Cabernet producers not chosen by UK wine writer Tim Atkin to be featured at ProWein next month – all paid for by WOSA - might like to ask Su and Andre just how these wines were selected. Was tasting done blind? Are there really no SA tasters who could have done the job? How much is it all costing? Or is this yet another WOSA wongafest, just like Su’s misguided support for bulk exports I wrote about in Die Burger yesterday:
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is my favourite economist. He’s one of the few
who foresaw the current financial calamity and one of the few who made
an honest buck out of it. His latest book, Antifragile (Random House
2012), warns against putting all your eggs in one basket.
Which is precisely what SA wine is doing shipping 25,000 litre plastic
bags full of wine to be bottled in Europe. While the overall carbon
footprint may be tiny, the price paid is huge in terms of fragility.
Instead of having thousands of customers – supermarket chains,
specialist retailers and restaurants – exports are now channelled
through a handful of importer-bottlers who will switch to Spain or
Argentina at the drop of a peso.
Russia was #3 export destination for SA wine last year with 31.6
million litres shipped – nearly all (30.2 million litres) in bulk and
most distilled into Vodka after a series of disastrous harvests and
fires in Siberia decimated the grain harvest. Weakness of the Rand
makes SA wine a cheap fuel stock. This is not exporting wine, it is
selling alcohol and there is no reason to continue to import any wine
at all from SA if the economics turn.
WOSA CEO Su Birch made another serious mistake at the end of last year when
she tweeted that WOSA is not anti-bulk wine. Bulk wine has no
fingerprints, no terroir. It is a commodity which certainly does not
need an expensive marketing organization like WOSA to promote it.
Across the South Atlantic, top end Argentinian producers are concerned
that “bulk labels could diminish a category’s prestige” according to
Marven Shaken, publisher of US magazine Wine Spectator. Su should
Of course Argentina is in the most fortunate position of seeing growth
in the USA in the $15-$25 segment at 41% from 2010 to 2011. SA’s
bottled exports to America were 8.8 million litres in 2011, creeping
up 6% to 9.3 in 2012, while bulk exports have more than quadrupled
from 3.3 to 13.6 million litres at prices well below Argentina.
But you cannot blame local producers for embracing bags. Vintage 2012
Holden-Manz Chardonnay was bottled earlier this month. A failure rate
of 15% (punts falling out of bottles and others splitting) goes a long
way to explain why bulk is booming. When the quality of local bottles
shouts “third world” and prices of bottles, labels, corks and capsules
are higher than in France, who can blame quality producers for
preferring to ship in bags to Rotterdam and thence by barge to
Strasbourg for bottling and distribution?
Wosa wongafest! How true, Su.