Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ronald Searle the Great (Part 7) - Flavours and vapours

Searle appreciated good wines and particularly champagne; but for ages he was revolted by the pretentious wine-jargon of some so-called experts and critics. Having scrupulously collected these bombastic sentences, read in newspapers, magazines and direct-mail publicity, Searle chose fifty of these most frequent gibberishes and mocked each one by a cartoon deriding it. They were gathered in The Illustrated Winespeak: Ronald Searle's Wicked World of Winetasting, a book published by Souvenir Press in London in 1983. In his foreword, Searle praises the rare persons able to honestly and clearly express their tasting sensations, and points out “that grotesque international band of snobbish inarticulate sponges, who are incapable of thinking beyond their incestuous little circles”.

The book had sold nearly 30,000 copies on the British market in its first two months. Soon after, it was translated into French and into German.

In 1984, titled Parler en vin. [French pun with “Speaking in vain”]: Le langage du vin illustré, it was published by Albin Michel; as Winespeak it was published by Harper & Row in New York, and as Ronald Searles Illustrierte Weinsprache was published by Gerstenberg in Germany.

In 1985, the book was translated into Dutch and, titled De geillustreerde Wijnspraak, it was published by Gottmer in Haarlem. In 1986, it was translated into Italian and Danish: Parladivino was published by Edagricole in Bologna, and Hvad siger etiketten? was published by Souvenir Press in Copenhagen.

After such a big success, Searle launches a new book and invites vintners and wine drinkers to experience the mysteries of wine and its production. These hilarious cartoons are dedicated to the world's wine odd ceremonies, and to the many improbable ways to open a bottle of wine. Something in the Cellar: Ronald Searle’s Wonderful World of Wine was published by Souvenir Press in London in 1986. Translated into French and titled Le monde merveilleux du vin de Ronald Searle, it was published by Albin Michel in Paris in the same year.

Most of this book’s pages in color were designed for the promotion of John Goelet’s vineyards Clos du Val in Napa Valley – California, and Taltarni Vineyards in Moonambel – Australia; the others were new and never published in a book form.

In 1988, Something in the Cellar: Ronald Searle’s Wonderful World of Wine was published by Ten Speed Press in Berkeley California; and, as Wundervolle Welt des Weins, published by Zinnober Verlag in Hamburg. Translated into Italian and titled Scendiamo in Cantina, it was published by Rizzoli in Milan in 1989.

In the past, the vineyard Vignelaure (appellation Côteaux d'Aix-en-Provence) used to set a second wine-label at the back side of its bottles of red Château Vignelaure, which was different every year. The 1983 label was illustrated by Ronald Searle who drew his inspiration from a local story alleging a retired Roman legionary has planted a first vine in this place.

Robert Parker, the renowned American wine-critic describes Vignelaure as: "one of the showpiece properties not only of Provence, but of France". The red Château Vignelaure is the grand wine of the estate, made from a selection of the finest hand-picked grapes from old, low-yielding vines: Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Syrah (25%), Grenache (5%); ageing in small oak barrels for 18 months and then ageing in bottle for at least 2 years before releasing it.

In 1996 and 1998, thanks to private financial supports, the Wilhelm Busch Museum (Hanover) acquired from Searle an important number of his cartoons, his collection of historical caricatures and his library of works dealing with the history and theory of caricature. They were exhibited in 2001 and a catalogue was published by Hirmer Verlag in Munich. In fact there was a second catalogue in a slipcase titled Searle & Searle, as Monica Searle also exhibited there the necklaces she styled.

The cartoon “Switzerland”, from Something in the Cellar: Ronald Searle’s Wonderful World of Wine, features in the front face of this the slipcase. At right, the cartoon “SEITA mon ami” about nicotine addiction was done in 1983.

This addiction is the very matter of The Addict: A Terrible Tale which was published by Dobson in London in 1971; and in the USA by Stephen Greene in Brattleboro in the same year.

This no text story shows in 18 drawings, the long and hard walk of an old woman looking for matches and bringing them for lighting the cigarette of...

… You cannot count on me to reveal who’s that smoker, because a mention on the back cover specifies: “The Addict’s moment of truth has been tactfully concealed from casual gaze by sealing the last two pages”. Suspense, suspense!

At the end of this penultimate part of our series, please relax in the company of a St-Trinian’s girl and Ronald Searle smoking around 1950.

article by JMB

For champagne mention, please see:

No comments: