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.
With SA mining in sy moer in (fell into a hole), Stellenbosch is fast becoming the business capital of SA. Which explains the parking jam of SUVs at Muratie yesterday that made the historic precinct look like a suburb of Boston – all that was missing was the black helicopter with infrared camera or perhaps Maties had stopped their satellite tumbling and aerial support was supplied from space.
The boere billionaires had gathered in Annatjie Melck’s kitchen for afval (offal) and to tell jokes, as is their want. May I suggest an item for the next menu for Christo, Whitey, Jannie, Markus en die manne? Why not sponsor a Battle of the Berge: Simonsberg vs. Helderberg with no prisoners. Choose a vintage for whites and another for reds and pair up two teams of terroir wines of comparable styles, to be judged blind by customers of Checkers, Capitec, Pep Stores, PSG or anyone of the plethora of Stellenbosch businesses with a national footprint, selected via in-store competitions or social media. After all, these are the consumers who buy the stuff and not the sacred cows, self-taught sommeliers, MWs and other bovine bibulists whose exhalations of hot air contribute so much to global warming.
2012 was one comet vintage for Anri Truter, winemaker at Beyerskloof. But talk about bad timing. Being in the family way, he has to brave the winter piazzas and pizzas of Rome in January to fit in his prize of a trip for two to the Eternal City as Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year. A prize he palmed for his Diesel Pinotage 2010 which retails at R400 in the tasting room. We tasted it in Czech crystal on Wednesday.
Sales manager Andre Franzen (below) confided that Riedel stemware is off the menu as Stellenbosch University students steal 100 glasses a month from the tasting room. An incredible statistic as there are not even 100 students in final year oenology. Although as winemaking jobs are scarcer than rocking horse droppings, changing courses to a life of crime is understandable. And fashionable, too.
No wonder the Stellenbosch wine festival was cancelled this year and the Beyerskloof crime statistic supports the decision to transfer to Bedouin tents next month as enuchs and bald shemales have been hired to enforce Sharia law with scimitars on thieves.
when Fons Aaldering launched his eponymous wine brand on an unsuspecting SA in May 2010, shortly before the soccer World Cup, he chose La Colombe as launch pad. Alas, lunch left much to the imagination, featuring as it did, homepathic truffles and foie gras. “If you ever come to the Netherlands” offered Fons “I’ll take you to a decent restaurant.” So on Thursday I was treated to the meal of my life at De Librije in Zwolle, home town of Herman Brood. Here is Fons and our chef, Jonnie Boer.
The headlines in today’s Guardian do not make pleasant reading for WOSA, the body battling to market SA wine overseas. “South Africa: striking workers burn vineyards in protest over ‘hunger wages’.” The vineyards in question are those of table grape producers in the Hex River Valley and reading the story, it seems that one factor in the current wave of labour unrest is pressure from seasonal workers from as far afield as Somalia. Minimum wages are quoted at R69.39 per day so clearly workers have grounds for complaint.
Following in the deep footsteps of Cape Wine 2012, it seems SA wine just can’t get enough of wine expos. The latest is planned for Stellenbosch (Oak City) in January which will host a ten day Bacchanalian which culminates in a three day Wine Expo on Die Braak which “will take full advantage of the beautiful natural surroundings with rustic tables, green décor and free-flowing Bedouin tents.” Bedouin tents showcasing wine is an innovation to make a mullah mad.Read More…
A century ago, Jewish smouse (traders) from the Pale of Settlement rolled out the future to the Boland. Their synagogues, now redeployed as pastel painted museums, still stand as poignant memorials to a hardworking generation who built SA in the days when it was bicycles and not BEE that delivered. After a few generations of gentle urban gentrification, their place has been taken by Chinese merchants and Bruce Lee lookalikes with waving golden cats beckoning profits into Platteland shops stuffed with low price “made in China” treasures.Read More…
Last week was Chardonnay Week when Christian Eedes unveiled his Top Ten Chardonnays at French Toast in Bree Street. After a decent interval, I thought I’d show mine, distilled from a couple of hundred tasted blind with Anibal Coutinho (below, looking pensive in Rawsonville) over the past couple of months. Alas, no sponsorship from banksters or insurance salesmen and we also didn’t charge any entrance fee. All ten wines scored ♥♥♥♥♥ and are listed alphabetically. They are just a handful of wines presented in Neil Pendock’s Winelands Guide 2013 which will be launched next month.
All wines are terroir wines made from grapes grown in a particular appellation which is where they were tasted. Tastings were organized by the respective wine routes so any auditing queries should be addressed to them. There is a fair amount of similarity between our two lists – far more than in the case of the controversial FNB Sauvignon Blanc selection, which raises plenty of interesting issues around terroir and cultivars.
Last night may have been good weather for ducks in Oak City, but our feathered friends drew the short straw at Terroir, celebrity chef Michael Broughton’s funky restaurant on Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch. Foie gras terrine for second starter, duck ragout with pecorino pasta for first main (it was a five course menu plus cheese) launched the Olive Brook range of Spar wines on an unsuspecting wine media.
Back in the day when I wrote about wine in the Financial Mail for the late, great Linda Stafford, I would recommend a wine to buy and drink now; one to buy now and cellar and one to avoid. As was to be expected, producers would focus on the last category. It wouldn’t matter how much I raved about the cellarable or the drinkable. It was the avoids that made winemakers see red. So in our eagerly anticipated Neil Pendock’s Winelands Guide 2013, we’ve decided to declare we did not understand the wines we omitted, rather than accuse anyone of being friends with Brett, being the proud owner of dirty barrels or a host of other issues that cloud our understanding. Here is Anibal (below) at Doornbosch this morning, failing to understand a Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc.
We misunderstood 8 Sauvignon Blancs out of 28 for an impressive hit rate of 71%. Chenin Blancs were harder – we failed to understand 11 out of 20 for a hit rate of 55%.
For a consumer, a hit rate is arguably more useful than the number of five heart wines we met as if you assume we tasted a representative sample of Stellenbosch, you’re better off ordering Sauvignon with a 3 in 4 chance of satisfaction ahead of Chenin where the odds are even. But better yet is Constantia Sauvignon Blanc with a hit rate of 89% at Monday’s tasting.