Thrown in at the deep end

Incoming WOSA CEO Siobhán Thompson was thrown in at the deep end of Veritas, the annual Oscars of SA Wine, last night as SA National Wine Show board members reacted with anger and incredulity when they found out the Cape was full of foreign sommeliers at a loose end. About to start a week-long freebee in the winelands, WOSA left these opinion formers to their own devices. They also (with one exception) missed yesterday’s history making CWG Auction where the future of fine wine at the southernmost tip of the continent was rewritten by private buyers with deep pockets.

If the Somms had been at Spier, the auction tally would have blasted through 10 bar rather then the eight and a half which was achieved while at the Cape Town Convention Centre, the sommeliers missed out on Jeanri-Tine van Zyl’s dress (double gold in the fashion category) and a chance to have the wax blasted out of their ears by Kurt Darren. Kaptein span die seile must be the anthem of SA wine.

IMG 1137 168x300 Thrown in at the deep end

Meanwhile the explosion of SA wine exports to Italy – up from 255,390 litres to over 21 million litres – was explained by an off-the-record conversation with a deep throat. It’s all off to Sweden. SA sales to the land of Volvo and Ikea have collapsed while Italian exports to the homeland of Absolut Vodka go into orbit. Confirming the lunacy of outgoing WOSA CEO Su Birch and the WOSA board with their support for bulk exports.

It’s starting to look like the whole board needs to be retired like the CEO as their collective failure to appreciate the challenge of bulk exports to Brand SA is a disaster of phylloxera proportions. Incoming Distell CEO Richard Rushton should flex his muscles and bring a broom with him from Columbia.

Wine leaves SA in bulk, is sweetened up into the so-called ripasso-style, bag-in-boxed and shipped to Stockholm with carbon footprints larger than Silvio Berlusconi’s sex drive. Swedish consumers have their wine choices made for them by the controversial monopoly Systembolaget (or System Bolognaise as it should perhaps be better named) who judge wine sighted, taking a leaf from our own discredited Platter wine guide. Italy is flavour of the month in the cold North and SA yet another third world basket case. Oy Veh! as they say in Kosher kringe.

Still this bashful blogger had a wonderful evening (one double gold lamb chop, one tough bronze) hanging with the JC Le Roux marketing team (below) who go a long way to explaining why JC was the top performing bubbly at a recent Fair Lady tasting to compile a list of Christmas stocking fillers. What a pity the life and soul of the annual Stellenbosch road show to Summer Place will be missing as winemakers are sent up to Egoli. Is there no end to the pampering of winemakers at the expense of viticulturalists and marketers? Most of them drink beer, I’m reliably informed. Still without them, we’d all be necking cider and alcopops. Oh sorry, we already do that!

IMG 1138 300x168 Thrown in at the deep end