The biggest question in SA wine at the minute (after why Sanlam are bringing the Stellenbosch Wine Routes to Jozi, two weeks after WineX) is how many bottles of Obikwa Shiraz does Distell make? Christian Eedes, super versatile chairman of all of the tasting panels at WINE magazine, reckons 350 000 cases, which is either 2.1 or 4.2 million bottles. This figure was “told to me by a member of the winemaking team and then subsequently removed from the WINE magazine report on request from the Distell marketing department” as Christian notes.
Michael Bucholz, who makes the stuff, says Christian’s numbers “are not on the same page as the truth.” Yet a recent press release on the new 350g eco-friendly Obikwa glass bottles notes that the saving on carbon emissions is 109Kg for every 1000 bottles. The total saving across the range is listed as 654 tons, equivalent to 6 million bottles, so Christian’s number is certainly plausible, given that there are five wines in the range.
What is less clear is where the claim that the new bottle is 25% lighter than the old 450g bottle comes from. Surely a saving of 100g is a 22% saving? Anyway, the new lighter bottles will come as welcome relief to bibulous blue stockings in the SA financial press and Tim Atkin who was threatening a heavy bottle boycott (Champagne excepted) last year.
On a quality front, the 2010 Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc, full of refreshing pear drops with a racy acidity and at an abstemious 12% alcohol, confirms the huge revolution taking place in SA wine at the minute: the massive increase in quality in the cheaper brands (Obikwa, Two Oceans, Chateau Libertas) made by Distell. Quite who will pay over R100 for Sauvignon Blanc when you can access this quality for a shade over R20, is moot.
Fresh and grassy Sauvignon Blanc is the white wine analogue of coffee/mocha Pinotage: hated by anoraques and loved by people who pay for the bottles they drink. Obikwa have backed another winner here in hedonism’s horserace.