Business Day today quotes Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies that “the government is making some headway in getting China to open its huge market to South Africa’s value-added goods such as wines and not just to raw materials.” After a DTI exhibition in the Middle Kingdom in 2011 Rob claims “there have been R400m-worth of confirmed orders for value-added products, the biggest being wine.” Meanwhile SAWIS reports exports to China last year were down 7% from 5.5 to 5.1 million litres. So unless the wine component was all Johann Krige’s Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage, R400m looks optimistic. If this is “starting to make headway” then Rob should apply to run WOSA who last year famously claimed exports of bottled wine were on the up when it was the opposite, actually.Read More…
Back in the day when I wrote about wine in the Financial Mail for the late, great Linda Stafford, I would recommend a wine to buy and drink now; one to buy now and cellar and one to avoid. As was to be expected, producers would focus on the last category. It wouldn’t matter how much I raved about the cellarable or the drinkable. It was the avoids that made winemakers see red. So in our eagerly anticipated Neil Pendock’s Winelands Guide 2013, we’ve decided to declare we did not understand the wines we omitted, rather than accuse anyone of being friends with Brett, being the proud owner of dirty barrels or a host of other issues that cloud our understanding. Here is Anibal (below) at Doornbosch this morning, failing to understand a Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc.
We misunderstood 8 Sauvignon Blancs out of 28 for an impressive hit rate of 71%. Chenin Blancs were harder – we failed to understand 11 out of 20 for a hit rate of 55%.
For a consumer, a hit rate is arguably more useful than the number of five heart wines we met as if you assume we tasted a representative sample of Stellenbosch, you’re better off ordering Sauvignon with a 3 in 4 chance of satisfaction ahead of Chenin where the odds are even. But better yet is Constantia Sauvignon Blanc with a hit rate of 89% at Monday’s tasting.
Fascinating profile of Pierre Pringuet in the Independent today. This interview with the boss of the world’s #2 liquor company Pernod Ricard, is sure to be required reading at Aan-de-Wagenweg in Stellenbosch. For if this is not an invitation to Distell to elope, then nothing is.
Financial Mail food for thought columnist Justice Malala devoted this week’s columns to his memories of the late FMLife editor Linda Stafford. As Linda’s wine correspondent for two decades, I was interested to read this vinous madeleine: “She knew everything about wine and the people who produced it. In her usual forthright manner, she told me most of the wine coming out of the Cape was rubbish. Many of the estate owners were Jo’burg-based captains of industry who had little or no idea of what was happening on their farms.”
“Which of my secrets did I reveal last night” was how Linda Stafford would greet me at breakfast on the many overnight wine functions we attended. She was my tyrannical editor on the Financial Mail for two decades; I was her Neilus and we made a great team. Even if she did take more luggage for an overnight stay than the rest of the journo’s, put together.
After last week’s gloomy stock-take of SA wine in the Financial Mail (a story I comment on elsewhere in addition to other commentators) comes the news of a new marketing initiative for SA wine. Don Tooth, MD of Vergelegen, told Sasha Planting that he is “encouraging SA’s greatest wine farms to work together to develop and market” their architecture and history which “form the basis of a rich cultural heritage.”Read More…
There was something about the invitation to the launch of the Strongbow apple ale in a 660ml returnable glass bottle at Ko’spotong in darkest Newtown at 4pm today that caught my eye. So fortified with a medium rare beef pho from Saigon Pho in Milpark with my tyrannical editor at the Financial Mail, Linda Stafford, I headed for Ko’spotong.Read More…
I was depressed to see I was the only positive pundit quoted in Stafford Thomas’s Financial Mail cover story on wine this week, pessimistically entitled Down to a Drop which features a Greek chorus of doomsayers, Job’s comforters and moaners. Get over it – the glass if half full, not half empty. If you worship Mammon rather than Bacchus, you’re at the wrong address.
It’s a sign of hard pressed times when the Financial Mail asks for your summer shopping list, and you’re encouraged to focus on value for money. Not a hard thing to do with 2009 a comet vintage for Sauvignon Blanc and the year SA Pinot Noir came of age. Herewith my options for the hedonist and hoarder from this week’s FM:
Sauvignon Blanc is top of the terroir pops, reflecting special sites like a dentist’s mirror. 2009 is a comet vintage so good, it would have taken a flying saucer landing in the vineyard to stuff things up. While Henry Ford made Model T’s in any colour so long as they were black, SA Sauvignon comes in four styles: grassy, dusty, flinty and tropical – a NWSE compass of flavour identifiable on a map by taste.
Kiwi green stylistics with lashings of grass and gooseberry hails from the northwest coast where viticulture is rapidly replacing diamond mining. The vines of producers like Fryer’s Cove at Bamboesbaai are so close to the surf they have to spray water on the plants to take off the salt. While no prices are available as the secretary is getting married in Windhoek and the office has taken a week off, if it’s under R100, it’s a gimme.
The berries for Wendy Appelbaum’s DMZ come from Lambert’s Bay and although she hates Sauvignon, she’ll make an exception for this classy fin de siècle duif eie blue (duck egg blue) bottle which she insists is Tiffany blue. At R55 a bottle, Charles Lewis Tiffany is reportedly rotating in his grave.Read More…