The fortunes of top end SA wine in Europe are reflected in entries for this year’s Concours Mondial which are down over 20% to 184 while Australia’s are up by the same margin and New Zealand’s have rocketed over six fold. This for a competition widely regarded as the most credible and which has attracted a record number of entries this year: 8200 from 50 countries with 2500 from France alone. Which could explain why Fiona McDonald is the only other SA judge in Bratislava this year. But is SA wise to give CMB the cold shoulder and to follow the lead from WOSA which focuses on the UK market and competitions? The future for wine exports in Europe lies outside the traditional WOSA comfort zones with management seemingly stuck with SAA destinations to earn Voyager miles and to visit family and friends while claiming a handy per diem.
Wine show entrepreneurs are running scared as it looks like the new liquor legislation may bring an end to their hugely profitable retail party. Already organizers of the Gugulethu Wine Festival, the best show in town, are warning exhibitors to stand-by for a ban on show sales, which may make many a wine festival unviable. For a hard hitting critique of the new legislation, consumers can catch the owner of WineX, Michael Fridjhon, on the subject in Business Day earlier this month. Although the subs did pull Michael’s punch for not flagging potential conflict of interests. But with dead-tree media depending on liqour marketing in many ways, perhaps this is all taken as read?
Off to Auslese in Gardens this afternoon for the TVM Wines trade tasting and a typical Cape Town experience. At first I thought it was Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards with dyslexia, but it turned out to be Tracy van Maaren, which was even better as the wines were wonderful. Although there was a sting in the tale when the car of gorgeous Kalinka Lombard, of WineStyle fame, parked opposite Auslese, was broken into and her brand new lap top was stolen. The attending car flies then tried to rush her for a phone card to get the computer back. Quite how anyone can run a restaurant in a crime hotspot i.e. central Cape Town, defeats me. Lucky it didn’t happen at Helen Zille’s SA Wine Index gig yesterday. Or does the Premier have better security than rate payers like Harald Bresselschmidt? For Helen, security is so tight, you have to email them your ID a week before the function!
Poor Lucy Shaw, gaffe-prone hack for DB. After a fab freebee to SA for Cape Wine 2012, her hilarious attempt to pay back host WOSA by declaring then CEO Su Birch (did she or did she not quit yesterday?) 48th most powerful woman in wine was derailed by the shockingly sexist image (below) that had sisters and cross-dressers up in arms. Now her story on Oldenburg was sabotaged by the cheap, attention grabbing headline “OLDENBURG OWNER HITS OUT AT PINOTAGE.”
The Taj Classic Wine Trophy competition played out last night over rare lamb racks that went down in the record books as the best awards dinner main, ever. Anel and Samarie (below) clearly agreed. The starter of Franschhoek salmon trout was not too shabby either and the wines matched both courses exceptionally well as of the 14 wines awarded, no fewer than 13 were identified with a geographic appellation.
Hats off to the wine marketers of Steenberg for embracing the Chinese dragon in the shape of their HMS Rattlesnake in this, the Year of the Snake. Who cares if the grapes and/or wine come from Alexanderfontein in Darling, as is the case with most quality SA Sauvignon Blanc. The bottle of 2011 we enjoyed at Birds on Bree for lunch, poured by Miselwa (below), sure rattled my cage (geddit?)
Pinotage got off to a good start to 2013 in an unlikely place – the columns of the Wall Street Journal. Long-time Pinotage-hater Lettie Teague penned an unexpected column headed Does Much-Unloved Pinotage Deserve Another Look? before answering her rhetorical question in the affirmative. For Lettie has long boasted about her antipathy to SA’s great grape with the same offhanded brio bigots use to parade their racist, anti-semitic and homophobic prejudices. Her last swipe was as recently as October in a drive-by shooting of the grape in a Californian Merlot story.Read More…
That WOSA CEO Su Birch is again seriously misguided to proclaim that WOSA is not anti-bulk wine is confirmed by top end Argentinian producers who are concerned that “bulk labels could diminish category’s prestige” according to Marven Shaken, publisher of US magazine Wine Spectator. SA bulk should be so lucky to be labeled!
Of course Argentina are in the most fortunate position of seeing growth in the USA in the $15-$25 segment at 41% from 2010 to 2011. SA’s bottled exports to America were 8.8 million litres last year, creeping up 6% to 9.3 this, while bulk exports have more than quadrupled from 3.3 to 13.6 million litres. Quality SA producers – and in particular the Estate Owner’s Association which periodically tries to regrow some cojones - should seriously think about resuscitating their own WOSA-free marketing initiative to the USA. WOSA’s annual R35 million translates into quite a few business class tickets, Stateside.Read More…
The news that Chris Hellinger has sold his fisherman’s paradise in the armpit of Africa, Bom Bom Island, to Africa’s first astronaut Mark Shuttleworth, is reason enough to suggest a visit to Chamonix which is also owned by Chris. While Franschhoek itself may be running out of steam as the Food Capital of SA, when it comes to barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc, on its own or blended with Semillon, Chamonix winemaker Gottfried Mocke is on the topmost rung. Here he is (left) with Belgian restaurateur Christian Cloos on Tuesday.
A bouncy but abbreviated birthday cruise on Table Bay yesterday afternoon with glamorous PR Nicky Arthur and a gaggle of tourism’s hacks plus Cathryn Henderson, the Anna Wintour of wine, on the muscle boat Ocean Princess (below). Rustic Italian snacks by Big Route in Green Point, which I misheard as Big Root, which would play well Down Under.