Yesterday I read an article in the Denver Post titled, "Cabernet franc goes with a wide range of foods." I was pleasantly surprised that the newspaper would write an article about what might be Colorado's signature grape cultivar. I thought the story would at least include a passing mention of the local versions. It wasn't until I finished the article, and the usual recommendations, that I noticed it was written by Bill St. John all the way from Chicago.
St. John used to be the food and wine editor for the Denver Post, but that was years ago. He since moved on to the Chicago Tribune. Occasionally St. John's writing is published in the Post as a special report (aka syndicated). Just as with broadcast syndication, newspaper syndication can provide market penetration and revenue for the author. Pretty good work if you can get it.
But the problem with this type of publishing is that it can actually be a detriment to the reader. Publishing generic articles that don't have a pulse on the local conditions goes against the grain of what wine consumers want: authenticity. Local sections of local newspapers should be about local conditions. I'm not suggesting that the article should have been solely about local wines, but some awareness that cabernet franc is important to the local industry would be something a local writer would have.
Now, syndicated wine columns are not all that bad. David White, of Terroirist.com, writes a twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country. These columns are hosted over on Grape Collective. Generally syndicated columns are generic enough to be applicable anywhere. White usually does a good job with this. Most of the time articles about a specific grape variety are adequately universal, but yet the cab franc piece completely missed the mark when it could have been so much more salient.