Diners Club Winemaker of the YearTwice this past weekend über-nasty Neil Pendock has publicly shared that he has been fired from the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year judging panel, clearly very angry about this, and lashing out at Diners Club, its CEO Ebrahim Matthews, and its management and Board members.

One wonders how precocious Pendock can be surprised about being fired, when he:

*   has attacked the ‘Platter’s South African Wines 2014’ guide and the evaluation of wines in it ever since his services as a wine taster were no longer required.  The Guide is now owned by Diners Club.  He described the Platter’s Guide as ‘a cynical vuvuzela for fashionable wine brands‘!

*   has implied that as a director of Diners Club, Reg Lascaris’ part ownership of Boekenhoutskloof has earned its Cabernet Sauvignon a 5-star rating in the Platter’s guide.  He asks: ‘…is the Reg Lascaris/Diners Club cosy monopoly about to be challenged?’

*   wrote critically about the Diners Club gala dinner held at La Residence ten days ago, embarrassing the venue, the guests, and the management of Diners Club.

*   mocked Platter’s, in that the Arendskloof Syrah Tannat 2011 winning wine of Winemaker of the Year Christiaan Groenewald is not yet in the guide, having only evaluated the 2009 vintage – this after Pendock wrote about it as ‘Arendsig‘ some time ago!

*   wrote that Diners Club should be reported to the Competition Commission for its monopoly in ‘writing about SA food and wine‘, given the purchase of ‘Rossouw’s Restaurants‘ in addition to Platter’s.

*   suggested that the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year should be judged by the public, damaging the credibility of himself and his fellow judges (writing this before he was fired!)

I briefly met Ebrahim at the gala dinner, and even though he did not know who I was,ebrahim-matthews he graciously thanked each of us personally for attending the function.   He seems a gentle and fair man, and Platter’s editor Philip van Zyl confirmed this too.  He was upfront at the dinner in acknowledging that he does not drink alcohol for religious reasons, although he could think of a number of excuses to do so! He did say that although he does not drink wine, one can have a lot of fun with wine.

Podgy Pendock’s list of wine judging is getting shorter and shorter, especially after he went through a vicious and vitriolic phase in October, lashing out at the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (which has also dispensed with his judging services), costing him his blog presence on the Times Live blog platform, and the removal of all his blogposts ever written on that blog platform.  He may just be left with the TOPS at SPAR Fundi judging, but the retailer no longer reveals its judges in its advertisements, possibly to save itself from the embarrassment in still using his services!

PS: Diners Club has just announced the themes for its Winemaker of the Year evaluation until 2020:

2014: Dry White Wine Blends
2015: Non-Bordeaux Single Varietal Red Wines (excluding Shiraz).
2016: Chenin Blanc
2017: Pinotage
2018: Chardonnay
2019: Pinot Noir
2020: Mèthode Cap Classique

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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