Jacopever & Wade


Jacopever & Wade sounds a bit like a boere version of Abercrombie & Fitch which I thought was an upmarket safari company (think Juliet Cullinan goes bos) but is actually a US clothing brand selling casuals to the 18-22 cohort. It was also my lunch at Buitenverwachting yesterday (I do so prefer the US translation of the farm’s hard to pronounce farm name to Beyond) with Wade Bales. The name behind Constantia’s most passionate wine retailer and a great source of inspiration for internet implementations like Getwine, imitation remaining the most sincere form of flattery.

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SASSI recommends Jacopever for special occasions only (it’s an orange list fish don’t you know and sometimes even red list, depending on where its trawled) and lunch with Wade certainly qualifies as he’s had 52 lunches with winemakers over the last while and it doesn’t show at all on his lithe frame (below). But then “mountain biking is the new golf” says the dynamic dynamo who used to wipe the links with Diners Club CEO Ebrahim Matthews, according to my caddy.

He now sails and sales solo, the umbilical cord with the Diners Club Wine Society snipped, to no obvious ill effects on business except for an increase in credibility. Diners will likely feel increasing retailer and producer resistance as the penny drops that their wine activities are controlled by director Reg Lascaris who owns some of the largest wine brands in SA and are often actually competitive.

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Perhaps one day a Standard Bank director will wake up and ask why a credit card company owns a sighted wine guide and a restaurant one for good measure. Sponsorship is one thing, ownership another as you’d expect a banker (at least) to know. Or a shareholder activist like Theo Botha may raise the manner of Diners’ acquisition of the guide at a shareholders meeting, as it made by eyebrows fly off the Richer scale. The Diners Club chairman didn’t even know Reg owns a laundry list of wine brands.

Politics aside, what to drink with a Jacopever? Well a passing winemaker Brad Paton (below) offered a taste of his 2011 Maximus wooded Sauvignon Blanc which Platter calls “seriously oaked” and I call “nicely balanced.”

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But the Sauvignon Blanc of the day for me was called Mike 2013 (sounds like the calling sign of one of those hypersonic nuclear missile platforms currently under development all over the world). Wade is a marketing genius for on the front label, he provides the two pieces of information every consumer needs to know and most wine show judges get wrong: alcohol and residual sugar.

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This wine surprises in both departments with an alcohol of 11.5% and a sugar of 7.3 g/l. Which reaffirms why tasting blind is the only fair way of assessing this wine for as soon as an anorak sees +7 g of sugar, they go into insulin shock and drool out of both sides of their mouths. Yet this wine is a stunna and light enough to order a second bottle for the cheese course and cheap enough too, as Wade retails this nettly nicey at R54 a bottle. The Mike on the label is Mike Dobrovic, a reincarnation of Rumi, an ancient Persian whirling dervish, but with more top spin.

It is made from grapes grown in the smallest appellation in SA (Langeberg) until the Swartland Independent get their Paardeberg ward registered in the face of fierce opposition from the farmers they’ve occupied, incensed that the Independent wants to include only vineyards over 200m elevation. But could the Perdeberg Winery be about to cast a spanner into their works? The Chinese Year of the Horse is after all only two weeks away. It falls the day before the J&B Met, so lets see if any of Cape Town’s marketing marvels even notice.

Meanwhile I hear the Swartland Winery are negotiating to make their wine at Riebeek Cellars, in the first recorded case of the cuckoo chick evicting his parents from the family nest. Oh Franz Kafka, you died to soon! It’s another layer of surreality for the Swartland.