Emile in Excelis


A galaxy of stars turned out last night for the 50th birthday of wine word smith Emile Joubert, who speaks so fast with his hands, they look like Francis Bacon painted them.

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The birthday dinner was a snoek braai on Kanonkop, the closest SA comes to a Bordeaux first growth. Or should that read the closest the Cape comes to a Bordeaux first growth as members of the Estate Owners Association present noted that brand SA had been so devalued by Wosa, they were planning to label themselves as Wine of Origin, Cape.

In particular, there is a strong feeling against Wieta – the mis-named ethical trading initiative. Hats off to Landbou Weekblad for covering the issues and typical that the whole matter, vital to the future of SA wine, is being loudly ignored by the English language wine press. Probably too busy being paid by PRs to write press releases for producers and to tweet on behalf of wineries in a misguided attempt to buy a social media platform on the cheap. But if paying for tweets leads to a punt in the press, who can blame producers? Lifestyle editors are the Rip van Winkles de nos jours.

With more anti-Wosa smoke in the air than from the braai, it was lucky that Johann Krige, chairman of Wosa and seigneur of Kanonkop, was in Johannesburg or the Checkers Battle of die Berge may have started two weeks early. At least the chairman of judges, Danie de Wet, below with Duimpie Bayly, was present and in high spirits for it was his birthday, too. Veels geluk, Danie!

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It is the end of an era in SA wine as earlier this week, Distell announced that Duimpie would be stepping down as a director. Duimpie was given a director’s La-Z-Boy recliner and unlimited Marie biscuits back in 1973 when he joined the board of SFW. The protege of that giant of SA wine, Ronnie Melck, Emile’s birthday brought together the strands that made the New SA Wine. Ronnie’s widow, Annatjie (below, with Duimpie’s wife Su), is about to celebrate her 8th birthday party for her 80th birthday with pork belly.

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Annatjie told us the moving story of how her bird whistle on an early morning walk saved the life of Sid Vicious, the family’s black dog caught in a poacher’s snare in the Delheim forest. Dogs play an unrecognized role in the life of SA wine. Niel Jobert (below), who passed away on Monday, used Byter to collect bad debts. Luckily Muratie still has Sid to persuade reluctant payers.

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