The recent claim in Decanter by WINE magazine tasting panel supremo Christian Eedes that “South Africa doesn’t have a single ‘icon’ wine. One that is recognized and sought after the world over” rubs salt into the industry’s wounds, staggering from recent revelations that SA exports of bottled wine to the UK, its largest market, are down over 25% in the first nine months of the year, FIFA World Cup notwithstanding.
Christian’s claims will not make pleasant reading for Vin de Constance producer Lowell Jooste at Klein Constantia or Chris Williams who makes Rubicon at Meerlust. Chris is having a really bad week after again being overlooked for a berth in the Cape Winemakers’ Guild. Nor will André van Rensburg, famous pinotagephobe, be best pleased by Christian’s next thought: “At last [sic] not yet. But could its first icon wine be a Pinotage?” before advancing the argument for Kanonkop Black Label as icon – the Black Madonna of the Simonsberg – a wine conspicuously absent from the ABSA Top Ten/Twenty Pinotage Competition earlier this year. Although I’d certainly sing the praises of the Black Madonna and say if it was entered, ABSA got it wrong.
But the heartiest guffaws are reserved for those with memories longer than that of the proverbial gnat. Is this newly minted champion of Pinotage the same pundit who argued strongly for the replacement of the WINE magazine Pinotage Challenge by one for Shiraz? As this former editor wrote as recently as 2008 “In 2004 we finally decided to switch editorial emphasis from Pinotage to Shiraz, with the Shiraz Challenge launched to replace the Pinotage Champion of the Year award. Though this move might now appear to have shown some foresight…” You can’t invent this material.
How the tables have turned. Barely two years ago Christian was moaning “No sooner did the May 2008 issue hit the shelves, and we were receiving angry and disappointed phone calls from producers. ‘When are you going to stop Pinotage-bashing?’ asked one. ‘Unacceptable to suggest that Pinotage is good for nothing other than braai wine,’ said another.” Well Christian now makes amends big time, embracing Pinotage while cheerfully bashing the top end of the rest of the SA wine offering. You can hear Australian producers cheering from Kenilworth.
You merely have to spend time reading what Christian posts on Twitter to realise that he spends far too much time drinking and not nearly enough time thinking about what he vomits onto his blog and into the public domain. If South African wine considers this guy a friend, then I hate to think what the enemies are like.
I don’t think that Christian Eedes is wrong on this point, particularly if you define “icon” as he does, i.e. “One that is recognized and sought after the world over”. While South African wines such as Rubicon and Vin de Constance may be well-regarded I don’t think one could seriously argue that they are “must have” wines for international wine consumers.
Decanter is far from the ideal forum for washing South Africa’s dirty laundry. Vin de Constance received the ultimate accolade this year – three stars in Platter.
The Holy Grail of SA wine marketing – an icon wine – has arrived and its name is Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage. (Kanonkop Klaar 22 February 2010)
Your words not mine above Neil. So can I and your loyal readers assume that you agree with Mr Eedes? Kanonkop Black Label is South Africas first and only icon wine?
Only 3 stars Angela?
The best thing about this fiasco, is Decanter obviously hired Mr. Eedes as they thought he’d put the boot into Pinotage based on his track record.
But then Eedes double crosses them and sucks up to the Pinotage lobby and the result is all grist for Pendock’s mill.
They appear to be using the Trebuchet font on the Decanter article, makes a nice change from Arial.
Maybe Wikileaks will publish a slew of Wine hack gossip.
Yes I know it is irrelevant, but so is all this ‘insider’ back stabbing. Consumers are looking for informed comment not bitchiness.
I love the Black Madonna of the Simonsberg as I say clearly in the post. Where I disagree with Mr. Eedes is the claim that there are no other SA icon wines. Vin de Constance and Rubicon are also obvious icons – and they are not the only ones.
Peter, claiming that SA does not have a single icon wine is not bitchy. Christian is entitled to his opinion and we all know that SA wines are over-hyped rubbish, as I’m sure you’ll agree!
Dionysus, go back to Grape, you clone.
At least sagmoedigge Nielsie has not been a hypocrite about pinotage, as Krisjan has.
Agreed. Everyone is entitled to opinions about wine and when the informed express their opinions I read and learn.
I learn nothing about wine from all the surround sound that seems to be more about trashing an individual than promoting wine and wine enjoyment.
Maybe I am missing the point of the role of a wine writer.
…..SA wine has some of serious plus factors that should not be overlooked. Here are ten silver linings.
1. After years of trying, SA has at last an icon wine: Kanonkop Black Label. 1000 bottles sold out in two tranches on release at R1000/bottle earlier this year….Me speak no Americano, but that sounds to me like you think KBL is South Africas first and only icon wine. Hope I havent misquoted you Neil.
Lezanne Louise, please keep your personal insults to yourself, if you have nothing wine related to add please don’t add anything.
All wine peoples getting very excited, very excited. Mr Chow suggest mixture of Abalone ***** and Pinotage to calm all down before your Christian (Gettit!) Holiday make all Westerners further miserable. Or get acupuncture with corkscrew, if always help.
Ha, so you imperialist media censor comment, all I said was Abalone Sperm.
Ah so Chow San!
MSG very better than salt for abalone and stirfry eedes
Wake up people!!
There is a world out there and if you travel a lot you will see what wines are selling and just some info on VDC: sold 13 000 bottles @ 30 pounds in the UK alone this year and America is also doing good.
Show me any other South African wine selling that quantity at that price point?
When you go the France especially, and you ask people in the industry if they know Vin de Constance they will, but not necessarily Klein Constantia.
That is the power of this brand and some of the famous Chateaus will have one bottle on display.
When I was in Dubai you can see all the famous South African brands being dumped their and actually sells for cheap. This would probably be the best place to dump your wine because it is not part of the Western World and won’t damage your brand
Xtian obviously can’t read (in addition to his legion other problems). As Meryl wrote in this year’s Platter Guide (the touchstone of SA wine quality) VdC “iconic dessert wine from unbotrytised muscat de F.”
If VdC is an icon for Platter, that should be sufficient for most right-minded wine lovers.