Having survived the demonstrations against the Pharrell Williams concert earlier this week, Woolworths aggressively took over the Sunday Times today, getting the newspaper to change its masthead and branding colour to green, with the placement of two double page spread advertisements, and getting a front page story out of it too! Woolworths shouts about its green and responsible Continue reading →
What an amazing experience it was to sit next to Clem Sunter at the 5th anniversary of the Thursday Club lunch at Buitenverwachting yesterday, the guest of the wine estate’s PR consultant Sandy Bailey. At the lunch Sunter’s new book ‘21st Century Megatrends: perspectives from a Fox‘ was launched. Sunter was the first speaker at the Thursday Club at its launch five years ago.
We were welcomed with a choice of a glass of Buitenverwachting Blanc de Noir or Meifort (a blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon). Sunter was already in the restaurant, and was happy to pose for a photograph, volunteering to move away from the glass door so that the light did not affect the photograph, clearly an old hand at this. We started chatting before the lunch started, and I received a quick overview of his talk, and learnt a lot more about him.
Christopher Sunter was born in the UK, the only son of a mother he was very close to, and went to school at Winchester College. At school Sunter played the guitar, and the first song he sang was ‘Oh my Darling Clementine‘, which led to his classmates calling him ‘Clem‘ after the song, and the name stuck. He went to Oxford, and there he started a band with his friend, called the Clem & John Band. His biggest claim to fame is the fact that the band co-headed a concert in Oxford at which the Rolling Stones performed as well, in June 1964, and he ended off his talk with this information. We were lucky to have Clem sing for us at the table, his face lighting up as he did so. He shared that he performed with eleven other CEOs at a concert at The Barnyard in Johannesburg last year, organised by Reg Lascaris, the proceeds going to charity. He sang ‘Peggy Sue‘ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes‘ at the concert, and ‘Peggy Sue‘ for us at the table too. Should his career as a scenario planner ever fail, which is highly unlikely, he can fall back into a career as singer! Sunter also is very funny, saying that every year for three weeks he lived in the home in which his mother lived before she passed away. Every evening they were served a glass of wine, and he told a funny story about the residents of the home which brought the house down as he started his talk. Sunter joined Anglo in London after university, and moved to Anglo Zambia in 1971, and then to Anglo South Africa two years later, serving as a Non-Executive Director of the company now, as well as consulting to corporates around the world as a scenario planner, and writing books. Sunter has owned a holiday house in Simonstown for a number of years already, and he and his wife plan to move to Cape Town next year, a ‘semi-gration trend’, he said. They live in Rosebank in Johannesburg and he said that he loves living in Africa, and feels completely at home in this country. Two of his three children live outside South Africa, one of them in Perth, which caused a laugh as I had asked him whether we need to pack for Perth again, which he now refers to ‘parched Perth’ due to the impact of climate change on Australia. Continue reading →
* Andrew Bird, Marks & Spencer Head of Trading, which includes wines, non-food, and ambient grocery, is moving to Woolworths for a two year contract as Trading Head next month. He helped drive Marks & Spencer to be named best retailer at the International Wine Challenge in four out of the past six years. Bird is said to become head of the ‘wine and soft drinks teams‘ at Woolworths locally.
* The Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) was part of a consortium that completed Terminal 3 at São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport, on time and on budget, for the 2014 soccer World Cup, reports The New Age. The project is described as one of the World Cup successes, the new terminal processing all international flights to the city. The capacity to handle an additional 12 million passengers to the 30 million handled annually has been created. ACSA is also part of a consortium that Continue reading →
* Pernod Ricard, international marketer of Absolut, Mumm, and Martell, has seen a 18% decline in sales in China in the first half of its financial year.
* The Karoo is one of the world’s top nine stargazing destinations, which includes the Algarve in Portugal, Ayer’s Rock in Australia, Atacama Desert in Chile, Jasper National Park in Canada, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Grumeti in Tanzania, Kitt Peak in Arizona, and Gülpe in Germany.
* SAA has applied to introduce new routes, and new codeshare agreements with a host of new destinations, including Moscow, Asuncion in Paraguay, Lomé in Togo, Praia and Ilha do Sol in Cape Verde, Jakarta, Kingston, and Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. The airline has also applied to increase the frequency of its African routes, including Lagos, Blantyre, Lilongwe, and Accra.
* Twitter now has 5,5 million users in South Africa, up by 129% in just one year. (via Twitter)
The function moved to different venues inside the hotel, a welcome glass of Balance Boldly Brut being served with a canapé of samoosa filled with crocodile (luckily we were not told what was inside when it was served!), bacon, and green apple on an Asian spoon, in Sandy B, the downstairs bar.
The tasting was held in the downstairs Bistro, with an introduction of Overhex Wines International by co-owner and MD Gerhard van der Wath. The company was established seven years ago, and he got Swiss winemaker JC Martin, co-owner of Creation and son-in-law of highly respected winemaker Walter Finlayson, on board as winemaker. JC and Gerhard recently bought out the other partners, and JC makes his own Creation wines as well as blending the Balance wines. The company is one of the top 20 exporters of South African wines. Their strategy is to be different, Gerhard said, which shows in their fun label of an elephant balancing on the letter ‘l’! They develop different styles of wines for different markets. All the grapes are bought in for their wine production, a total of 10000 tons. He shared that they have won the largest number of wine tenders in Finland in the past Continue reading →
It’s not often that a negative becomes a positive for tourism to Cape Town, but when the BA flight from London to Cape Town, with celebrity Gary Barlow on-board, had to turn back due to a large number of the cabin crew becoming ill, the story made the Saturday issue of the UK Daily Mail.
Barlow was a member of Take That band with Robbie Williams, is a singer-songwriter and record producer, and is an X Factor UK judge. He Tweeted “Well I made it to Cape Town. It was worth all the drama. Beautiful place” when he landed in Cape Town on Saturday, and soon thereafter he posted the photograph of himself on Table Mountain, with Table Bay in the background. He followed up the Tweet with another: “Wow, so many of you have been here. In future I’ll ask for tricks and tips before I travel #gbarmy”.
Cape Town could not have wished for a better endorsement of its beauty, the Tweets with his photograph going to close to 1,4 million of Barlow’s Twitter followers, and the article in the Daily Mail used the Twitpic too, as well as another beautiful shot of Table Mountain, with the caption: “Stunning: Table Mountain in Cape Town is an iconic landmark and is visited by people from all over the world”, the newspaper having 4,5 million readers, according to UK Newspaper Marketing Agency figures for 2011. Barlow is in Cape Town to shoot a commercial for Marks & Spencer.
Fifteen BA crew members became ill during the flight on Wednesday, and the captain had to turn the plane around and headed back to London 2½ hours after take-off. No passengers were affected, and the cause of the illness is not yet known.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @Whale Cottage
On Friday I was fortunate to experience a tasting of some of the wines in the Overhex Wines International range, and specifically their new additions to the two year old Balance range, which was held at one of the most popular restaurants in Cape Town, namely Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen.
The Test Kitchen in the Old Biscuit Mill premises in Woodstock is a small space, and we must have been about thirty journalists and bloggers who were lucky enough to be invited by charming PR consultant Nicolette Waterford. The stature of the event was reflected by the attendance of Sunday Times wine writer Neil Pendock, Cape Wine Master Christine Rudman, Cape Times wine writer Cathy Marston, Christian Eedes, Wade Bales, Spit or Swallow’s Anel Grobler, Joanne Gibson, Greg Landman, and more, and the restaurant venue must have been an important attendance drawcard. Spread over the two tables were staff of Overhex, including the co-owner Gerhard van der Wath, who manages the company, in close co-operation with JC (for Jean Claude) Martin, who is the Production Director, and is responsible for the wine styles and blends, assisted by Jandre Human, the cellar master. Being private-owned means that Gerhard and JC can make quick decisions. They are not restricted to only the grapes of their region, but can buy in the best grapes to suit their requirements, including from the Swartland, West Coast, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch, allowing them to make wines at different price points. The Overhex farm in the Breede River Valley outside Worcester produces about 10 000 tons of grapes, and about 5 million litres are bought in, JC told us.
JC (on the right, chatting to Greg Landman) has a Swiss German lilt when he speaks, and arrived in South Africa six years ago, having met his wife Carolyn (daughter of Walter Finlayson) on the wine estate in Switzerland on which he worked at the time, where she came to present label designs on behalf of the London design agency she worked for. His association with Overhex started in 2005. Alongside the Overhex wine involvement, JC makes his own Creation wines in the Hemel en Aarde valley outside Hermanus. While this was not a Creation function at all, we did discuss the wines and the marketing of them, which JC does on the side when he represents Overhex wines overseas. His wife does the marketing of Creation wines locally, and they had an average of 300 visitors per day in their tasting room over the festive season, he said. They are very excited about the fact that the Western Cape province has placed the Caledon – Hermanus gravel road going through their valley as number one priority on the list of roads to be tarred in the province, and they see this as being of huge future benefit to themselves and their colleagues on the recently created Hemel en Aarde Valley wine route. I sat opposite JC, and asked him questions abouit Creation – he did not talk about Creation when he addressed the guests. JC told me he studied winemaking in the French part of Switzerland. Switzerland is not generally known as a wine producer, but JC told me that the Swiss drink all the wine produced in the total area of 25000 ha, and therefore it is not exported. Whalepod is a new Creation brand, and we have started stocking it in our Whale Cottages. JC told me that they are launching a new Syrah/Malbec Whalepod blend. Tasting rooms on wine farms are unique to South Africa, in that one can visit most wine farms without making an appointment, making this wine tourism valuable to wine farms selling their wines from the cellar door – for Creation it represents 30 % of their sales.
In 2003 Overhex was started as a co-operative, and was bought by Gerhard and a partner in 2005. Initially their focus was on the international market, and they now export to 25 countries. JC told us that they export to supermarket and liquor groups such as Marks & Spencer, CO-OP UK, and Fosters, making own label wines for them. Most of the wine is made to the specific requirements of each of these chains, and exported in bulk, and bottled in the UK and in Germany. Ten Overhex brands are exported, being 3,5 million bottles in total.
The reason for the launch function was to introduce the new additions to the Balance range, being the Winemaker’s Selection Shiraz 2010 and Winemaker’s Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2010. They complement the existing Balance range of Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (won a gold medal at Michelangelo 2010), Shiraz Merlot 2010, Pinotage Shiraz 2009, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010, Chenin Blanc Colombar, Reserve Unwooded Chardonnay, Sparkling Vin Sec, Sparkling Vin Doux, Shiraz Rosé and a sweet Rosé, aiming them at the domestic market for the first time. Balance has been shaped for local wine drinkers, and the range is designed to be easy drinking wines with a shorter life span. We were asked to evaluate the wines relative to their price point, the Winemaker’s Selection Sauvignon Blanc costing R40 and the Winemaker’s Selection Shiraz costing R45, representing incredible value, as none of the white and red Balance wines are more expensive than these two prices. JC said that the Balance wines should not be judged on price alone, in that a cheaper wine does not mean that it is a bad wine. Overhex operates ethically and cares about its supplier farmers, in that they offer them a price for their grapes that allows the farmers to survive. The Balance wines are available at ULTRA intitally, and they are working on expanding the distribution at local outlets. I asked about the elephant on the label, and the designer was at the function, but she could not explain it, other than that it was on the first Balance labels. The Balance pay-off line is “for life’s lighter moments”. The Overhex cellar now has a tasting room and Bistro, and locals are invited to visit the wine estate. “Our goal with Balance is to get the wine lover to celebrate everyday wine culture, making it easy to enjoy delicious wines from a varied range at an affordable price point”, said Gerhard.
The Test Kitchen food was outstanding, and deep fried sushi was served before we started. I chose a Trout tartar starter, which was light and perfect for the hot summer’s day. As I had the kingklip when I had dinner at the restaurant in December, I ordered the beef fillet, and it is the softest I remember ever having, simply presented with green beans. For dessert the choice was a cheese platter and lemon tart.
The launch and tasting of the Overhex Wines International Balance range of wines, ‘paired’ with the wonderful food by Chef Luke-Dale Roberts of The Test Kitchen, and the gift pack of Balance wines, was the start to an exceptional day, which ended with the attendance at the U2 360° concert at the Cape Town Stadium for many attending the function.
Overhex Wines International, 71 Stockenström Street, Worcester. Tel (023) 347-6838. www.overhex.com Tuesday – Thursday 10h00 – 17h00, Friday and Saturday 10h00 – 16h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage