Franschhoek, once the most media-savvy appellation in SA, has shot itself in the foot like the elephants they used to cull with cannon borrowed from the castle, back in the salad days when the place was called Olifantshoek. For F’Hoek has decided the annual Wine Writer’s Prize will not be awarded this year and sponsors Porcupine Ridge, will keep their R25K. Presumably the judges (below), Xhosa translators and PR agencies will still get paid!
Yesterday’s Su shock scoop crashed the Uncorked site. Rosebank nerds are on the case and are confident of fingering the hackers, more to follow. But back to the scoop of Su waving sayonara into a Kalk Bay sunset on April 1.
If the industry decides to continue with WOSA, (after all, can SA wine in reduced circumstances afford plush new Paarl offices for both Vinpro and WOSA as one billionaire asked?), there are ten things (at least) that need to be got right to recover from the current condition of expensive irrelevance.
Cabernet producers not chosen by UK wine writer Tim Atkin to be featured at ProWein next month – all paid for by WOSA - might like to ask Su and Andre just how these wines were selected. Was tasting done blind? Are there really no SA tasters who could have done the job? How much is it all costing? Or is this yet another WOSA wongafest, just like Su’s misguided support for bulk exports I wrote about in Die Burger yesterday:
Powered by ABSA bank, it makes sense that the Pinotage Association at least should take the Wall Street Journal seriously. And the news that it’s Pinotage-doubting columnist Lettie Teague has seriously grasped the iron banana (so-called after tasting comments at the ABSA Top Ten Pinotage Competition over the years) has energized the Association.
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…
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…
A curious comment from Tim Atkin, wine writer and blogger, quoted in OLN as he picked up an award from Wine Intelligence. WI seems to be a marketing/PR company that recently gave one to embattled WOSA CEO Su Birch (cynics may wish to count how many Wine Intelligencers crack a freebee to Cape Wine 2012 as Su has long used WOSA largesse to market her own career). “Wine journalism is under threat from bloggers and declining interest in wine.”
Paul Cluver, CEO of the eponymous wine producer, gave a presentation on Pinot Noir, the heartbreak grape, at Prowein this week. As part of the presentation, he asked three wine writers for their opinion and as is so often the case, the answers reveal as much about the wine writers as they answer the question.
Another year, another Franschhoek wine writing competition and as expected, another scandal. This time the winning entry appeared in a UK magazine – The World of Fine Wine – whose contributing editor, Andrew Jefford, was one of the three judges.
In fact, Andy wrote a couple of stories in the edition in which the winning piece, a faux touristico-historical recount of the well-known Vin de Constance PR opportunity, appeared, making it into the table of contents of the weighty organ, unlike the winning entry. Do letters to the editor count? Andy’s participation was publicized before entries closed, so clearly no blind tasting this, unless Andy recused himself?
I had planned to boycott (like last year when Tim Atkin was the judge from hell who trashed SA wine writers, calling them barely qualified fans with typewriters, before judging entries) but Marilyn Cooper, Principal of the Cape Wine Academy, beat me to it and entered on my behalf. I thought it churlish to refuse when the organizers asked if the game was on and besides, what a joke if the entry was my Sarie Kos invention of Zef Wine, which is reproduced below in translation from Afrikaans. Quite a change in style to the maiden aunt angst of the winner that I thought US judge Jay McInerney at least, might like.
Ducking charges of Sour Grapes, the real tragedy is that, like last year, the winning entry appeared in a foreign publication with less readership in SA than the journal of Architectural Marvels of Ulan Bator and at £40 a back copy, unlikely to become a best seller anytime soon. Is this really what the sponsors had in mind? And why must there always be suspicions of a scam? Is this an African thing? A Franschhoek (“sunny place for shady people”) thing? A fine wine thing? Other Franschhoek producers are unlikely to be best pleased.