Commissioned to write 1500 words on “global warming and the SA wine industry. How rising temperatures have affected wines and farming methods locally and what will it bring further” my thoughts have been somewhat focussed of late.
Although writing from a cold and rainy Cape Town, it’s hard to believe in global warming – especially when Peter Lilley writes in the Spectator that global temperatures are not increasing. “There is a legitimate argument that the world should phase out fossil fuels to minimise global warming. The power of that argument has weakened recently. Global temperatures have failed to rise for 16 years.”
Marketing meltdowns in Franschhoek and science aside, there is certainly a perception that the mercury is climbing. Jancis Robinson, to wine what Nana Mouskouri is to Greek music, opined on the weekend that “wine is one of the most sensitive measures of climate change” and that change is up when you read about increasing quality of English wine and those from Canada.
One of the biggest changes at this year’s Nederburg Auction is to the selection process with a couple of Masters of Wine and foreign palates (below, who dominate Auction video coverage in spite of having faces better suited to radio) added to form a “new look” old look all-white tasting panel of 10 (7 boys, 3 girls). The results will not impress cultural workers, feminists or Pinotage producers with Shiraz outnumbering Pinotage by 2 to 1 if you ignore historical lots from Oude Libertas and the brave ABSA Top Ten Pinotage selection. Which comes as no surprise, given the prejudice shown to the SA USP red cultivar by selectors like Brit “Dr.” Jamie Goode who infamously noted “Pinotage is vile” before going on to say some nasty things about the cultivar. Quite why such bigoted palates are still taken seriously is a mystery. If indeed they are.
While few wine lovers would seriously compare SA wine to the best cuvées from France, when it comes to bedroom stats, SA winemakers have little to be ashamed of according to Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, whose findings confirm previous theories of race differences in penis size. SA winemakers power in at 6 inches erect, substantially ahead of France at 5.3in. Ratings are presumably Platter compliant i.e. made sighted.
For a flash when Trenton Oldfield, the Aussie LSE graduate with an MSc in “contemporary urbanism” emerged from the Thames on Sky News in a black wetsuit after disrupting the annual Oxbridge boat race, I thought it was ubiquitous UK wine blogger Jamie Goode, spotted surfing in the Cape last week – or northern France, as French tourism authorities may wish you to believe. But closer examination reveals that Trenton has more hair.
The UCT Top 20 poll of SA wineries as reported in the Mail & Guardian today speaks way more to the competence and conflicts of interest of the judges than in does about SA wine quality. The poll was solicited on the digital equivalent of a UCT letter head: sent from an academic e-mail account with a UCT office telephone number by a member of the staff of that institution – that infamous barefoot agent provocateur Tim James. I refused to participate for various reasons. If bag had a sense of humour, I’d say today’s poll was Sunday’s list and the real one would be revealed later.
Keeping elephants as pets is no longer practical in England. Long gone are the days when King James I kept some in St. James’s Park and allowed them one gallon of wine a day as defense against the English winter. Now there’s a nice brand idea for Carel Nel, who uses pachyderms to stomp his Boplaas grapes.
Meerkats are more practical in Blighty today and The Guardian reports that they have become surprise cult bestsellers with titles such as “When Meerkats Turn Bad; 101 Uses for a Dead Meerkat; Where’s the Meerkat?” flying off bookstore shelves while Big Schalk Burger’s Meerkat wines fly through the supermarket checkout.Read More…
Necking a few buckets of Berne at &Union (as you do, for the imported beers are sold there, like religion, as a trinity for R90) yesterday with Bertus Osbloed van Niekerk, I realized the time has come for SAWi (SA Wine index, pronounced savvy as in knowledgeable). Perhaps not to be the über arbiter of SA wine quality as advertised, but rather as a voice of reason and spokesman for sensible producers. An industry representative body, if you like; a WOSA with wisdom.
Off to a Port tasting at Graham’s in Vila Nova de Gaia this morning. “Just climb into a taxi and say ‘take me to Graham’s Port Lodge in Gaia’” said Raul. So of course we chose the only taxi driver in Porto who didn’t know where Graham’s was. The wines were super, with my rating of the Tawnies the 20 year old, followed by the 40 and then the 30yo. “Do you have an agent in South Africa?” Our tastemaster disappeared and reappeared with a file listing NMK Schulz, who went bang a couple of years ago. No wonder the SA selection of Graham’s products is less than optimal.
Robin von Holdt, CEO of last month’s Top 100 St. Jamie Wines divertissement, is a Jamesian version of Bill Murray (with less hair) in Groundhog Day, that 1993 Hollywood comedy directed by Harold Ramis. For come 11am on a Sunday, he’s on his St. James stoep, on the pots. As fin24.com records:Read More…
Challenged for mocking the judges at the Top 100 St. Jamie Wines competition as white, middle-class (and middle-aged) Englishmen (which they overwhelmingly are) twice by St. Jamie Goode himself on this blog, I play the race card again in the Sunday Times today, pointing out that the preferred bubbly of black and beautiful US rappers is not Cristal, a bubbly imported into SA by the owner of another wine show, the Old Mutual Trophy tourney.
A rival competition cringingly appealed to by Greg Sherwood, another of the white, middle-class Englishmen (sic, see below) judges on St. Jamie’s site: “No doubt Michael F of the Old Mutual Competion is picking over the results… Michael… do yourself and the SA industry a service and proclaim the results as honourable, accurate and wonderfully respresentative of our diverse industry! It will only service your own cause! Much more fun than a law suit!” Honour, accuracy, representativity in wine competitions? What novel concepts!Read More…