Noble Rot #26
Noble Rot magazine has been demystifying wine since 2013, using flourescent inks, vivid illustrations and a generous pouring of iconoclasm to enliven the often tired world of wine publishing.
Founders Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew take wine seriously—their two London restaurants are renowned as much for the wine lists as their menus, and they published an award-winning book about wine earlier this year—but have a lot of fun along the way.
In their quarterly magazine, reports of pilgrimages to vineyards mix with rants about the snobbery of the wine world and transcriptions of long, wine-fueled lunches with celebrities.
Our latest Close-up excerpt comes from the latest of these lunches.
The 26th issue of Noble Rot arrives with typically bright cover art (by John Broadley, above) showing artist/TV presenter Grayson Perry and his wife psychotherapist Phillipa riding a motorbike—a reference to Perry’s ‘Big American Road Trip’ TV series.
Inside the issue, Grayson and Phillipa join editor Dan Keeling and journalist Marina O’Loughlin for lunch at the River Café.
Dan describes the ensuing chaos, ‘Usually we’re easily able to record these conversations with a dictaphone in the middle of the table, but this time Grayson would be answering a question and Phillppa would start another conversation with Marina. Grayson and Philippa are both very engaging and articulate but would often speak across each other, so transcribing the result was a challenge. Marina deserves another Press Award for pulling everything together into such a great piece!’
Over to the lunch gang…
GP: Grayson Perry
PP: Philippa Perry
MO: Marina O’Loughlin
DK: Dan Keeling
PP: I was a bit nervous about dressing up.
GP: Yeah, I’ve worn the same scruffy clothes to the studio every day for the past year. I think I put on makeup three times last year—I usually do it three times a week. Weird. I’ve always aspired to be one of those old ladies who doesn’t give a shit. Who say, ‘Get over yourself, for fuck’s sake’.
MO: You came across like that on your ‘Big American Road Trip’—you’re at lunch with all these grand people and you’ve pissed them all off.
GP: That was my most scary interview in my whole career as a broadcaster. I was on Martha’s Vineyard and there were all these lawyers, journalists, broadcasters, artists, relatively bigwigish people. I basically accused them of being complicit in the rise of Trump because they’d been complacent and didn’t understand Middle America. they’d been resented. Same thing is happening here.
MO: The perception of you, Grayson, has changed a bit, hasn’t it? You used to be the kind of punk provocateur…
GP: Depends on who you’re provoking, doesn’t it? The way the art world works is this – the grandees look out of their windows and think: Look at that guy, I’m slightly provoked by that guy. So they go: ‘That’s a great rebellion – welcome in!’ And when you’re in, you have to think: Oh god I’m in, who am I going to provoke now? So a great way of provoking the art world is by being popular.
MO: I was trying to find the series you did on taste a while back but it doesn’t seem to be available…
GP: I don’t think it is. After it came out, I had a mythical day in my life I call ‘The Day of the Three Mikes’. I was approached by three famous Michaels in New York – I didn’t think anyone in America knows who I am. First Mike Bloomberg – he’s a fan. Then Michael Stipe. And the third one was Mike Myers – he comes up to me and says “Grayson, I watched your Taste programme with my mum, she’s from Liverpool, and we were in tears.” And I went, oh I like this. I could dine out on this now.
PP: And here you are, dining out on it.
MO: It was really ahead of its time.
PP: Those divisions it highlighted are getting worse. And it’s exacerbated by the internet.
GP: There’s an age divide too. The youth want to put everything in a box. Give them a box and they’ll curl up inside it like a cat.
PP: …instead of finding out by their own experiences. They just want the box. So rather than ‘oh, I don’t feel sexually attracted to you, I wonder how that might change’, it’s ‘I’m ASEXUAL! And I’m going to MARCH about it.’
Pierre Baillette ‘Bulles Roses’ Champagne is served, followed by Krug Ros 24th edition.
PP: Oh my god, that’s so good. What I love about Champagne is it’s carb free.
GP: It’s a good colour – it’s that negroni colour. Because I’m an artist and go to private viewings I’ve drunk so much cheap wine in my life. When I was researching my early work I went back to my first studio and asked for records about who it was sold to, and the dealer said “I’ll just consult my database”.
He reached into a filing cabinet and pulled out an exercise book full of lists of how much had been spent at Oddbins on the cheapest wine. This is a man who used to lift the floorboard in the middle of the gallery and sweep cigarette butts into the hole in the middle of the floor. The wine was so ropey, it was absolutely bargain basement.