Yesterday I attended the launch of the new Flagstone Tasting Room in The Rockwell hotel in Green Point, a facility designed to capitalize on the tourists visiting Cape Town during the summer season.
At the presentation of the 2016 FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 awards at Nooitgedacht outside Stellenbosch on Friday, it was announced that eight out of the Top 20 Sauvignon Blancs come from Elgin and Durbanville.
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The Chenin Blanc Association hosts a tasting of its top members’ wines twice a year, to match the summer or winter season. Last week a tasting of 25 top Chenin Blancs was followed by a summery Italian-inspired lunch with a view onto Table Mountain at Meloncino in the V & A Waterfront.
The tasting of the 25 Chenin Blancs was divided into five groups of five wines, and was led by Jeff Grier of Villiera, a gentle good off-the-cuff speaker, being so good with his notes that he often knew more about the wines than was shared by the winemakers. Jeff stood in for Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, who spends a lot of his time marketing his wines in the USA. What makes these events great is that writers can meet a number of the winemakers at the table, getting to know them a little better, the Simonsig (Hannes Meyer), Ayama (Liezel Delport), and Rijk’s (Pieter Waal) representatives sitting Continue reading →
* Distell has created a wine marketing subsidiary in the UK, called Distell Vineyards & Estates, which is also marketing its wines in Germany, Holland, and Finland. UK sales are £ 32 million. CEO Carina Gouws emphasised the importance of the UK market: ‘The UK remains the most important market globally in terms of positioning premium brands. Wines that perform well in there are noticed by the rest of the world’. The company is planning to aggressively increase its market share four fold, focusing more on independent retailers and the on-trade in the UK.
* A review of the MyCiTi Bus performance has shown that the service surpassed its target by over 2 million ‘passenger journeys‘, reaching 7,4 million in the past financial year. The recent introduction of the N2 Express to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain has boosted the passenger numbers to over 1 million per month. Changes to be made to routes include culling the Waterfront Silo extension from the Civic Centre on the Camps Bay route (which we criticised from the outset when launched a year ago). Route 113 along Ocean View Drive from Three Anchor Bay to Fresnaye will be cancelled on 6 October, due to low demand. One wonders why market research was not conducted to check demand for the service.
I was sorry to miss the vertical tasting of ten vintages of Saronsberg Shiraz at Auslese last week, not being able to attend earlier in the day due to a work commitment. I was however able to taste two of the vintages with the lunch prepared by Aubergine Chef Harald Bresselschmidt.
Saronsberg has been very low-key in the past ten years in terms of its media coverage, and only recently commenced with a PR campaign via Waterford Communications. Its Shiraz has been regarded as one of this country’s best, and has won a 5 star Platter rating for its 2010 and 2011 vintages. Other awards which the Shiraz has won include double gold at the Veritas Awards, Gold at Michelangelo International Wine Awards, Gold at Syrah du Monde, the Red Wine Trophy at the Winemakers’ Choice awards, Gold and trophies at the Decanter Asia awards, and the South African Shiraz Trophy at the International Wine Challenge. Winemaker Dewaldt Heyns has been building the Saronsberg wine brand since owner Nick van Huyssteen bought the farm in Tulbagh in 2012, the year in which he joined Saronsberg. Half of the farm is planted with Shiraz, due to the good quality red wines made in the region. Dewaldt’s expertise in making the Saronsberg wines led to him being invited to become a member of the Cape Winemakers’ Guild, an association of top winemakers for which membership is by invitation only. Just a few days ago wine writer Tim James included Dewaldt in a list of 12 top winemakers of our country! Continue reading →
Slowly a number of changes are being introduced to the publishing and marketing of ‘Platter’s South African Wines’ since JP Rossouw took over as Publisher of the wine guide about six months ago. Not all the changes may be to the liking of the wine estates, users, and advertisers of the Guide.
For the first time Platter’s has advertised! Yesterday I saw an advertisement for Platter’s in the Sunday Times Food Weekly supplement, advertising the Guide, with its newish parent Diners Club benefiting from it too. The advertisement bears the headline ‘Platter’s Wine Guide discovers the perfect pairing’, being a self-aggrandizing accolade to the marriage between Platter’s and Diners Club! The copy reads: ‘Platter’s Wine Guide, South Africa’s original and most authoritative guide to who’s who and what’s what in the Winelands, has the perfect partner in Diners Club, the world’s original and most prestigious charge card. Platter’s has always been the go-to-guide to discovering, rating, pairing and sharing South African wines. Now there’s a quick and easy way to also enjoy Platter’s on your mobile device or desktop. Filled with the latest wine news, festival alerts, hot picks and competitions, Platter’s has become an even more valuable guide. Whether you are shopping for wine, wanting to learn more, or need help planning a trip to cellars, Platter’s will enhance your journey. No App required. Simply go to www.wineonaplatter.com to subscribe’. The pay-off line is corny and meaningless: ‘When your thirst for knowledge coincides with the means to enjoy it, you BELONG‘! One would hope that Rossouw was not the copywriter of this nonsensical ad, given his past copywriting career! More likely is that the advertisement comes from the Marketing department of Diners Club, the give-away being that it contains the Facebook page address and Twitter handle of Diners Club, but not of Platter’s, a bizarre omission! Continue reading →
Earlier this week Christian Eedes presented the results of his third annual Christian Eedes Cabernet Sauvignon Report, sponsored by Sanlam Private Investments, at a lunch-time function held at Burrata. A number of the Top 10 winemakers have collected Top 10 awards in the past three years, reflecting the consistency of the results for South Africa’s second largest varietal. Eight of the Top 10 Cabernet Sauvignon winners are from Stellenbosch this year.
Eedes explained that sixty Cabernet Sauvignon producers were invited, on the basis of their performance in Platter’s, at Veritas, and other wine awards, to submit their wines for evaluation for his Top 10 Cabernet Sauvignon Report. Roland Peens and James Pietersen, both from Wine Cellar (James was formerly with Belthazar) were his fellow judges, as has been the case in the first two years. The standard is higher every year, Eedes said, making it more difficult to judge than before. He thanked Social Media writers for assisting him in spreading the results of his Reports. Continue reading →
The wine industry is surprised about the repeated missives i.e. missiles from Neil Pendock, the blogging bully attacking Pieter de Waal, Secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (SBIG), sponsor FNB, Christian Eedes as chairman of the judging panel, and the Sauvignon Blanc producers generically. Most readers of Pendock’s raving ramblings have no idea what his fight is all about. There is no better book title to describe this mess than the one penned by Pendock himself, appropriately entitled ‘Sour Grapes‘!
The Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, with the material muscle of its sponsor FNB, is not allowing polemic Pendock to get away with his defamation, denigration, and disparagement, and has taken action Continue reading →
On Tuesday last week a gathering of wine writers was spoilt with an invitation to taste the portfolio of seven Graham Beck Wines MCCs at The Westin Cape Town, followed by a sparkling lunch in the hotel’s Executive Club, pairing the MCCs and delectable dishes prepared by Chef Johann Breedt and his team.
Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira is synonymous with Graham Beck’s MCCs, having started with the company at its inception 24 years ago. He quickly earned the nickname ‘Bubbles‘, given to him by wine writer Melvyn Minnaar, and now wears the ‘branded’ shirt with his name on it! He truly is a bubbly character, and the passion for his seven MCCs comes to the fore when he speaks about them. The pay-off line for the MCC range has been ‘In Pursuit of the Perfect Bubble’, and is printed on the marketing collateral, representing Pieter’s quest to make the ultimate MCC. The brand has received outstanding international publicity as being the preferred sparkling wine of royals (served at the wedding of Swedish Princess Madeleine) and politicians such as the Obamas, who drank it on the eve of the President’s inauguration, and with President Zuma when the Obamas visited Pretoria ten days ago. In June Michelle Obama was spoilt with the bubbly, being on the menu for her lunch with Bono in his home town of Dalkey in Ireland. It was served at the inauguration of former President Nelson Mandela too. Prince Harry toasted his Sentebale Trust with Graham Beck earlier this year. Given the publicity, which was achieved without paying a cent for it, and the brand being the preference of such sterling customers, the pay-off line used now for the MCCs is ‘Graham Beck: The Crown of Celebration’. A crown has been added to the Graham Beck logo for the MCC range, looking as if it has always been there. Continue reading →