Diners Club should by rights own Franschhoek. Reg Lascaris, an owner of Franschhoek First Growth Boekenhoutskloof, is a director of Diners and prime mover of the recent co-branding of the credit card with the Platter sighted wine guide. In fact Boekenhoutskloof was Platter Winery of the Year for 2012 so linkage makes perfect sense. Nuptials took place in Franschhoek last month at the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Awards with Standard Bank directors flown down in droves for a board meeting and to load up on boxes of “books” after a private tasting. What a pity the Chinese shareholders were not included as the Middle Kingdom is the most attractive market for SA exporters.
But while Franschhoek may have surrendered its Food & Wine Capital of SA crown to Stellenbosch after last weekend’s Eat Out Awards, it remains the credit card capital as yesterday MasterCard moved in as R900K sponsor of the annual bubbly festival. Smart marketing as bubbly is the sexiest FMCG in town, as were the students showing punters how to tap their MasterCards to pay for tastings priced between one and five taps a pop with refills available at R100 for ten taps. Which makes you wonder what MasterCard pays for when tickets were R200? Thankfully I got a couple of freebees from the lovely ladies at La Motte. But events have clearly taken over selling wine as the way to make money in the Winelands.
My pick of the new bubbles was the Jewel Box (above) of John Loubser’s Green Man operation in Robertson. At R220 a bottle, this is the closest SA fizz comes to Edward Hopper’s lifetime ambition of illuminating the effect of light falling on an object without painting the house, diner, whatever itself. It’s named after a lucky packet full of stars in the Southern Sky and is not a reference to Zheng He, Chinese Admiral of the Western Ocean who circumnavigated the Cape long before Bartolomeu Dias did. Zheng was nicknamed “three jewels” as he was a eunuch who carried his severed penis and testicles around with him in a jewel box. A Muslim, he would have little use for Green Men or MasterCards, for that matter.
Totally opposite in style is Ivan Oertle’s Pinotage MCC (above) that Laibach does for Woolworths. Laibach is an organic Stellenbosch producer that sells most of its wines to China. The reddish hue is suitably Chinese while the strong fruit character will go well with Peking Duck.
At last, a chance to taste the R130 a bottle Paul René (Marais), also from Robertson, the bubbly homeland for quality SA fizz. 100% Chardonnay, this blanc de blanc is well worth looking out for. I Love My Laundry on Buitengracht has stock and they accept MasterCard.
The MasterCard presence seems to have been aimed at their cardholders as they had a sort of members only cheft tent where you could have lunch.
As a marketing exercise it seems to have been a flop as one or two food writers who attended told me that they have been scouring Cape Town all week to put freebie bums on seats, so poor was the uptake by cardholders.
Seems it wasn’t special enough for them.