SBIG: a cuckoo in the nest of SA wine


The generosity of Piet Viljoen knows no bounds. Yesterday he gave me another Brett Murray (below) that I’m having framed for the chairman of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group who is a well known art lover. At the opening of the Pinotage: Naughty Boy of SA wine exhibition in my Gallery last month, he wanted to buy the Simon Stone on the wall. Bugger the wine!

IMG 1206 615x345 SBIG: a cuckoo in the nest of SA wine

I’d always thought the raison d’etre for SBIG was to boost the cultivar in SA. How mistaken I was! When asked to judge a major international Sauvignon Blanc competition last year, I contacted the secretary of the SBIG:

“have been approached to judge sb for the concours mondial du sauvignon in march. does sbig have an address list i can safely pass on to the organizers to invite folks to enter or should i rather make my own (don’t want to be accused of favouritism). having been judging the big concours mondial for 6 years and think its one of the best of the international competitions” and put him in touch with them.

Alarm bells should have started ringing when the secretary opened communications with a classic cuckoo manoeuvre:

“Thanks so much for your e-mail and we are very excited that you have a South African taster of the calibre of Mr Pendock on the panel for Concours Mondial du Sauvignon.

I have an up to date database of most of the South African Sauvignon Blanc producers, and if you send me information regarding your competition I will distribute it to our whole list.

I wish you well with your competition, and am quite envious of Mr Pendock who will be able to attend the competition and taste & judge the wines – maybe one day I will also be able to participate in the competition as I am very passionate about Sauvignon Blanc as a grape variety and have, for the last eight years, been the secretary of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group of South Africa (SBIG). Our mission is to grow the understanding of the grape variety, while assisting winemakers in making uniquely South African Sauvignon Blanc of world-class quality.

SBIG is also responsible for organising the annual Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Competition and we are very involved with Veritas, South Africa’s largest wine competition where Sauvignon Blanc entries exceed 200 per year (the largest category at the Veritas competition that attracts close on 2 000 entries).

Please send me whatever information you would like me to distribute to our database.”

Guess what happened next! This year the secretary and FNB Top Ten tasting chair Christian Eedes went to France to judge the wines and yours truly was assigned to Siberia, a farm on which Gyles Webb makes excellent Sauvignon Blanc outside Hermanus.

If I was Stephan Claassen, FNB Provincial Head in the Western Cape who bankrolls SBIG, I would think twice before saying “FNB is proud to be the title sponsor of a contest which continues to elevate the position of South African wines while showcasing the depth of talent in our wine-making industry.” Did FNB pay for the SBIG secretary to usurp my gig? Must say, as a long standing FNB account holder, I am bitterly disappointed.