Had a chance to taste the 2011 Glen Carlou unwooded Chardonnay recently and was blown away by its concentration and focus. Which must come from fermentation in one of Mr. Nomblot’s famous concrete eggs, shown below in February, with Lavender and Chris Patten and winemaker Arco Laarman. I always thought that the brand name Glen Carlou came from the Scottish demeanor and windswept (h)air of founder Walter Finlayson, until I was told it was the first three letters of the names of the daughters of the owner Walter bought the farm from back in 1980: Len, Car and Lou. A bit like Tokara, then.
Was this the thinking of May de Lencquesaing when she bought Glenelly, I wonder? But strange to report, Glenelly also makes a seriously underrated unwooded Chardonnay. Is there a connection?
By adding an unwooded Chardonnay to their range, Glen Carlou are doubling up their bet on the king of grapes, although they do make a Sauvignon Blanc from grapes sourced from Durbanville. Couldn’t help but wonder how many of the 160 different brands Christian Eedes and his Sauvignon slurpers battled through yesterday at the Sauvignon Challenge, came from the same vineyard on a farm in distant Darling. My bet is at least 40. Any chance of them getting similar scores?
What was surprising was the number of entries – a nice little earner for someone, given the fees paid and sponsorship from FNB. With previous Sauvignon Challenge mouthpiece WINE magazine dead and buried, seems that a dead tree media partner is not essential for a competition to succeed.
Or even the suspicion that medals are rigged, as is the case with the Michelangelo International Wine Awards. As one Michelangelo judge told me “If I open my mouth, all hell will break loose.” Seems like local producers just don’t care enough to complain – let’s hope the SA wine drinking public remain as ignorant. For the suspicion among consumers that big brands sport Michelangelo gold because they paid someone off, would surely subdue sales. Or would it – is this an African thing, a fact of life cynical consumers assume happens anyway?
Thanks for giving the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Competition a punt in your blog. As the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity, unless they spell your name wrong”.
Firstly, however, the “Sauvignon slurpers” (I like that!) did not battle through the wines. We had a very manageable 60 wines per day to get through in the first two days and today will be a few more than 40. We tasted some superb wines, and without letting the cat out of the hat, a wide range of styles have received the nod from the group of experienced judges (Christian Eedes, Angela Lloyd, James Pietersen, Louis Nel and myself).
Regarding the crebility of the results, we have an auditor sitting in on the process (at a not inconsiderable cost!) to ensure that everything is completely above board, and I can ensure you that no meddling will take place, and that you would be privy to the auditors report if you would want to request it.
Running a competition comes with costs. Unlike some other competitions, SBIG actually pays the judges for their time and travel, employ a completely independent auditor, pays for the venue and person coordinating the pouring, etc. we are using (i.e. the venue and logistics organiser has no relation to any Sauvignon Blanc producer, thereby further ensuring complete independence).
You are more than welcome to request the budget for the FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Competition from me, as there definitely is no profits to be bandied about that I know of.
On a more positive note, the wines we have tasted so far have been of an extremely high standard, with some truly excellent examples that will ultimately make up the Top 10. It is an honour for me to be involved with this competition.
Regarding the origin of grapes of the winning wines, we can only guess until such time as the results are made known on the 4th of November. Please diarise the date, as you will definitely be invited to come and sip and slurp some lovely Sauvignon Blanc with us!
Pieter de Waal
Secretary: Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group
Hong Kong really miss Chris Patten, Lavender, their two lovely daughters and their pet whisky. Chris governed Hong Kong during it’s most difficult period confidently, effectively and respectfully. Do come back to Hong Kong to visit us and we would welcome you with red carpet like the last time you came back. Cheers.