment, but it went online some 24 hours after Quintarelli’s death was first announced by Franco Ziliani).
Nor is it the first time Decanter is messing up with its online material: a news story on the wines served during the Polish EU Presidency last August was full of false information, clearly based on a single, unverified Hungarian source – and it was published three weeks after the matter was hotly debated in the Polish blogosphere, including these two posts on my Polish blog where I drew a comprehensive background behind the story. (Surely that’s easily Googleable?). Now for an amateur website with no funding, such quality of information would hardly inspire confidence but in the end, could be forgiven. But for a media giant such as Decanter / IPC Media, can we reasonably expect a higher standard of service?
In the distant past I wrote some news features for Decanter.com (last time in 2002). I don’t publish wine news on my website at the moment but did at WINO Magazine where I worked until Dec 2010, which could be vaguely considered a Decanter competitor.