Like the song by Morrissey, the editor of The Guardian wished the ANC an unhappy birthday on Friday. David Astor will be spinning in his grave as his erstwhile organ, The Observer, switches from helping to grumbling. O tempora, o mores! Of course music will play an important part in today’s centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein, and rightly so, as the ANC shares a birthday with David Bowie. And while Bowie sang about a “starman, waiting in the sky” the SA politician with maximum stage presence, Julius Malema, at least, will be singing about a showerman, “giving me a hard time.” Heck, Juju can even use the same tune!Read More…
Another year, another Franschhoek wine writing competition and as expected, another scandal. This time the winning entry appeared in a UK magazine – The World of Fine Wine – whose contributing editor, Andrew Jefford, was one of the three judges.
In fact, Andy wrote a couple of stories in the edition in which the winning piece, a faux touristico-historical recount of the well-known Vin de Constance PR opportunity, appeared, making it into the table of contents of the weighty organ, unlike the winning entry. Do letters to the editor count? Andy’s participation was publicized before entries closed, so clearly no blind tasting this, unless Andy recused himself?
I had planned to boycott (like last year when Tim Atkin was the judge from hell who trashed SA wine writers, calling them barely qualified fans with typewriters, before judging entries) but Marilyn Cooper, Principal of the Cape Wine Academy, beat me to it and entered on my behalf. I thought it churlish to refuse when the organizers asked if the game was on and besides, what a joke if the entry was my Sarie Kos invention of Zef Wine, which is reproduced below in translation from Afrikaans. Quite a change in style to the maiden aunt angst of the winner that I thought US judge Jay McInerney at least, might like.
Ducking charges of Sour Grapes, the real tragedy is that, like last year, the winning entry appeared in a foreign publication with less readership in SA than the journal of Architectural Marvels of Ulan Bator and at £40 a back copy, unlikely to become a best seller anytime soon. Is this really what the sponsors had in mind? And why must there always be suspicions of a scam? Is this an African thing? A Franschhoek (“sunny place for shady people”) thing? A fine wine thing? Other Franschhoek producers are unlikely to be best pleased.
Exports of packaged and bulk wine to the Netherlands were down 500 000 litres last year but WOSA, Wines of SA, the exporters’ mouthpiece, has come up with a cunning cultural plan to reverse the decline. By sponsoring an Afrikaans Kunstefees (arts festival) in Amsterdam in June featuring well known tipplers Breyten Breytenbach, Gert Vlok Nel and Chris Chameleon, WOSA hopes to boost SA wine sales.Read More…
Dawn on the Paardeberg was like that scene from Apocalypse Now when the Hueys swoop in low over the paddie fields, unleashing bonfires of napalm on the natives. But this time the mission is to put out fires and instead of Wagner on the wireless, we have Jack Parow on the draadloos and vineyards for rice paddies. For this is the Paardeberg, HQ of the quality revolution which will take SA wine to the Next Level, if it gets a chance.Read More…
From: Reyneke Wines, Polkadraai, Stellenbosch 27 (0)21 881 3517;
Why: The Reyneke family farm Uitkyk in the Stellenbosch Kloof has a strange energy. For starters, it’s responsible for the current revival in Afrikaans musiek as musos as disparate as Koos Kombuis and Valiant Swart (and even the guitarist from Springbok Nude Girls) have lived there.
Bumped into Grande Roche head sommelier Josephine Gutentoft at Bar Bar Black Sheep this lunch time. Josephine reports that over 600 people attended the Real Men Ferment Wild tasting I hosted yesterday. I’m sure the explanation was the R50 entrance fee rather than my participation (which turned into a damp squib when the microphone was hijacked for another gig). Josephine was looking for any leftover Swartland Revolution cadres while simultaneously modeling the military-style Swartland Revolution shoulder bag.Read More…
It’s been a while since I last visited WineX and there’ve been a few changes. While free tickets may be harder to source, the most noticeable change is how the show has morphed from being a Cape Wine 2000/2/4/6/8 sipfest into more of a Norman Goodfellows Saturday morning shopping experience, as retail is most definitely the tail which wags this little monkey. Little wonder then that Walmart are gobbling up leading liquor retailer Makro when discounting rather than discerning palates is the new watchword in this Age of Austerity. An observation confirmed by David van Velden from Overgaauw at Wang Thai afterwards, a restaurant heaving with winemakers washed-up after the show – some with suitcases in tow and all with bottles in hand. Think Next Level Simply Asia with sweeter noodles.
The upcountry wine show circus owes a debt of profit to John Woodward who pioneered the retail concept in the face of legal threats and dirty tricks (alleged) from the status quo with his groundbreaking Jo’burg Wine Show.Read More…
The zef revolution in Afrikaans Kultuur is far from over with the news that Veritas, the National Wine Show, is to introduce three new categories for Brandy this year: standard, vintage and pot still. As rof-rapper Jack Parow was not available during the 3rd week of September, distiller Dave Hughes has stepped into the breach and will chair the tasting panel.
The prize for the most inaccurate story on SA wine this week goes to the Buenos Aires Herald for the following offering which appeared on Sunday. Let’s hope this feature is not a general reflection of the level of information supplied to visiting journos.
If 32 countries will be vying for the soccer World Cup in South Africa as from next month [the World Cup kicks off on Friday], almost as many nations have become serious wine producers in an increasingly competitive and globalized industry once dominated by a couple of European majors — and South Africa is one of them, alongside Argentina.
“Is Distell sponsoring Jack Parow?” asked the brandy CEO at dinner last week. If they aren’t, they should be, was my response as the rof rapper is the most exciting thing in marketing spirits since the Archangel Gabriel. What a delicious irony to confuse Jack (Parow) with Jack (Daniels), the aspirational drink from township to cluster home. When the Makro liquor catalogue devotes six times as many pages to imported single malts as to SA brandy, you can see the depth of the hole brandy producers find themselves in – deeper than that giant sinkhole in Guatemala City that swallowed a city block yesterday. Just compare Whisky Live with the recent Brandy Festival and pass me the Auchentoshan.