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.
The tradition in wine tasting circles is to stand when the contents of your glass is older than you. Something I’m doing less and less of these days, but a practise which would have had 22 year old Vergenoegd social media and marketing manager Matt Callcott-Stevens (below, under the horse) standing for most of Friday morning. But fortunately one taster didn’t pitch (rumoured to have been the father of freebees Mr. Min) and so there was one empty riempiestoel in the sacred circle of twelve, assembled like the disciples, to taste 40 vintages of Vergenoegd Cabernets. Foodie sources say marvellous Mr. Min wasn’t at the clashing Du Toitskloof Waterblommetjiebredie tasting in the Boland either, so hedonism’s hacks will be hoping he’s not indisposed.
Was this the best wine tasting ever in SA? Well if not the very best, certainly up there with Duimpie Bayly and his legendary line-up of sixties Pinotages or the house party hosted by Beyers Truter in Onrus to celebarte 350 years of SA wine.
Is US wine fakir Rudy Kurniawan musical? This would seem to be the implication of Jancis Robinson’s strange blog posting yesterday: “Rudy never seemed to have a girlfriend but sometimes brought his mother to wine tastings. He took over the restaurant Melisse in Los Angeles for her 60th birthday celebrations.” I should ask Jancis’s friend Tim James, who has a nose for this kind of thing, being an expert, as he is, in “suspiciously childless” wine farm owners both alive (on the now very dead Grape magazine) and dead (in Noseweak).
Is SA wine serious about China? The list of 27 exhibitors at next week’s VinExpo in Hong Kong – or Hong Kok as my dyslexic friend Pinky calls it (with Bang Kong presumably the capital of Thailand) concentrates very much on terroir by truck wines. Commercial wines sold mainly on price.
Where are the terroir treasures, the Kanonkops, Vergelegens and Meerlusts? Not a single one of the controversial UCT Top Twenty wineries are attending, although UCT’s self-appointed professor of wine, Tim James, has at last done the decent thing and signed up for a non-UCT e-mail with which to communicate with the industry. Perhaps the Platter guide will send Professor Tim east to present this year’s 5* stunners in the next chapter of the unseemly commercial luv-in between the guide and WOSA, the exporters’ mouthpiece.
Robertson is an appellation full of big men and women (mostly called either De Wet or Bruwer) who make wines with big flavours in big volumes. But there are also small indringers like Johan Fourie and his wife Marié, who bought 1400 ha of paradise on the slopes of the Langeberg eight years ago and planted 10ha of vines. For 15 years Johan was a corporate critter at the Development Bank of SA in Midrand. But dreams are for following and thank heavens they did for their 6000 bottle Shiraz blend called Limestone Q and 1800 bottles of Carignan called Carignina punch way above their weight and add immeasurably to the diversity of the SA wine offering.
The smell of rotting snoek is making the UCT Top 20 Wineries poll more fragrant than the pier at Kalk Bay. White, lower middle-class, upper middle-aged voters are scurrying to post their own private Top 20 lists on the net to distance themselves from the debacle. Those revealed to date on the Grape communal blog all contain Nederburg, Platter Winery of the Year in 2011 that couldn’t make the Top 20 this. Mr. Min (so presumably Ma Nolte too) and even self-appointed pollster Tim James all claim to have voted for Nederburg, so perhaps the auditors could comment on the curious omission from the final list or were there election monitors who can attest to the veracity of the poll. Or was it all a scam? Elections are never easy in Africa!
Pressing questions (press shown below) are being raised as to how the Swartland came to dominate yesterday’s UCT Top 20 SA wineries poll. First placed Boekenhoutskloof mackintosh-hillhouse-chair Marc Kent, second placed baby Jesus of SA wine Eben Sadie and charming Chris and beautiful Andrea Mullineux in tenth position are all leading lights in the annual Swartland Revolution. An event that poll organizer Tim James is involved with.
Not that any impropriety is implied. After all, that Marc was first past the post is to be expected, as Boekenhoutskloof is Winery of the Year in the 2012 Platter sighted wine guide. But even with ten 2011 Platter pundits voting plus editor Phil, the 2011 Platter Winery of the Year, Nederburg, could not make the Top 20. A fantastic result and quite frankly, unbelievable as Nederburg had three five star stunners in 2012 and a record breaking five in 2011. Nederburg cellarmaster and TV star Razvan Macici must be wondering what you have to do to get into the Top 20! Surely the last shred of credibility at Platter has been lost by this result. Or is the poll perhaps a fix?
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.
Does Gerard Holden, owner of Holden-Manz (along with art dealer Migo Manz) have a French Connection? His juicy Big G Cabernet from Franschhoek has a steely, svelte companion called Le G (de Château Guiraud, one of the local estates here in Bordeaux). I was enjoying it at a braii thrown by Planète Bordeaux which seems to be a French version of WOSA – an organization dedicated to oysters, sea snails, sushi, cheeses and tasty cocktail sausages washed down with some Bordeaux wines – plenty of them. I wonder if Bordeaux has considered a braii boek as marketing tool? Probably not, as with wines of the quality on offer last night, there is no need to distract the public with red herrings on the coals.