Mark Bristow: a one-man WOSA


Mark Bristow has a day job running Randgold Resources and persuading African mining ministers of the benefits of co-operation. This guru of non-renewable resources also has a message for renewable resources – like wine. Leading by example, he exports SA wine to his African mines and has established cellars at each one “so the hairy-assed miners have something decent to drink.”

IMG 2173 576x1024 Mark Bristow: a one man WOSA

Mark probably does more to promote wine  than WOSA in sub-Saharan Africa, identified as the premier growth destination at last month’s Vinpro Open Day. WOSA focuses on the easy targets like Europe and their latest tired wheeze is to resurrect the Beautiful South alliance of Argentina, Chile and SA for ProWein2014 and to hire two Brits, a German and a Swede to ventilate about SA wine, South Africans being incapable of talking about their own product. And with a weak rand, too cheap. The cultural cringe is so depressing and so unnecessary.

Mark has the opposite approach. Challenged to a bet by former AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani about whether Kibali mine in the Congo would be ready to pour gold in 2013, Mark B insisted on the prize being a big SA red rather than something from Down Under that Aussie Mark C was offering.

The depth of Mark B’s loyalty becomes clear when you note that his bankers are the Rothschilds and he’s no stranger to Château Lafite and the odd Montrose from the Château owned by the billionaire Bouygues brothers who have extensive interests in construction. No, Mark B insisted on a red from Robertson, a 2013 blend of Cabernet, Shiraz and Mourvèdre. What a vote of confidence for the valley of wine and roses.

Mark has offered to open the first bottle at a dinner he’ll host to celebrate the Geology Society of SA giving him the first Des Pretorius Memorial Award for outstanding work in economic geology in Africa. Two different forms of terroir, vinous and mining, coming together in a bottle of wine made by his motorcycling mate Rob Alexander at his Windfall winery. This is what wine is all about – the story behind the bottle. It’s the sizzle that sells, not the steak.

Plan “A” was to auction the wine for charity and as the logo of Randgold is a rhino, Save the Rhino made sense. Incredibly, the rhino huggers refused to have anything to do with extractive industries. This kind of faux selective morality beggars belief and compounds the rhino tragedy. So the rhino’s loss will be the geologist’s gain. Which is quite fitting, for if the gold price keeps on falling, geos may soon become as endangered as rhinos and will have to hold on to their horns.