Prune’s Progress: Covid gives our columnist a surprise opportunity

Pic: Lum3n, Pixabay

There’s a lot of talk in the trade about whether you need to visit a wine region to understand its wines, so I asked my godmother what she thinks.

She’s a famous wine writer, although I couldn’t find her name on the list we keep in the office.

Dishy Italians

‘Darling,’ she said, ‘trips to the vineyards are the best. You are wined and dined, you meet a lot of interesting people and some of these foreign winegrowers are surprisingly dishy, especially the Italian ones.’

My godmother is ancient, so she uses words like ‘dishy’ a lot.

‘But do you need to go to understand the wines?’ I asked.

‘Understand the wines? Just drink them and don’t ask any questions,’ she said. ‘You’re not going to turn into one of these intense girls who talk about terroir and only drink ghastly orange wines, are you?’

I asked Clemency if she’d heard of my godmother.

‘Who does she write for?’ she asked.

‘Er… she does wine tastings for the Women’s Institute. And she’s still a member of the Circle of Wine Writers.’

‘Hmm. There are a few liggers they don’t seem to be able to shake off,’ she said. ‘Now if you don’t mind.’

Clemency is always busy when I have questions.

What do you actually do?

‘Prune, can you come into my office right now please?’

That was Helena, my boss. I am terrified of her.

‘Close the door behind you,‘ she said.

‘What have I done?’ I asked.

‘Do you actually do anything?’

‘I don’t. Genuinely, I don’t. Or at least I don’t know if I have. Maybe I did and if I did, I apologise because I didn’t mean to do it.’

‘Calm down. I asked if you do anything, not if you’ve done something.’

Sometimes Helena loses me completely.

When needs must…

‘I’m beginning to wonder if what I’m about to say is a good idea,’ she said.

‘Pops says that when in doubt, it’s better to shut up,’ I said helpfully.

‘Did you just tell me to shut up?’ Helena asked. ‘You are extraordinary.’

‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘It’s nice to get a compliment. It doesn’t happen very often.’

Helena made a strange noise, a bit like my cat when someone steps on her tail.

She closed her eyes and seemed to be talking to herself, so it went quiet for a bit.

‘Given that you’ve only been with us three months and you’re, well… you, I’m not sure this is a good idea, but I have no choice,’ she said eventually. ‘Global pandemic or not, one of our biggest clients insisted that we have a press trip to his chateau next week.

‘As you know, most of the office has been test-and-traced since the Beaujolais tasting and they’re having to self-isolate.’

‘I know! I am so chuffed I forgot my phone that day.’

Helena made her strange noise again.

‘Put your mask on this minute,’ she said.

I did as I was told. It’s better not to argue with irrational people.

Go. Just go.

’The point is that Clemency and I have got work coming out of our ears, and just about everyone else is at home,’ she said. ‘So I have no choice but to send you on that press trip.

‘I’ll brief you tomorrow. Thoroughly. Now go.’

I can’t believe my luck! An hour ago I was wondering about vineyard visits and now I am actually going on a real press trip with real wine writers.

I wonder if I’ll be able to invite my godmother?