In the digital age print media struggles with wine journalism. Whilst newspapers cull their wine columns, the old established Wine Press, or at least those magazines that remain, are forever trying to come up with new ideas to increase revenue, such as wine (and wine list) awards, premium subscription online services, branded tasting events etc. For generalist publications the field is smaller than it was. This is true for the specialist wine press too – I’m sure one or two readers might miss Tong Magazine for its often in depth coverage and sometimes more scientific slant.
But if you can find a niche, then you can fill it. One such success story is Noble Rot, founded by Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew back in 2013, now on its fifteenth quarterly edition. Its wine coverage may have moved steadily upmarket over the intervening years, but it retains its irreverence, humour, and great graphic design which make it worth spending £9 on four times a year.
Lovers of natural wines have had to make do with online sources, largely a range of very good Blogs, if they want to source information on this growing genre. It’s true that Francophones have been able to read Le Rouge et Le Blanc. Begun in 1983, this French Publication continues its focus on sustainable wine production, not only in France but elsewhere. A subscription outside France is €58, and the current Issue has articles on Marcillac, Champagne Leclerc Briant, and Nicolas Carmarans, as well as on domaines in the Val d’Aosta and Switzerland’s Valais (among others).
The founders of TERRE MAGAZINE, Editor Rachel Signer, illustrator Erika DaSilva and food and lifestyle photographer Katie June Burton had clearly been mulling over a gap in the English speaking market for print on “natural wine and heritage food“ for some time, before the magazine saw the light of day, and its first issue, this autumn (or should I say fall, it being published out of the USA), following a successful Kickstarter Campaign to source the funds to launch.
The magazine promises to be “art driven”, and it is true that there is clearly an eye for design and for visual stimulation within the production values of Terre, but this would be to detract from the quality of the articles. Whereas, as friends keep telling me, Noble Rot is great fun and entertainment but not all of the articles are quite serious, the content here, on the whole, is aimed at informing and educating along with the entertaining.
My favourite articles in Issue 1 include Chad Stock (Omero Cellars, Oregon) on why he’s okay with Brett (brettanomyces) and VA (volatile acidity); Deirdre Heekin (La Garagista, Vermont) defending (more than adequately) hybrid vines; Rachel Signer writing about Julien Guillot’s Domaine des Vignes du Maynes; and Sam Basger writing about Analemma Wines, a name I’ve only recently discovered, founded by Steven Thompson and Kris Fade in the Mosier Valley, Oregon.
Becca Turner’s beautiful artwork accompanies Deirdre Heekin’s article on hybrids in Vermont
There is more, of course. I now particularly want to find a bottle of “Horses”, the first pét-nat from America’s Long Island, made by Macari from their North Fork vineyard (some of the grapes come from Horsehead Bluff, but there’s an obvious nod to Patti Smith in there too). Yet there is just one negative thing I have to say about Terre Magazine, and that concerns its length, or rather lack of it.
Horses, horses, commin’ in from all directions…
With Noble Rot you get over 100 pages for your £9. Le Rouge & Le Blanc is somewhat thinner at around 40 pages, though it approximates to A4 in size, and its plainer style with just a few black and white photos and a very occasional map means there’s more text. With Terre you get plenty of colour photos and illustrations which enliven and complement the text, but in a format a little larger than A5, you are kind of wishing for just more pages (I counted twelve articles in all, whereas the current Noble Rot boasts twenty three).
This in itself would not be an issue at all were it not for the price. I grabbed my copy from The Remedy in London’s Fitzrovia the day after its arrival, and I might therefore have been the magazine’s first UK customer. As such, there was a slight confusion over the price, the only information to hand being the price in Dollars. At £22 I felt that Terre is quite expensive for what it is.
That said, I hope this short article does come over as supportive of Terre and what these three ladies are trying to achieve. The whole concept is really exciting and this first issue is well executed. There is only one article I might have had second thoughts about including, but only because I’m not a female chef and have no call for polka-dot trousers. But then I certainly support writing that caters to a readership often ignored in the mainstream Wine Press.
I know that the magazine was born out of a real passion for both natural wine and so-called heritage foods, and I know that there is already a growing interest in the UK. I enjoyed reading it and the only thing which might (I only say “might”) put me off buying every single issue would be the price. The quality of both the design and the writing cannot be faulted. I do wish Rachel and the team every success.
Everyone wants to read more about the Magician of Macon’s monastic vineyards
If you want to grab the first ever Terre Magazine in the UK you should head along to The Remedy in Cleveland Street, London W1. This, as far as I know, is the only place in England where you can currently find it. It is also available in Scotland via Raeburn in Edinburgh, as well as Bar Brutal in Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen and Australia (though in Summertown, which is on the edge of the Basket Range, east of Adelaide). Distribution in North America can be viewed on their web site here. I know that the magazine is sold out at the publisher, and the web site doesn’t seem to have any details about subscriptions, although they can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org . In which case, if you want a copy, it might be worth being swift (and, indeed, checking availability before making a journey). I was very happy to get mine.
The next Issue of Terre Magazine is promised for late Spring 2018.