Douglas Green the brand turns 70 this year and chatting to Douglas Green Junior (below), great grandson of the founder of E.K. Green, a Cape Town wine merchant founded in the 1840s, it was the loss of the cammeraderie of 70 years ago that he noted as the biggest change on the wine scene over seven decades. “Stellenbosch Farmers Winery was the fun company and [SFW CEO] Bill Winshaw would call us all in, members of the wine merchants association, and feed us Chateau Libertas and fat cigars and tell us not to cut prices. I worked for the Distillers Corporation for six years as I wanted to learn from a genius, Dr. Anton Rupert. But Distillers was a different kind of company where everyone wanted to be seen as the last to leave the office at night.”
Paarl used to be the appellation winemakers would fall over themselves to get out of. Wellington has decamped en masse and later this month I’m MC’ing a WOW dinner at Kleinevalleij for 300 guests to celebrate snipping the umbilical cord connecting Wellington to Paarl. A dinner which is shaping up as the hottest ticket in the Winelands.
There has also been a steady trickle of wineries leaving Paarl for Franschhoek. Wineries like Backsberg which was a blow as Michael Back was a former chairman of Paarl Vintners now renamed Paarl Wine Route. Now under dynamic new management, it has seen five producers sign up so far this year.
But the real revolution in Paarl is in wine quality. If you have R65 to spare, buy a bottle of Rhebokskloof Rhone blend 2010 (Mourvedre, Grenache and Shiraz) simply called R. Below is a happy Anibal Coutinho modeling his bottle of R at Burrata last night.
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.