The news that two leading SA producers of aromatic white wines, the style most vulnerable to TCA taint, Klein Constantia and Vergelegen, are giving screwcaps the flick and returning to cork, is the first swallow of an environmentally friendly summer. Largest cork supplier, Amorim, which sells one in every four of the over 16 billion bits of bark used as bottle stoppers globally, reports volumes up 17% in Australia, 22% in the USA and 9% in Chile. All strong export competitors for SA.
Yet the picture in SA is “not so rosy” according to Amorim SA CEO Joaquim Sa, due to a rush to export wine in bulk, a trend which will “continue on the rise this year.” Globally 70% of the world’s wine is closed with cork while in SA the figures exactly reverse, with cork enjoying a 30% market share.
WOSA, the wine industry’s deep throat, needs to cut back on the pig’s cheeks in Finland and do more to counter the bulk bandwagon which costs jobs in SA. Bernard Fontannaz reckons bulk exports have cost 40 jobs at his Origin Wine operation. Likewise, the heavy bottle fatwa loudly trumpeted by WOSA’s favourite UK journo Tim Atkin in those heady days when he had a mainstream UK broadsheet platform, needs to be exposed for the vainglorious grandstanding that it is.
For as fellow UK pundit Robert Joseph points out “I disagree with the idea peddled by journalist such as Jancis Robinson MW and Tim Atkin MW of going away from heavy bottles because they’re environmentally unfriendly. There are proportionally so few of those bottles sold, I don’t really think it’s going to make a huge difference to the environment.” Probably less than the carbon debits racked up by the jet-setting duo.
Meanwhile Tim is eagerly expected in SA later this month to chair the culturally cringeworthy judging panel of the Top 100 SA Wines extravaganza, so let’s hope he buys some carbon credits for his trip. Meanwhile Tops has been advertising for temporary employees recently. Perhaps the Origin 40 who lost their jobs thanks to Tim’s best efforts should apply. If he can fit them in between a few rounds of golf, they could repay the favour by teaching him how to toyi toyi!
Are these two visions related? They have very shapely eyebrows!