As editor of the thinking man’s style magazine GQ, Dylan Jones is paid to keep abreast of the finer things in life. So what took him so long to discover wine? Adam Lechmere finds out��
As editor of GQ magazine, Dylan Jones presumably eats out around 200times a week in thebest restaurants inthe country. So where on earth do you take him for lunch?
In the end I plumped for Swedish restaurant Glas in London’s bustling Borough Market. I thought Jones wouldn’t have been there as it’s not an obviously GQ sort of place – but I hadn’t expected it to be the hit it was.
Dylan Jones is a ‘style guru’, a title he earns by virtue of his editorship of the ‘style bible’, GQ, and his general air of metropolitan savvy. The former chair of the British Society of Magazine Editors, he looks like the sort of bloke who knows his way around the chic hinterlands of city centres. His assistant uses the word ‘car’ where most of us say ‘train’ or ‘taxi’, as in ‘his car left 10 minutes ago’. And he hitches his trousers up at the knee just before sitting down – a sure sign of class.
But – rather endearingly – he’s never been to Borough Market before, and looks around him with a ‘what’s-all-this-then?’ sort of expression etched on his brow. Which is odd for one so urbane, who loves cooking (and knows his food), given this is one of the most exciting farmers’ markets in the country.
Dylan Jones seems impressed by the array of food stalls, and any lingering doubts he has are dispelled as soon as we enter the restaurant and order a smorgasbord of the delectable raw herrings, gravadlax and rare burgers Glas specialises in.
He’s feeling jaded after several nights out at industry events (‘I find it very difficult to go to one of these things and stay sober’) so we opt for a glass each – a Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche (one of his favourites) and a glass of spicy de Loach California Series Zin to see how it goes with the burgers (it does, though the Rhône is more delicately juicy).
Jones has been taking wine ‘very, very seriously for the last five years.It’s my next big thing.’ Like many aspirant wine buffs he has a well-placed pal – in this case a banker who has persuaded him onto a series of cookery and wine courses: among them ones run by Alain Ducasse, and alsoSotheby’s wine department.
Learning about wine, Jones feels, ‘is like discovering jazz, or golf. It’s like finding there is a whole other world, under this one.’ He’s in the process of deciding how far he wants to penetrate. ‘How deep can you go? How deep into vintages? How much to spend?’
At the moment he’s in pith helmet and snake-proof gaiters, hacking into the interior of the wine continent. So what has he discovered?.
‘Amarone and Barolo for a start. Amazing, fabulous wines.’ A favourite is the 1999 Amarone Dal Forno, but more modest cuvées will accompany a kitchen supper in the Jones household. Another discovery is sweet wines – he’s a fan of Banyuls, and has a few cases of Donato Degli Antinori.
He tends toward the robust and rounded. Prominent in his cupboard under the stairs – Jones hasn’t yet made the jump to a cellar – is Pomerol’s La Pointe – not the most distinguished wine on the Right Bank, but he buys a few cases at a time as a ‘kitchen wine’ and loves its ‘earthiness’.
What else is in there? ‘Half a dozen cases of various Barolos – some good, some just good enough to get the job done – 1998 Brunellos, Le Vieux Château from Montagny 2001 and 2002.’
There’s also a few St-Emilion satellites like Château Rocher Corbin, magnums of St-Véran, and ‘two cases of Pomerol of unknown provenance’. Lastly (in case I was wondering where the really good stuff was hidden), ‘acres of Cristal, Krug, DP and Perrier Jouët’.
There’s something of the collector of experiences about Jones. He obviously loves wine and relishes the journey he’s come on (‘I mean, 10 years ago I was drinking muck. Muck’) but it all seems a bit convenient. Once you’ve got golf, jazz and wine taped, you’re well on the way to being the archetypal GQ reader.
He may not be James Bond, but he is the editor of a magazine with a readership whose desire is to become that ultimate icon of style. Perhaps the wine knowledge is just another clause in the insurance policy necessary to a man existing in his rarefied world.
Yes he’s a culture vulture, but there’s no doubt he’s sussed another vital point to the whole style thing. The only way to do it is not to take it too seriously.
We finish up with a glass of Vin Santo di Capezzana Riserva, and a Barossa Botrytis. Then Britain’s premier arbiter of style finds he’s spilt herring oil down his tie. ‘There you go,’ he says. ‘That’s the sign of an enjoyable meal.’