The UCT Top 20 poll of SA wineries as reported in the Mail & Guardian today speaks way more to the competence and conflicts of interest of the judges than in does about SA wine quality. The poll was solicited on the digital equivalent of a UCT letter head: sent from an academic e-mail account with a UCT office telephone number by a member of the staff of that institution – that infamous barefoot agent provocateur Tim James. I refused to participate for various reasons. If bag had a sense of humour, I’d say today’s poll was Sunday’s list and the real one would be revealed later.
For starters, where is Nederburg, top performing cellar in last year’s Platter sighted guide with a record breaking five five star stunners? Surely with the editor, his wife and with most of the “wine writers and judges” visualizers for the guide voting, there would have been support their 2011 opinion? It’s like a low-budget remake of Peter Greenaway’s 1989 romantic crime drama the cook, the thief, his wife & her lover.
Where is Rust en Vrede? Jean Engelbrecht has been delivering the goods for many years now. Appreciated by the Wine Spectator and ignored by the local (mostly self-appointed) punditry it seems. Is it an Afrikaans thing, Jean? Ditto, Danie de Wet from De Wetshof whose Chardonnays are a benchmark.
De Morgenzon should be there – if only to reward owner Wendy Appelbaum for sorting out Rael Levitt which has done more to raise the profile of SA wine than WOSA. That it was the only SA winery to feature in last year’s Wine Spectator Top 100 is icing on the koek. As should Rijks and Saronsberg who put Tulbagh on the map. Oak Valley has been robbed and so has Morgenster. And so on and so forth.
The lesson for SA producers is that most of the luvvies who voted (the roll call of infamy is listed below) are hopelessly partial and out of touch. The rest are speaking to their pockets. For consumers, it’s the empty cave lesson of ancient Greece – caveat emptor!
That UCT Top 20 in full:
2 Sadie Family Wines
4 Paul Cluver
8 Cape Point Vineyards
9 Hamilton Russell
10 Mullineux Family Wines
15 Bouchard Finlayson
17 Klein Constantia
18 Newton Johnson
20 De Toren
Roll of infamy – the voters
Sommeliers: Hansi Blackadder (sic), Josephine Gutentoft, Higgo Jacobs, Francis Krone, James Pietersen.
Retailers: Carrie Adams, Mike Bamfield-Duggan, Carolyn Barton, Vaughan Johnson, Roland Peens.
Wine writers and judges: Sarah Ahmed, Tim Atkins, Christian Eedes, Michael Fridjhon, Jamie Goode, Edo Heyns, Tim James, Matthew Jukes, Angela Lloyd, Cathy Marston, Fiona McDonald, Norman McFarlane, Melvyn Minnaar, Ingrid Motteux, Myrna Robins, Christine Rudman, Jonathan Snashall, Cathy van Zyl, Philip van Zyl
If judges will stop having nookie with each other, the real Top 20 could stepping forward be. They areing worse than bonking Easter bunnies.
Hi, Neil. You mention eight producers that should have been there “and so on and so forth”. Which ten or so selected producers on the top 20 list would you not have had on your list, to accommodate the eight plus that you deem to have been robbed?
The whole poll is an ego trip for Tim and hugely damaging to SA wine. If you asked me “which are your top 20 Pinot producers?” and gave me a blind tasting, I could answer that.