After last week’s Fine Brandy Fusion Festival, it was interesting to see today’s attack on bow ties in the Weekend Financial Mail by Sir David Tang, no slouch in the sartorial stakes. As the festival is one of the many exhibitions organized or owned by Bacchanalian entrepreneur Michael Fridjhon whose exotic bowties brighten many a winelands celebration. Are fashions changing?
If pizza is the people’s food then Chenin Blanc is surely the people’s wine. So off to Burrata at the Old Biscuit Mill to pair Chenin and pizza for the Spier Secret Festival at the end of October. The aim is a simple one: to get Chenin into each pizzeria in SA. For heaven’s sake, let’s retire WOSA and use the R35 bar to get Chenin ‘fridges into each pizzeria in SA. Next year, use the cash to promote Bordeaux blends. And so forth and so on. Focus on food, not fickle fashion.
Speaking of which, pizza is a so much better vehicle for marketing wine than the braai idea (or braii as Andre Morgenthal hilariously punted it in Canada) that WOSA wasted millions on. As we discovered matching a truffle oil and prosciutto pizza with the rich 21 Gables Chenin 2010 from Spier at lunch today. With Jean Engelbrecht’s Donkiesbaai Steen 2011, a seafood pizza with or without chili aioli? shown below, with yellow aioli on one half and the other, naked.
The decision to wrap this coming Sunday’s Sunday Times Lifestyle in an Au.ra wrapper speaks volumes and confirms the positioning Van Ryn has chosen for its über-bling latest and priciest offering. In with the ego watches and fashion accessories. Not in Food Weekly nor as a travel destination. Even if the first SA brandy was distilled onboard a ship in Table Bay by a ship’s cook.
At the Wednesday opening night of the Fine Fusion Brandy Festival in Sandton, the most pumping stand was that of Bisquit. Distell big man Jan Scannell confirms he’s off to Cognac next month to open the refurbished Bisquit Château in the village. Any bets Business Day’s Wanted supplement cracks the invitation to cover it within those glossy FT How To Spend It-inspired pages? Distell marketing mavens must be hoping editor Gary Cotterell, Cape Town’s less extravagantly punctuated Tyler Brûlée, sends spirit medium David Cope, rather than himself. Guess it will all come down to the class of travel offered.
The launch yesterday of a Van Ryn super premium brandy called Au.ra (below) at the Michelangelo Towers as a curtain raiser to the annual Fine Brandy Fusion Festival is the most serious attempt thus far to convert brandy from a working class beverage to a luxury good. And it’s desperately needed as today’s Business Day profile of Sishen confirms. Workers have had something of a windfall from Kumba with over 6000 receiving around R500,000 each from a share ownership scheme. The Kathu Spar has seen turnover rocket 58% while the Tops at Spar liquor store shoots out the lights with 64% growth. Manager Rudi Botma says the newly rich miners are blowing their bonanzas on expensive liquor “particularly whiskies. Guys are consuming more. They also bought cars and TVs.”
Right on cue for the start of blind tastings next month for the upcoming Pendock Guide to the Winelands 2013: wining, dining and accommodation comes the launch in the USA of Vinderpants: underpants for wine bottles to hide the family jewels. The US version comes in standard Jockey Whites, the kind British PM John Major famously wore outside his trousers.
Bottelary Hills winery Stellenrust, the largest Fairtrade producer in SA, has won gold. And we’re not talking the tawdry tat dished out by dodgy wine competitions. But Olympic Gold as their Chenin Blanc 2012 and a 2012 Rose made from Pinotage, Shiraz and Merlot has been selected along with a red blend from Brazil (hosts of the Olympics in 2016) as the bespoke wines for the London Olympic Games. The good news was reported last week by Decanter.
The effects of WOSA’s reduced promotional spend in the UK, down from R3.6 to R2.3 million this year, is becoming all too obvious. The Telegraph has given SA the cold shoulder in its recommendations of whites, rosés and reds for summer with wonderful bottle shots supplied by the splendidly named Heathcliff O’Malley. So what chances a Telly Tubby gets a business class plane ticket out to Cape Wine 2012 in September? Quite high, I would have thought, as last year WOSA were offering free copies of their ill-fated braii boek to Telegraph readers while readers of the SA Sunday Times were told to buy their own. The promotion clearly backfired rather badly.
The rough beast of WB Yeats “its hour come round at last, slouching towards Bethlehem to be born” in his apocalyptic poem The Second Coming has a name: Concha y Toro. Half shell, half bull, it is now listed in over 200 Pick ‘n Pay supermarkets around the country, including Bethlehem in the Free State. It’s actually the ear of the bull, but shell also Google translates and after tasting their maritime Sauvignons Blanc, perhaps even more appropriate. The star of yesterday’s High Street Shopping Village Winter Wine Festival in Durbanville IMHO was the 2008 Trio blend of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc plus Shiraz (a style Decanter magazine, the best in the world they claim, calls a Bordeaux Blend), being modeled below by importer Andy Barrett from NixAn Wines in Bedfordview.
The Cape’s Chenin Blanc bandwagon continues to gather pace as Jancis Robinson chooses two SA Chenins – the Origin Swartland Chenin 2011 and the Jordan, Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2011 – in the 14 whites she lists today as part of her Financial Times 25 summer bargains. These are the only SA wines chosen under a £10 cut-off price ceiling.
Judging for the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Competition this year should be a pleasure if the wines are all like the Diemersdal 2011 Reserve Thys Louw showed me yesterday. Only bottled last week, even in the deepest bottle shock, the wine could not help blowing us away: succulent fruit, judicious oaking, excellent balance (14% alcohol) and tight tannins like the lily feet of the concubine of a Chinese emperor. Which is where this one will probably end up, as Thys remarks the People’s Republic can’t get enough of his Pinotage.