SA wine hits iceberg, did captain close his eyes?


The debate about the merits or otherwise of blind versus sighted tastings currently stirring up strings of saliva and crumbs of cracker in the SA wine spittoon reminds of rearranging the deckchairs on RMS Titanic. Or that modern analogy, swapping seats in economy class on flight SAA 280 to Perth, taking another load of wine drinkers into emigration exile to join the “850 000 whites” Rapport reported emigrated between 1995 and 2005 on Sunday. With the floodtide undimmed and ceremonies of innocence drowned on a daily basis, a significant proportion of the traditional wine drinking population is AWOL, replaced by palm wine drinkers from West Africa and vodka sipping mail-order brides from Russia.

sd SA wine hits iceberg, did captain close his eyes?

On the subject of tasting blind versus sighted, Emil den Dulk, proprietor of De Toren (that red blend that time and again is the punter’s pick when they’re asked) notes : “our problem is the inconsistency of the various publication and competition results. It is for this reason De Toren no longer supply wines to be rated by SA media. We also do not enter any local competitions. I can only concur with your interview with Bruwer Raats in this week’s Sunday Times. We have exactly the same experience with our wines. Since inception our Fusion V has been rated 90+ by Wine Spectator and even a 5 Star in Decanter. Somehow I can only conclude that the local tasters do not understand the international taste profiles. Our wines remain on an allocation basis even without local accolades!” Winemaker Alex Dale is even blunter. Local competitions are “bullshit. A complete waste of time.”

The sighted seers on Mount Anorak (aka the Grape website, edited by a trio of Platter’s pundits stirring said spittoon to the old refrain “hubble bubble toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble”) are starting to look like campaign workers for Hilary Clinton as they haul out big gun Melvyn Minnaar, wine writer for Sawubona, the SAA in-flight magazine you read as you drink your last 187 ml bottle of 2002 Sonop Riesling (aka Crouchen Blanc) before touching down in Perth.

Mellie’s argument starts off with the observation that you’d never close your eyes to rate art. The problem is that only a madman would score art out of 20 (or 100) and as Salvador Dalí pointed out, “the only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad.”

The Worcester winemaker who phoned on Monday was mad (in the angry sense) as his Veritas gold medal Chenin 2007 was scored 1½ stars (translation: “casual quaffing”) in Platter’s SA Wines 2008. While I’m clearly not the “locally well-known wine scribe/blogger [who] seems to have made it his hell-bent mission to discredit the annual Platter [sic] wine guide, because the team of tasters doesn’t evaluate the wines blind” I can see his point as the Platter’s pundit who dropped the 1½ star clanger (sighted, of course), also makes (and sells) Chenin Blanc. It’s like having BMW review Audi. Vorsprung durch technik se voet.

Mount Anorak signs off on a parallel between Vergelegen V and Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull called For the love of God: “an art lover paid $100 million for it. Some wine lovers are paying R750 for a bottle of Vergelegen V 2004. Surely they are entitled to some respect being accorded their vinous masterpiece.” And some investors transfer lots of money to the widow of Sani Abacha to participate in her Nigerian Ponzi schemes via e-mail. Should we give them the Nobel Prize for economics?