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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Josie Butchart

Bestselling wine writer Hugh Johnson stirred up controversy last week, while speaking at Cheltenham Literary Festival, for saying that Jilly Goolden's wine prose attracted ridicule' to wine tasting. The Times wine correspondent Jane MacQuitty and reporter Robin Young criticised Johnson in a report in the daily paper, but Johnson told Harpers he was only responding to a question from the audience about Goolden's flowery wine language. Second-hand reporting is never ideal,' he said. The story was pretty accurate, but it doesn't get the point.' The writer went on to explain that he had listed a lot of fruits - apples, pears, oranges - as examples of wine descriptors used by presenters such as Goolden, and then commented: people just laugh at it, because it sounds more like a recipe for fruit salad'. But Johnson was quick to praise Goolden and other presenters covering wine on TV: Jilly Goolden has become a national icon. I think what she says is funny, a form of entertainment.' Goolden declined to comment, but her agent drew attention to page 44 of Johnson's World Atlas of Wine (2nd edition), quoting his words: Some of the most helpful of the many words tasters use are listed - apples, currants, nuts, peaches, honey, raspberries and violets.' Wine presenter and friend of Johnson, Jancis Robinson said: It's a small storm in a wine glass, but it's great to get wine in the news.'