Camissa by the Bay

That Table Bay F&B manager Joop Schoof makes 35,000 bottles of his own wine each year with Rikus Neethling of Bizoe fame, speaks volumes about tourist perceptions of mid-range SA wine in the style, price and branding department.  When it comes to style, Joop crafts a multi-appellation fresh and fruity white blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chenin Blanc with a screw cap.  The red blends of Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz also have fruit-forward approachability.

He’s been doing it for three years, so clearly it works.  Platter ratings clearly don’t apply here nor do any SA brands have any traction and the style is what customers want.  He’s got his own version of Pieter Ferreira’s award-winning Blanc de Blanc maturing in bottle, a touch drier than the Graham Beck incarnation.  A more sophisticated audience, perhaps?

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But how bizarre to stand 50m away from the private yacht of a Saudi Prince (above) who fishes for 100Kg tuna with submarines and helicopters and talk to Joop about downsizing his substantial cellar.  “I have thousands of bottles of expensive SA wine” he laughs “if anyone is interested.”  His new price points are inexpensive: under R150; midrange up to R180 and expensive, over R200.  This in a five star hotel, where people convert from dollars, euros and increasingly renmimbi.

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Camissa is a French-style brasserie which opens next month opposite the Prince’s yacht.  It will list 80 wines, with 40 available by the glass.  Including the wonderful Ondine Cabernet Franc 2009 at around R100.  This is the new face of expensive wine in SA and those planning lots for the annual Cape Winemakers Auction are well advised to take note.   For if luxury hotels baulk at paying big bucks for SA wine, consumers won’t be too far behind.