THE SOUL OF STYLE - EPISODE IVHarold Hamersma - Awarded wine writer & journalist
The fourth episode of a series of personal blogs in which quirky and self-confident men together with author Onno Aerden go in search of the soul of style. We proudly present Harold Hamersma; “the Johan Cruijff of wine (but more kind), the Johannes van Dam of grapes (but a better writer), the Youp van ‘t Hek of vinologists (but even funnier)” - Peter van Ammelrooy of De Volkskrant.
“At primary school, in the Amsterdam neighbourhood De Pijp, I wrote my essays differently from the others. I wanted to stand out - at the age of thirteen I knew for sure, I'm going to be a writer. And I vigorously tried to convince my teacher about that fact. As a boy at the famous local office supplies firms Moolhuijsen and the Winter-brothers, I was thrilled by the sight of paper, pens and typewriters. From my pocket money I bought an old Underwood typewriter for my first and immediately world-shattering novel - it got stuck on a quarter of the first page. Monthly magazine Avenue, in 1979 at the height of its fame, to my joy, published a short story by my hand.
The issue of the magazine was just out at the moment I was allowed to come and talk about a job as a copywriter at an advertising agency. I was selected from more than a thousand candidates because of my application letter in which my father died. When Martin Veldman, already legendary advertising man at the time, asked me how my father had died, I replied that he was still alive and well - but that I had wanted to convince the gentlemen. I got the job. Also because - since that same day - I was a publicist in Avenue.”
"I marched through all the ranks in advertising, sold my agency at its peak to a listed giant, and in 2003, after my earn-out, I was able to devote myself completely to my biggest passion since the age of 16: wine. I started publishing about wine and winemaking in HP/De Tijd, Esquire, Het Parool and NRC - in the last two still every week. And then on top of it all my idol Hubrecht Duijker asked me if I would like to take over his famous annual Wine-almanac. Just like that, I became the crown prince and a secret world of wine producers, retailers, media opened up. That moment still gives me the shivers.”
"My style when it comes to wine: do not act too distinguished. Presumptuous wine waiters with white gloves and a hot potato down their throat: the horror. Wine is for drinking! But I love to combine creativity with a ‘normal’ approach to wines. Through his contributions to famous British magazine Tatler, Auberon Waugh - son of the famous writer Evelyn Waugh - taught me that the taste of wine can best be described without platitudes such as 'blackberry' or 'plums'. Since then, I have associated a certain dark red wine with a nightly emergency repair to the asphalt of the A4."
"The same goes for my wardrobe: I have more than 20 jackets made of the best fabrics, recognizable for the connoisseur - but I seldom wear them as part of a suit. Mostly casual with denim. And always, always with a white bespoke shirt. Urbane but not pinned up."
"The Netherlands, and especially the megalopolis Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht and their surrounding areas, has embraced the style of the European south when it comes to eating and drinking outdoors. For those in their thirties: having a drink, a coffee, a sandwich - a quarter of a century ago, such daily wining and dining outdoors was unthinkable. Back then you just had food to avoid dying. Dining out was a luxury. A long sit, working your way through 12 undefined courses, go home half-drunk and all that not too often. At the same time, I note that knowledge of wines is still low. There is still work to be done and my mission is to let as many Dutch people as possible really discover wine."
"Nice is the beginning of good. I can do what I like to do and that's what I do well: it feels like unpacking a present every day. And I am a true optimist. I got that from my mother, who, as a Jewish woman, had a quite intense life. She survived with an iron optimism: when a glass was poured half full, she got a smaller one and poured the wine over: ‘completely full’, she then would say.”
The style of Harold
"Arles, in De Pijp. My son Bob, concept developer for the hospitality industry, is one of the owners. Young French chefs adding a smashing je ne sais quoi to what you get on your plate.”
"No exuberant designs or too frivolous colours. But don't cut back on tailoring, customization and materials." See Harold's Collection Here
"Karin, a.k.a. Mrs Hamersma and I travel to New York every year - as soon as you land there, that town takes you over. But for culinary innovations and creativity, I nowadays prefer London. Current hot spot? StreetXO of the Spanish three Michelin-starred chef David Muñoz."
"Stabilo Comfort Gel! With those, I write my little lecture notes, my tasting notes. I had a very expensive Mont Blanc stainless style fountain pen, but after it had run empty in a jacket, it had to go."
"I taste eight thousand bottles a year for my annual book De Grote Hamersma. But what comes to mind immediately: champagne! And then the one of the houses of Billecart-Salmon. Owners François and Antoine, brothers of the sixth generation, once opened a magnum for me from the year of birth of one of them. A God’s miracle on my tongue.”