The Wine Adventurer Press
Francis Gimblett is the “wine adventurer” and the founder of a Surrey-based wine education/entertainment business. His book’s conceit is based on his efforts to find Gérard Depardieu after a close encounter of the third kind on a TV show when they tasted some Moroccan wines. He drives through Champagne, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley into North Africa, where Depardieu co-owns a wine estate with the Bordeaux octopus Bernard Magrez in Morocco. It is perhaps surprising to find the former Lafite winemaker Philippe Lespy also working in Morocco.
There are some amusing scenes. At Chapoutier, Gimblett asks the “charismatic vineyard manager” Gregory about biodynamics: “he said I’d have to ask his boss, Mr Chapoutier, as ‘that’s his thing.’” (p.24). The “Muslim faux pas” on p.27 is very well timed, as is the scene with a Moroccan guide changing the conversation from wine to George W. Bush and religion. When asked, “would you like to see penis?” Gimblett’s response is expertly and wittily described (p.106–7).
In and Out of Africa is well written and mostly entertaining but sometimes it is not quite as clever as it thinks it is. The gag about a (presumably) American tourist being confused by Gibraltar’s sovereignty is a little spoiled by the punch line that follows “Enter Gimblett” (p. 81). And he never does find Depardieu, who ultimately becomes a Hitchcockian MacGuffin upon which this travelogue is based—though probably it does no harm to have his name on the book’s cover.
There are 41 pages of tasting notes of Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian wines that use a curious 20-point system that embraces decimals. I wonder what the difference is between a wine that scores 15.6 and one that scores 15.7.
The book is self-published and very nicely produced. Well done to Francis Gimblett for producing such a nice and sometimes amusing book—but perhaps it needed a tighter edit to make it really good.