Position Vacant: wanted – a “go to” person for SA wine

It felt like old times in Singapore last night as I dined at the Taj with my homies from the island state that is the gateway to Asia. Poh Tiong, founder of The Wine Review, shared a couple of insights for SA wine producers. Like how the most influential opinions in Chinese wine could be all accommodated in a Combi with room for a cooler box, picnic basket, Weber braai and Duimpie Bayly, legendary head of the SA wine demarcation committee.

IMG 0881 300x168 Position Vacant: wanted   a “go to” person for SA wine

Poh Tiong reflected that what SA wine needs is a “go to” person to phone for reliable information when researching a story, planning a tasting trip or seeking to import obscure wines. UK wino Tim Atkin tried out for the position with his attempt at classifying SA wine into growths à la Bordeaux earlier this year but failed miserably while the trickle of bloggers and golfers imported by WOSA do not impress. Guido Francque from Belgium and Aníbal Coutinho from Portugal are far better bets and more knowledgeable, too.

WOSA have still not managed to find a new CEO with the shortlist now whittled down to three candidates. Let’s hope the tardy process will not keep the incumbent hanging around like a ghost for an extended handover period, as the page really does need to be turned on a disastrous chapter in SA wine marketing.

The wines served at dinner really impressed with a Lomond 2008 Pincushion Sauvignon Blanc on offer at this week’s Nederburg Auction top of my pops. Poh Tiong enquired about the wooding regime and was amazed that such depth and complexity could be achieved by extended lees contact and bottle age. Older SA Sauvignon Blancs are true secrets of the SA cellar and should be snapped up on sight.

Likewise a Neethlingshof Lord Neethling Pinotage 2001 confirmed that Pinotage, with ten years and more bottle age, often become fine yet still fresh and fruity mature wines. This one worked exceedingly well with the braised ostrich neck and Gruyere bruschetta. Another eye-opener was the Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Viognier 2008 that Poh Tiong recommended a bottle be sent to John Livingstone-Learmonth, his “go to” person for the Rhône.

The message of the evening was that to crack the Asian market, SA needs to focus and the wasteful shot-gun approach followed in the past needs to be refined.