Los Angeles Times' Shaw dies

  • Wednesday 3 August 2005

The California wine and food communities are mourning David Shaw, The Los Angeles Times’s media critic.

Shaw, 62, died on Monday of complications from a brain tumor.

Although his journalistic fame in California was based on tenacious and exhaustive reporting in many fields, his Matters of Taste column in The Los Angeles newspaper’s weekly Food section reflected an educated passion for wine.

The Los Angeles Times’s editors granted him carte blanche as its media critic, and that newspaper itself was periodically the target of his no-holds-barred investigations. He won a coveted Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

In 1987, as a result of a two-part Shaw series on wine writing, which dealt in part with American wine writers’ ethics, a freelance wine column in The Los Angeles Times written since about 1968 was discontinued.

Shaw once wrote, ‘Fine dining — the entire food and wine experience, in any cuisine — is my only extravagance.’

In an April 2005 column, Shaw called Marcassin chardonnay ‘the best American white wine I’ve ever tasted.’ In a 2002 article titled ‘What is this, a wine list or a stickup?’, Shaw recounted how he told a sommelier, ‘Given these confiscatory prices, you should be carrying a gun instead of that tastevin.’

The Los Angeles Times’s obituary reported that Shaw ‘flew into Switzerland for dinner at his favorite restaurant, Frédy Girardet, after the owner and chef of the eponymous restaurant announced that he was retiring. Shaw ate dinner and flew back to California the next day after spending all of 19 hours in Europe.’

Shaw was never was nationally prominent as a periodic wine writer, possibly because The Los Angeles Times, though a major journalistic power, remains widely perceived as more regionally than nationally significant.

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