Down to some serious stuff at the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon last night – matching Sauvignon to some of the local delicacies of Aquitaine: fried pork fat, pigs ears and blood pudding. Oysters are a cinch and it’s hard to beat the sharp wines from Touraine in this department. But we were almost evicted from the Bordeaux Brasserie for claiming that an €18 Spaniard with a curly G sandblasted onto the bottle was a great all round match. Well at least we assume it was Spanish and Sauvignon Blanc because the only thing on the bottle was G – no vintage, no alcohol admission even. Perhaps Gerard Holden from Franschhoek has been visiting. It’s hard to argue in the basement of the Brasserie (below) as people throw bread at you from the balcony above before you make your point.
Seated in an English enclave, the gossip at the Brasserie was as juicy as the Boeuf de Bazas. I’d totally missed the Kiwi wine writing scandal late last year. As one website comments “Sam Kim, on his excellent website Wine Orbit, will happily bleed you of an extortionate NZD$34 to review your wine. Raymond Chan will up the ante so he can retire a bit earlier with a whopping NZD$37.95 for his review services. -> Are we now to believe that all of Bob Campbell’s previous reviews have been sullied by payments he received ( I believe for a similar fee)??” SA producers should here bells ringing at this point as Bob – a Master of Wine, no less – along with James Halliday and Michael Fridjhon, ran that curious Tri-Nations Challenge for many years, now expanded to Five, I hear.
Would anyone pay anyone to review wine in SA and if so, how much? The NZ model translates to R220 a bottle. A Johannesburg retailer told me in January that one Johannesburg “commentator” is asking R1000 a bottle, which sounds quite rich. But in principle, is there anything wrong with the practice if the fact that payment has been made, is disclosed? One South Island producer said they find it far better to pay for reviews than entering competitions as only the very top scoring competition wines get tasting notes (if you’re lucky) while for the same price, you can buy several reviews and use the best one. Most competition entries disappear into the spittoon without a trace – hardly an efficient use of resources.
Another fascinating thread of conversation was the perils of wine judges getting photographed in a bear hug with a blogger. Said pictures then appear on their sites to lend them credibility. Perhaps wine judges should charge appearance fees as a second income stream to writing tasting notes. If it’s good enough for Angelina Jolie, surely its good enough for Angela Lloyd?