Navel-Gazing Narcissists

Has Absa AgriBusiness an out-of-date media list or is the Cape winepress a bunch of navel-gazing narcissists? How else do you explain the complexion of Absa’s media tour of the Winelands on Thursday and Friday? Two dozen upcountry media (including Business Day, Die Burger, Financial Mail, Finweek, KykNet, Landbouweekblad, Rapport, Sake24, Sunday Times) from Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein and only four hacks from the Western Cape.

There was even the CEO of Potato SA from Pretoria with a business card in the shape of a spud (“call me Mr. Chips”) dishing out excellent potato-brown Potato SA bush caps that will be this season’s sartorial statements in clubs and at raves. Did Afrikaans put the Cape critics off? Had they heard it all before? Not likely as there were quite a few bombshells dropped with Beyers Truter’s Pinotage Experience a red flag and rumours of a rejuvenated Stellenbosch Road Show a threat to the burgeoning wine show industry. Here are ten sound bites from Charles Back – for other bunker-busters, Cape media should consult upcountry publications.

cb1 Navel Gazing Narcissists

Charles Back gave a tour-de-force presentation in between a sales trip to the USA and holiday at Onrus. Some sound bites:

1. We had a meeting to consider competitions. We decided that the Absa Top Ten Pinotage Competition was the most worthwhile. So we’ll focus on that one and ignore most of the others.
2. I don’t want to go down in history as the goat man.
3. Am I a member of USAPA? What is USAPA? Our problem is we bring politics into everything and talk too much. You need to pound the pavements to spread the gospel.
4. We have an export body. What’s it called? Why do we need another WOSA? Answer from a leading Stellenbosch producer: the problem with WOSA is that they spend 70% of their budget on themselves.
5. SA is selling wine too cheaply in the USA. There is a lot of consignment stock. The pipeline is flooded, so sales are down.
6. SA wine is too expensive in the USA. I’m trying to sell Goats do Roam at $9.99 against Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile at $6.99 a bottle.
7. On his Spice Route 06 Pinotage: this is made in the famous chocolate style from ripe grapes with American oak that gives much more vanilla than French. It’s too in your face for me but it’s a popular style in the USA. To get it really right you need to increase to 4g/l residual sugar.
8. The best Pinotage terroir? Swartland with its soft tannins and Stellenbosch/Paarl for fruit-driven expressions.
9. There’s a financial tsunami on its way. There will be financial devastation for 9-10 months.
10. I make socioganic wines. I want everyone involved. We’re chopping up our 14m long tasting room bar counter into several pods, each of 8m circumference, that will be “owned” by our workers who will “pay” us for the tasting samples they pour for visitors.

Conflict of interest declaration: NP has been asked to judge the 2009 Absa Top Ten Pinotage Competition.