Of course I made a list of questions before going to see Tony Love at his home office in Crafers but I did not need it anymore from the moment I walked in the door. Journalism, wine regions, sensory descriptors – an opulent flow of knowledge was released as soon as we started to talk. As a true storyteller, he told me about some cracker wine recommendations, what makes him stand out in today’s journalism landscape and also what other people think of his job as a wine writer. He was happy to share it all, and I could have probably filled four blog posts at least on the two hours we sat at his kitchen table.

Legend of the Vine, celebrated journalist, wine and restaurant reviewer and self-proclaimed current ‘gun for hire’. What is next for Tony after handing his Advertiser position over to Katie Spain? Lucky for us, he is not done yet with the wine industry. His big book of handwritten tasting notes has retired for a couple of months after finishing the last incredible task at the Advertiser: the great SA drinks guide. For someone who is not keen on digital work – tasting notebook as proof – the drinks guide is an amazing online feat of wine browsing through all South Australia has to offer. After this one last master review of drinks Tony needed a bit of a break from reviewing, but will be back at the tasting bench in the new year. Apart from that, the future plan is to take wine away from being just a normal part of Australian culture and shine a light on the story behind it. After all, wine is a bit magical and can be so much more than just a social lubricant at your work Christmas party.

“The magic is the unseen bit”, Tony says, when I ask him about misconceptions people have about wine. Like a magician using things you do not see to keep an illusion going, wine has a magic because it brings together farming, science, art and nature without really showing how. We nurture wine, even though we might not always understand it, but, for a big part, this is also the charm and romance of it. “But then,” he continues, “the interesting thing is that education does not ‘unveil the magic’ or take away that charm.” Where a magic trick might be ruined forever when a magician shows the sleight of hand needed to perform it, explaining what is behind a glass of wine often has the opposite effect. Because wine can engage on so many levels, sensory, intellectual and social, it has a lot more to offer than just being a delicious drink.  

And because these different levels exist, we can also expect work from Tony not just in wine journals and the newspaper, but also in science outlets, agricultural communication and health magazines. I for one, cannot wait to see what he has got in store, but want to ask him to please keep going with the reviews as well. As I ask if he still buys wine, he enthusiastically tells me about going halves in a case with a colleague after he reviewed a 2017 Yarra Pinot. It is something he hardly ever does as the house is already bursting at the seams with bottles of wine. When we finish our conversation he hands me the bottle to take home. Now, writing this blog post back at my home office a true Tony Love recommendation is sitting in a glass next to my laptop and all I can say is he knows how to pick something truly special.

Written by Dr. Lieke van der Hulst who is the WCA Wine Media Cadet in 2018 and is also an avid wine enthusiast, science lover, and communicator.