As they would say in Phutadichaba if Bacchus ever visited, pansi uBulkWine, pansi! (down with bulk wine) and the alarming trend of SA producers to focus on bulk exports as its easier to sell one 25,000 litre papsak than 30,000 bottles. As Harry Eyres admits in today’s Weekend Financial Times “I do sometimes buy wine from supermarkets but usually I’m aware while doing so that I’m sacrificing something – call it soul, call it cultural biodiversity – to the gods of convenience. Once again, you can disaggregate not just the supermarket itself but its component parts, in this case the wine selection. If I am really interested in, say, Italian wines, would I find a satisfying selection in the supermarket?
Probably not: my local one relies heavily on one or two big firms that provide standardised versions of well-known denominations (Chianti, Barolo, Prosecco). You will not find a single Sagrantino, or Aglianico, or Morellino di Scansano. I would do far better to make a small expedition to a specialist shop such as Lea & Sandeman, whose buyers trawl the peninsula seeking not just the reliable, but the excellent.”
Over 75% of wine sold in the UK passes through a supermarket checkout and in the case of SA, it’s nearly all bulk. At lunch yesterday at 95 Keerom Street with Rico Basson (above), the CEO of Vinpro noted that bulk has replaced KWV as the sink for removing surpluses from the market place and transferring it to the supermarket aisle. He then went on to ask why are most SA bulk exports white? Seems that we’ve run out of bulk white but still have tanks full of red. Well if you look at the people who buy SA bulk, its mainly Russia and the USA. If SA wine focused on China, perhaps red bulk would take off. Or not.