For a case study on how to run a drinks writing competition, the Franschhoek Literary Festival should climb down from their wooden rocking horses and consult with Brandhouse who run the Responsible Drinking Media Awards.
For starters, prize money is nearly quadruple the R25,000.00 offered by the prickly rodent. An amount which has not increased in five years, even if it is such a lavish sum for John Maytham he was unable to find anything worthy to lavish it upon. After all, 25K must be the equivalent of a couple of voice overs. Silence from Canuck Chris and the French Hope as the prize does not sound quite so grand in dollars or euros.
The non-award of the “5TH ANNUAL SOUTH AFRICAN WINE WRITERS AWARD” is a scandal with more legs than Oscar Pistorius. In spite of twenty entries received, including one from the 2012 Louis Roederer Wine Columnist of the Year – a prize presumably judged at least in part on his entry in this competition and not because he imports Louis Roderer bubbles into SA as some cynics maintain (thank heavens for blind judging!) – Solomons see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil (below) reached a “unanimous decision this year that not one of the entries lived up to the expected literary and technical qualities of wine writing” according to Franschhoek Literary Festival Director Jenny Hobbs. Up to a point, Lord Copper, up to a point.
Now that the Franschhoek Literary Festival has put the RM Williams into the goolies of SA wine writing by wastepaperbasketing the 20 entries for the annual Franschhoek Wine Writers Prize this year, it looks like SA wine will increasingly have to rely on the likes of Guy Collins who writes on SA wine for Bloomberg from London. Picked up yesterday by Business Day in a major spread “SA wine industry set to beat export record” his numbers are more of a joke than the stats of corked wines at the recent Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.
The sub-headline crows “growers raise a glass to another good year with exports rising 496 million litres” except the total volume was 460.9 million litres so the previous figure must have been -35.1 million litres. Perhaps consumers returning corked bottles?
Lenin’s tomb reopened on Red Square yesterday after refurbishment due to water seeping into the foundations. Which was quite appropriate as towards the end of his life, Lenin became a mushroom due to overconsumption of fly agaric according to Russian musician Sergey Sholokhov. Could this be the reason behind the irrational behaviour of the trio of judges at the controversial Franschhoek Wine Writers’ Prize this year? They had transformed from mammal to fruit (below) as painted by Guiseppe Archemboldo.
Is the worm about to turn? Fiona McDonald, SA’s leading international taster with berths at the IWC, IWSC and Concours Mondial, reports that some of the UK’s fiercest Pinotage sceptics are having to eat humble pie washed down with Pinotage. As proof of this, a story on Aaldering Pinotage: straight, white and unwooded called Lady M in today’s De Telegraaf, the leading Dutch dead-tree newspaper (below), edited by the brilliantly named mnr. J.J.M Paradijs:
Esporão winemaker David Baverstock was trying to conscript me into the Hava Nagila conga line being belted out by Bratislava superstar CC Slonska last night at the Palugyayov Palác when the music stopped, mid-lunge. CC was a vision in a long green dress slit from ankles to waist. She had impressed queuing for the Slav Corner buffet of suckling pig and gammon steaks (but alas, no potatoes as spud-addict Liam Campbell noted sadly) and the daggers glared at her by every other female in the room added a medieval menace to the banquet to round off the Concours Mondial.
She was so good (sort of a cross between Nana Mouskouri and Nina Hagen) and her choice of song so camp (I Will Survive) many thought she was a Slovakian ladyboy although Timo Jokinen, who lived for many years in Thailand, denies it on the evidence of her hands. What is it with this crazy idea if a woman does well, she must be a man in drag? That many UK lady wine writers look like men is no argument at all.
That the Dumas family does not make more of Marlene, arguably the greatest living SA artist and international superstar of note, is a marketing mystery. Marlene was born on the family wine estate Jacobsdal in Stellenbosch whose wines are distributed by Distell, usually far from slouches in the marketing department.
Don’t know whether to award the logo below to Franschhoek marketers for their FLF wine writers none award fiasco last week or to SA wine hacks whose response to the none award has been bizarre. A round robin polling a united response to the none award includes John Maytham, one of three judges who were reported to be “in unanimous agreement” that the entries were drek; the Department of Wine at the University of Cape Town issues pompous opinions from the Ivory Tower while one Franschhoek publisher forwarded the call to pencils to the PR company who organized the none award. Perhaps the most sensible suggestion came from Cathryn Henderson, editor of Classic Wine magazine, to approach the none award sponsors to run a wine writing course. But who would present it? SA writers are obviously too rubbish to contemplate… Loosely translated from Slovak, the sign below warns the public against shoddy poseurs.
The fortunes of top end SA wine in Europe are reflected in entries for this year’s Concours Mondial which are down over 20% to 184 while Australia’s are up by the same margin and New Zealand’s have rocketed over six fold. This for a competition widely regarded as the most credible and which has attracted a record number of entries this year: 8200 from 50 countries with 2500 from France alone. Which could explain why Fiona McDonald is the only other SA judge in Bratislava this year. But is SA wise to give CMB the cold shoulder and to follow the lead from WOSA which focuses on the UK market and competitions? The future for wine exports in Europe lies outside the traditional WOSA comfort zones with management seemingly stuck with SAA destinations to earn Voyager miles and to visit family and friends while claiming a handy per diem.
The 20th edition of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles kicked off in Bratislava this morning and this year’s fashion statement is beards. Here is US blogger Ryan Opaz modelling some porno topiary while my Panel #1 consists of judges from France, Portugal and Belgium and is a hairy affair. Bratislava has so many students, its nickname is Partyslava and with the evening free, we’ll see if it can hold a candle to the Partyberg, the hip name for the Paardeberg in the Swartland.