I was slumming it in the Alentejo when the Franschhoek Book Festival went down and so missed the launch of Grape by Jeanne Viall, Wilmot James & Jakes Gerwel. But thank heavens I was uitstedig and so also missed the annual Franschhoek Sighted Wine Hacks Reward, which hit a fresh low this year. Prolific blogger Chris von Ulmenstein was at the peeling of Grape and reports that the slim volume “is certain to cause discomfort to the wine and table grape industry.”
Just one of her observations makes her point in spades. “Good ‘table wine’ has only been produced in the past 15 years, WOSA CEO Su Birch is quoted as saying, with only Meerlust, Delheim and Kanonkop known to make good wines before this time.” Now let’s see – 15 years ago brings us back to 1996, no great shakes as a vintage for sure, but if accurately reported, the rest of the quote is probably the most uninformed comment I’ve read about the industry today.
What about those mould-breaking Thelemas, the miraculous 86 Sauvignon Blanc from Klein Constantia and the fine 1982 and 1984 dry reds from Rustenberg? I must buy a copy to check that Su has not been quoted out of context. Shocked and appalled, I really cannot believe it.
Sunday morning PS. I now have my copy of Grape and it’s unfortunately all there on page 95, although the Meerlust, Delheim and Kanonkop comment seems to apply to wines made before the 1960s.
There is more reinventing history on page 94 with Su noting “come democracy, everyone wanted to support our wines, but all they could do was buy bucket-loads full of cheap wine.” What utter rot – Rustenberg, Kanonkop, Hamilton Russell and other top-end producers were widely available in London before the first democratic election.
Everyone gets quoted out of context these days. Very little accurate reporting going on at all it would seem
WOSA needs to respond sharpish – don’t they have a communications manager who can explain the context and what Su meant?
Let me quote the paragraphs out of ‘Grape’ (page 95), that led to this quote mentioning Su Birch of WOSA: “The history of good table wine in the Cape is less than 15 years old, says Su Birch of WOSA. That may come as a surprise to anyone under 50. Wine routes, wine tastings and wine festivals seem to have been around for a long time, but are relatively recent events.
In fact, surprisingly, before the 1960′s there were very few good table wines around, and the table-wine-drinking public was very small. One wine, Lieberstein, sold very well and became the best-selling table wine in the world in 1964. Other wines also did well: Tassenberg was launched in 1936 and a few wines, like Gruenberger Stein, received awards. But fortified wines such as sherry and port, and spirirts such as brandy, were still preferred, along with a few medium-priced slightly sweet wines. Only a few wine estates, such as Meerlust, Delheim and Kanonkop, made good drinking wine.
Winemaking was only revitalised after 1994, and then there was an exponential improvemnet in wine quality, says Birch”.
Su Birch mentioned the past 15 years. The authors mentioned the three wine estates, but did not specify the time-frame within which they were referred to as being 3 of a few estates making ‘good drinking wine’.
Themming nor reporting, they writing a book and one is a professor, so don’t blame the messaging, Mr Rhysing to the caucasian.