There is a plethora of Top 100s at the moment. This week’s edition of Time magazine features “the 100 most influential people in the world” while negociant Wade Bales has picked his Top 100 SA wines from 50 producers and will showcase them in Newlands the week after next. Which is most confusing as Robin von Holdt does a similar thing in St. James but I’d put Wade ahead as the St. James selection pool is 440 wines submitted to Robin’s competition along with a hefty entry fee.
That the top end of SA wine finally lost its patience with WOSA, the controversial generic marketing body for SA wine, was confirmed by the establishment of Piwosa – Premium independent wineries of SA - earlier this year. This was shortly after lame-duck WOSA CEO Su Birch started singing the praises of bulk wine exports, one of the most hard to understand positions of a marketer often at odds with producers and common sense.
The pippyjollers of Piwosa have not let the kikuyu grow under their feet and have taken the fight to the Gallic Goliath. For R850, you can see if you can tell the difference between Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux and SA Cabernet in London. The winner will get a free dinner for two at Quo Vadis in Soho. Platter pundits, who sadly need to see the label to make up their minds, are obviously excluded.
The depth of the marketing hole brandy has fallen into is confirmed when you buy a bottle of Cognac from Aficionados, Paul laCock’s sexy internet liquor retailer. They send you the brandy plus a miniature bottle of whisky along with a questionnaire with a full bottle of product up for grabs in a monthly competition.
I may not have written for winenews this year, having a) been fired as a columnist for being anti-WOSA or b) to give young, thrusting, up-and-coming writers like Graham Howe some space (take your pick), but I still get forwarded the odd email message.
Plus some misguided trolls and haters think I post comments on the site. Like the first one after Richard Rowe’s misgivings on Platter that sparked the most ridiculous Tim James drive-by hit yet. But I would sure love to meet George Burns, who summed up the debate last night with a good dose of common sense.
Poor Ebrahim Matthews, CEO of Diners Club. Not only is he teetotal, but now that the credit card owns the sighted tasting machine trading as the Platter wine guide, he has to deal with some of the lonely hearts with inadequacy issues who embrace wine as replacement for a social life. Not to mention Diners directors who own Platter wineries of the year. Talk about corporate governance hangovers!
The latest multi-Myprodol mess-up stars poor Richard Rowe, straight talking Aussie head winemaker at KWV, who posts a comment on winenews in the wake of Diners buying the spitting spectacle, bemoaning the sighted tasting algorithm employed by the guide. As do many people publicly from Dana Buys to Kobus Deetlefs and hundreds who do so in private.
Who wades into the debate on April Fool’s Day but Platter assistant/associate editor Tim James, chastising Dick for his “weird English” with the aside “surely KWV could afford someone to proofread his words.” But then perhaps Dick lacks a UCT PhD in English like Tim or is “writing here absolutely on [his] own behalf”, again like Tim. Anyway, Tim reckons KWV got off lightly as “personally, I believe that the ratings for the top KWV ranges, Mentors and Cathedral Cellars, are over-generous, if anything.” Although I didn’t detect Tim at the KWV launch of the new Roodeberg wines (white, red and rosé) last week or maybe he was obscured by Andre Morgenthal. Or perhaps he gets personal treatment like that supplied by Russian Pilates instructors at Shimmys or doesn’t need to taste them to form an opinion.
Well it’s official. I’m now a Roodeberg Homie after attending the launch of the Roodeberg Home in La Concorde yesterday afternoon. They’ve taken a leaf out of the Iggy Pop songbook
Everybody needs a home
including Roodeberg, that iconic red blend of Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot and now Petit Verdot, first blended in 1949 by Dr. Charles Niehaus whose sons were in attendance yesterday, red faced and beaming with paternal pride. How unexpected to quote Iggy in the context of KWV. But then how unexpected to see a KWV CEO address media and fans in jacket and jeans with nary a das in sight as Andre van der Veen (below) did and all in English. It was almost a polyester-free zone. How times have changed. Although I had to wipe away a tear (of hilarity) after we were taken into the KWV boardroom, that holy of holies, to be shown the Bible, silver bell and gavel used to bang down decisions by the Sanhedrin of SA wine.
So much for the season. Kyoto Garden, finest sushi restaurant in Cape Town by ten knots, next door to the Power and the Gory pub on Kloofnek, remained closed from November to January. Proprietor Scott Wood (below, right) had gone home to Los Angeles and then took a holiday in Japan but never made it to Hokkaido as the temperature was twenty C below in January. But he did pick up some fine wooden, almost tweezer like, hashi (Japanese chopsticks, otemoto) “which fit the new décor.”
Paul Theroux, one of the planet’s preeminent travel writers “with the disposition of a Hobbit”
and dad to Louis has fallen in love again. In public. With Cape
Town. His “best discovery of 2012″ in the Weekend Financial Times
is the Mother City which he claims is “the only city in Africa with
a claim to grandeur.” Sounding like a PR from Cape Town Tourism he
continues “I discovered it to be a city of great hotels and superb
An international spotlight was trained on the “wild west coast” this weekend by the Financial Times which visited German Philanthropist Sabine Plattner at her Yzerfontein hideaway, favourite fishing spot of Swartland cellarmaster Andries Blake. ”Plattner spends an average of three months a year at her Yzerfontein farmhouse, and she says that frequent walks with the family’s two resident dogs, Twistùr, an Icelandic Spitz, and Tara, a stray they adopted, help clear her mind.” Husband Hasso’s billion Euro fortune made from SAP software sales, also helps.
Diners Club should by rights own Franschhoek. Reg Lascaris, an owner of Franschhoek First Growth Boekenhoutskloof, is a director of Diners and prime mover of the recent co-branding of the credit card with the Platter sighted wine guide. In fact Boekenhoutskloof was Platter Winery of the Year for 2012 so linkage makes perfect sense. Nuptials took place in Franschhoek last month at the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Awards with Standard Bank directors flown down in droves for a board meeting and to load up on boxes of “books” after a private tasting. What a pity the Chinese shareholders were not included as the Middle Kingdom is the most attractive market for SA exporters.
But while Franschhoek may have surrendered its Food & Wine Capital of SA crown to Stellenbosch after last weekend’s Eat Out Awards, it remains the credit card capital as yesterday MasterCard moved in as R900K sponsor of the annual bubbly festival. Smart marketing as bubbly is the sexiest FMCG in town, as were the students showing punters how to tap their MasterCards to pay for tastings priced between one and five taps a pop with refills available at R100 for ten taps. Which makes you wonder what MasterCard pays for when tickets were R200? Thankfully I got a couple of freebees from the lovely ladies at La Motte. But events have clearly taken over selling wine as the way to make money in the Winelands.