While SA restaurateurs don’t want sommeliers, the cycling duo who now own Klein Constantia clearly do. Charles Harman and Zdenek Bakala have hired a former best Swedish sommelier as GM, Hans Astrom. As an aside, it is worth pondering why do all sommeliers seem to be Swedish and what has this to do with the success of the novels of Stieg Larsson? Is this a variation of the joke of hell being the place where all the lovers are English, the police are Italian and the French are mechanics?
Hans will not have made any friends with his comment to The Drinks Business “It’s easy for family companies to relax and fall into routines. It’s better now [KC] is not South African-owned. The new owners wanted a cage-rattling renegade and I’m on a mission to wake up the sleeping beauty, blow the dust off and restore it to its former glory.” Foreigners buy a national treasure, hire a Swedish sommelier as GM who then rubbishes SA family wineries. Hans is clearly no diplomat like Dag Hammaskjöld.
Likewise his decision to cease production of Riesling, following hot on the heels of neighbour Buitenverwachting grubbing up their Riesling vines for braai wood, takes the Constantia Valley out of the Riesling Renaissance. “South African estate Klein Constantia’s new managing director is on a mission to pit its flagship sweet wine – Vin de Constance – against the best wines from Sauternes” perhaps, but comparing Vin de Constance to Sauternes is just silly as it is not a botrytis wine. Chas and Zdenek, have you taken a wrong turn and lost your way?
The Yank Who Played with Braaiwood.