Don’t know whether to award the logo below to Franschhoek marketers for their FLF wine writers none award fiasco last week or to SA wine hacks whose response to the none award has been bizarre. A round robin polling a united response to the none award includes John Maytham, one of three judges who were reported to be “in unanimous agreement” that the entries were drek; the Department of Wine at the University of Cape Town issues pompous opinions from the Ivory Tower while one Franschhoek publisher forwarded the call to pencils to the PR company who organized the none award. Perhaps the most sensible suggestion came from Cathryn Henderson, editor of Classic Wine magazine, to approach the none award sponsors to run a wine writing course. But who would present it? SA writers are obviously too rubbish to contemplate… Loosely translated from Slovak, the sign below warns the public against shoddy poseurs.
Dinner at Camphors Restaurant last night on Vergelegen after the intronization of a case full (12) of new Commandeurs de Bordeaux. Here are two – old boy Anthony Hamilton Russell who is beaming as turnover is up 45% – and GT Ferreira who is smiling because a) he has just been intronized by Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg with a wooden traditional weapon; b) he has a glass of Domaine de Chevalier 2008 in his hand, or both.
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.
Tousled haired terroiriste Nina Caplan, drinks columnist for left-leaning New Statesman magazine, puts the boot into Pinotage this week. “When I was there [in SA] five years ago, the Chenin Blanc was terrific; there were great reds but a lot more awful ones and the South Africans’ incomprehensible pride in Pinotage – a red grape that no one else has adopted, for excellent reasons – wasn’t helping.” Is this the kind of thing mayor of London and bon vivant Boris Johnson had in mind when he referred to “lefty tossers” this week?
The news that Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll (below) has laid down her jack hammer, ricocheted around the Winelands this morning like a cork from a shaken-up Methuselah of Boschendal bubbly. For Don Tooth, CEO of Anglo’s renewable resource play Vergelegen, reported directly to Cynthia.
The news that Altydgedacht, the pearl of Pampoenkraal, is to go on auction confirms the scale of the seismicity in the Winelands. The most sensible buyer from a wine point of view would be Distell as Altydgedacht is the source of Chenin grapes for Razvan Macici’s benchmark Nederburg Edelkeur. Backsberg may also be a buyer as they source Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the farm. But wine pales in comparison to the land value of the farm, located on the fringes of Cape Town suburbia. Who knows, perhaps Bill Foley will overcome his antipathy to SA wine and snap up a bargain? My thoughts on the farm.
After judging 32 2011 Pinotages at Nederburg yesterday, Anthony Hamilton Russell summed up the vintage. “2011 is all about fruit. The only crimes are winemaking ones.” And judging by my scores, he is not wrong. “If you think 2011 was a fruit vintage, then you’ll love 2012” added Gideon Theron, head winemaker at Lutzville Cape Diamond Vineyards. And sure enough, the single 2012 entry elicited a score of 17/20 from Miguel Chan and moi. “If that’s from Robertson, I’ll eat your hat” offered Hammo. And although this was a blind tasting, I’ll be keeping an eye out for 2012 Pinotages with terrific titfer terroir. Addicts of Cockney rhyming slang will know what I’m talking about.
To launch the new red blend from Vergelegen called DNA in Blighty last week, Vergelegen MD Don Tooth recalled the reaction of winemaker André van Rensburg to the great grape of Burgundy: “I will sleep with men before I make Pinot Noir.” This addition to the André annals is supplied by the Drinks Business and is a curious way to market wine. But probably OK in the UK, as long as you keep Miss Whiplash out of the joke. Now we know why Pinot Noir is called the heartbreak grape.
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.