This week’s Winery Owner of the Week [WOW] is Nathaniel Rothschild (below) whose stake in French First Growth and perennial Chinese favourite Château Lafite was valued at £400m in 2011 by the Sunday Times in their annual Rich List briefing for tax inspectors, kidnappers and the envious. Nat is in the news a lot these days as his battle against the beastly Bakries for control of Indonesian coal miner Bumi (a headline that could have been penned by that alliterating alimentarian Mr. Min) reaches a crescendo in London today.
Bennie Stipp (below, right), De Wetshof sales manager, wins the inaugural Pendock Prize for Wine Marketing for a Mangaung master stroke. Sitting next to an ANC functionary on a flight to China, Bennie landed the contract as exclusive wine supplier in the restaurant at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung this weekend. After reading media reports of the expenses claims of cabinet ministers and MPs, Bennie has caught the golden goose, as Jacob Zuma is famously the only ANC member who does not drink. The price? To sponsor wine for the Saturday night banquet for 900 with tickets going for R50,000 a plate, according to the Afrikaans press. Cheap at the price, I’d have thought, as the groot koppe will be drinking Jonnie Walker Platinum (in solidarity with mourning Marikana miners) and Moet by the Magnum.Read More…
There were laughs aplenty at the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award last night at the Conservatory in Franschhoek. Diners CEO Ebrahim Mathhews told 150 guests he was a victim of mistaken multiple identity: farmers thought he was a farm worker while security at the Conservatory thought he was the driver for his colleagues. What is it about teetotal bosses? While Jacob Zuma claims to be the only ANC member who does not drink, Muslim Ebrahim is in the same boat.
Believe it or not, but today is International Sauvignon Blanc Day. Obviously chosen by some northern hemisphere greenie as its mid-winter in the Cape, Chile and New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc is not the most appropriate wine choice. Unless its barrel fermented, like the superb MM Louw 2011 made by Thys Louw, below, on Diemersdal, the pearl in the pumpkin patch (Durbanville used to be called pampoenkraal and was famous among sailors of the VOC for its veggies). Times have changed and today Durbanville is more of a dormitory for Cape Town than vegetable patch, although the green emphasis remains, in the grape the appellation is perhaps best known for, Sauvignon Blanc.
A bad Monday for SA tourism starts off with Frank Chikane’s interview with Zainab Badawi on BBC Hardtalk. Poor old Frank couldn’t get a word in edgeways, which was probably just as well as he mixed up Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki, leaving everyone most confused about exactly what went down at Polokwane which seems to have ended in a coup d’état. A great exposition of local politics for tourists planning a trip to SA. NOT.
But even more serious was a Daily Telegraph travel story on the Western Cape which concluded “South African cheese. Try as we might, we couldn’t find one to match the marvellous wines. Maybe we just didn’t look hard enough.” Is there a COSA – the cheese equivalent of WOSA?
While the Champenois ditch fiddly flutes for their fizz in favour of white wine glasses, the ANC has an alternative. Toasting the centenary of the ANC in Bloem yesterday, the deputy president (and future one, if Juju has his way) Kgalema Motlanthe told the crowd “we also toast that the ANC in the next 100 years have the ability to feeling [sic] very deeply [for] the suffering of our people” according to The New Age (one country, one paper) who continued “Motlanthe told the crowd that those who did not have glasses should use their clenched fists in the toast.”
Talk about bad timing. Absolut Vodka celebrates 30 years of marketing distilled potato juice (winter wheat, actually) to lesbians, gays, transsexuals, bisexuals, transgenders, the musical and left handed folk on the day a London coroner blames the stuff for causing the death of party girl and torch diva Amy Winehouse.
While my friends in the Douro fry eggs on their bald pates, in steamy Hong Kong its not clear how much more climate change can be tolerated without a mass migration to the poles. First Lady of HK wine, Debra Meiburg MW was at VinExpo last week and attended the latest climate change presentation “the current effects of climate change in California’s Napa Valley.” Like many things in France, it started an hour late. By way of coincidence, I wrote about the issues in the Sunday Times yesterday.Read More…
The front page of today’s Business Day quotes SABC acting (aren’t they always, these days?) CEO Robin Nicholson that his charge will lose up to R400 million if there is an outright ban on TV and radio advertising of alcohol. They’re not the only ones, as the paper’s own Wanted supplement thrives on a liquid diet with lavish, mostly full-page liquor advertisements bulking out the April edition.
As the world’s media goes gaga with reports of Friday’s royal wedding, the importance for South Africa’s wine farmers cannot be underestimated. For when Wills ascends the throne, he will be the largest vineyard owner in the world.