Have you no shame, Hermit on the Pill?


The back label of The Infidel, a 2012 Stellenbosch Sauvignon from our old friend Hermit on the Pill, erstwhile secretary of SBIG, the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, sets a new benchmark in SA wine ethics. For starters, the name will tweak the nostril hairs of Many a Mad Mullah in Mthatha for Madiba’s Memorial.

But the real problem for other Sauvignon producers will be the glowing recommendation from Jade Goodie (sic), a UK receiver of expensive and expansive largesse from SA producers including SBIG, on the back label (below). No surprise to see Jade call this “a brilliant SA Sauvignon” (presumably as opposed to a stunning Sancerre or brilliant Bordeaux) – what else would he call the crumbs from the Hermit’s table if the Hermit’s patsies, SBIG, are picking up the bill?

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But the kersie op die koek is the John Lennon-style plea “we hope you will join us in our crusade for honesty and elegance in winemaking.” One for the Advertising Standards Authority, surely? And will the SBIG now admit they were taken for a long ride to nowhere by the Hermit who gives everyone the Pill?

One of my many complaints about Herm is how a naive consumer might think he was trying to suborn the Sauvignon judging process by hiring Christian Eedes, his Platter sighted evaluator, to chair the annual FNB Sauvignon Top Ten that seemed to push a most peculiar and hard to swallow agenda. Espeically after his own wine was nominated (sighted, natch) for five stars. Some commentators aver that this little cottage industry set the varietal back a decade and breathed new life into competitor Chenin Blanc. Perhaps Herm was a Chenin plant!

Xtian featured in the Bidet column of Wine Lizard on Friday where he is described as “past editor of Wine Magazine, graduate of the Wine Judging Academy, senior judge at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and contributor to the Platter Guide.” Well a cynic might say that judging your employer’s wines sighted may makes assessment easy, but what’s all this faux academic nonsense about being a graduate? Xtian is worth much more than this. Is Lizzie referring to a weekend spent tasting wine which has been miraculously pumped up into “the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business Wine Judging Academy” which Lizzie runs. A nice little earner, no doubt.

Quite how Mr. Fridjhon ever ended up as a Professor at UCT in a discipline in which he has no formal qualification is something for the UCT Senate and puppet master Max Price to explain. How can Lizzie dish out tasting qualifications when he lacks them himself is also quite an academic achievement, but hey we’re not talking Ivy League here.

Lizzie also owns the Old Mutual Toasty Show (in Lizardese, that translates to “I am chairman”) so Xtian’s very existence is through blessings conferred by a direct descendants of the dinosaurs. Yet Xtian’s most convincing “qualification”, about which Lizzie is as dumb as a Mandela sign-language specialist, is his membership of the Tops @ Spar Fundi tasting panel which sees his visage smiling benignly down on shoppers above rows of toilet rolls and necklaces of garlic which succeeded in warding off at least one vampire.

Lizzie’s latest column is a doozy, starting off: “there is no shortage of competitions aiming to deliver a short list of what wine drinkers in South Africa should be buying. In fairness, as long as the numbers of producers and labels proliferate, there is an element of public service to the endeavour.” Plus a nice profit to be made when you try to flog the wines you judge. Which he tries to do on the Wine Lizard site he punts lavishly in Business Day. Let’s hope the AVUSA marketing department wake up soon, as there may be cash to be made if Lizzie lands any suckers.

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For producers, however, it is a different story. And for Cape Legends in particular, a potential embarrassment too, when one of the scaly specials is a Fairtrade wine called Earthbound. For what is fair about flogging wine you rate on your site at double the price its available from Tops @ Spar?

Well to be fair, Lizzie’s price is R595 for six wines, not all Earthbound. But still, it sounds more like foultrade to me or fowltrade if drunk with Nando’s Chicken. Do Ivo Vegter and die manne at the Daily Maverick realize that their Wine Club has some severe ethical problems? It’s not even original as Lizzie tried to flog this one to the Sunday Times many moons ago and it crashed and burned.

So sorry to have missed the Cape Legends picnic on Friday which features this year’s best hack pap from John Ford (above). Called “a beautifully matched pair” (or that may have been the next photo on the newsletter) it features Mrs. SA Wine Education (WSETCathy Marston and Mrs. Ford.