Fred Phaswana, Big Brother of SA wine


The latest edition of Classic Wine magazine, the visual manifestation of the aural organ Classic FM of dashing Dominic Ntsele, features a whole raft of pages sponsored by Standard Bank. Alcoholized advertorial: if you have to have it, the very best kind. The stun grenade from Standard comes as grist for the conspiracy theory mill that insists that the bank is seeking to monopolize reportage on food and wine in SA. For Standard already controls the Platter sighted wine guide and Rossouws Restaurants through their Diners Club subsidiary. Is Standard CEO Fred Phaswana (below) trying to become the Big Brother of SA wine? Banksters have about as much credibility as astrologers and those fey Icelandic maidens campaigning against the building of roads on their icy island that destroy fairy temples. Can SA wine cope with investment from banksters?

A question for legal eagles and shareholder activist Theo Botha: would the Competition Board entertain an objection to stall this attempted hijack? The banking ombudsman can start by investigating how the sizzling Platter was acquired by a Diners director Reg Lascaris with substantial wine interests of his own. Whistle blower Edward Snowden was not joking when he warned that the powers that be are threatening the lifestyles of ordinary citizens. It starts with food and wine as the ANC Youth League demonstrates.

fred Fred Phaswana, Big Brother of SA wine

Hiring the trashiest tourist trumpet in Cape Town to review restaurants in Classic confirms the blogosphere is a takeover target, too. Urban legend insists the author of these rubbish reviews has never eaten at Hartford House, the Saxon and Mosaic – the very crime for which JP Rossouw was pilloried. Does Gauteng and KZN have no restaurant reviewers that enforces a de facto western Cape monopoly? No wonder the Eat Out national restaurant awards look like something from the neighbour goods market at the Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Jackie Cameron, David Higgs, Chantel Dartnall, is the PR pot boiling over?

The monopolistic strategies deployed by bankers ensures that George Orwell’s 1984 has finally arrived in SA, thirty years late. Par for the course for Cape Town.

But the good news is that the magazine has at last appeared in the shops. Although so many stories went unpublished in the almost year long hiatus, at least some trees were saved. Like the profile I wrote on Fons Aaldering after a terrific meal with Fons and wife Marianne at the Michelin 3-star restaurant Librije in Zwolle, the Netherlands, last year. I shall post that on this site at a later date unless I get a better offer from Capitec.

Fons makes wine in Devon Valley and after tasting the latest 2013 releases – a thrillingly tropical Sauvignon Blanc and a spicy Pinotage Rosé – I’m more convinced than ever that Devon Valley is much more than a home for Hobbits. And fascinating how the Stellenbosch municipality makes the mountains the town is world famous for from giant piles of rubbish. Like unsold wine magazines. The book of Genesis needs to be updated.

Fons is not the only Devon Valley stunnaPlace in the Sun unwooded Chardonnay 2013 from Cape Legends is another tooty-fruity triumph. It’s electric pear juice. Tom Wolfe should write the tasting notes in his white suit. At under R40 a bottle and Fairtrade too, the balanced acids supply an antidote to the FNB Top Ten style of overly acidic Sauvignon Blancs that has put the varietal onto life support in the wine hospital, as consumers reject the style in their droves.

Has the Sauvignon fiasco done for FNB wine sponsorships? With wine loving FNB ex CEO marvellous Michael Jordaan shuffled off to sort out Mxit by Ellerman House wine gallerist Paul Harris, his successor obviously wants some open water between his own paddling and the waves caused by his predecessor. It’s a banking replay of Chinese icebreaker MV Xue Long (Snow Dragon) breaking off attempts to save the Russian Antarctic holiday cruise ship (sorry, serious scientific research vessel) Academic Shokalskiy, stuck in pack ice at the minute (thank heavens for Global Warming).

vg 615x487 Fred Phaswana, Big Brother of SA wine

This unwooded Chardonnay is way too cool to be referred to by its acronym THE PITS and Cape Legends CEO Naas Erasmus should rename the range Loose Shoes, tout suite. For this is what these wines are: comfortable fashion accessories for comfort foods.