Chenin: bad news for cottage industries


R662 250 well spent say I. I am, of course, referring to the WineTech research project “Investigating the correlation between chemical, sensory and consumer preferences of selected South African wines: Implementation of novel software.” Although the title is misleading, as the SA wines considered are all Chenin Blancs. 224 wines from 80 producers in fact. Since most of the wines were donated, the project cost confirms that scientists are paid way more these days than I was in my career in the Ivory Tower. Back then we’d have developed an atom bomb for that amount. Oh, I forgot. We did.

sba Chenin: bad news for cottage industries

The project methodology was to divide the wines into “five groups”: FF (fresh and fruity, although an unfortunate acronym indeed for those with a dirty mind), RRW (rich and ripe wooded), RRU (ditto unwooded) and  sweet NLH. Which to a mathematician, may look like four, but perhaps the thin and weedy wines were so thin and weedy, they don’t deserve a category. A whole lab of chemical tests was then thrown at them and differences detected. Phew.

Next, wine judges and attendees at wine shows were asked to complete a Chenin questionnaire back in 2010. “Johannesburg Wine Show, Gauteng, June 2010 (122 wine consumers, 45 males and 77 females interviewed); (ii) Robertson Wine on the River Festival, Western Cape, October 2010 (152 wine consumers, 71 males and 81 females interviewed).” Which is the Achilles heel of the whole shebang, for its a heck of an assumption to assume that folks that go to the Jo’burg Wine Show or Robertson Wine on the River Festival are representative of the broader SA wine drinking public. Of course, they aren’t. If this was a PhD thesis and I was an external examiner, I’d be sharpening my red pencil.

The results from the 5261 questionnaires was illuminating, even if it did take three years to crunch the numbers, Stellenbosch electrons being particularly slow.

Consumers and specifically the Y generation had significantly higher preferences for the wines
if information about viticultural aspects and vinification techniques regarding the wines is
provided.

No specific preference for one of the FF, RRU and RRW styles was found, indeed, the wines
were equally liked.

The notion that consumers need to be educated regarding wine styles needs reconsideration; it
is more a matter of providing information and exposure to the different products, and monitoring how consumers relate to the cues given.

Duh! Is that all?

Let’s hope Standard Bank and their shareholders don’t read this report or they might wonder why they’re shelling out millions on sponsoring three years of the Chenin Blanc Association’s Top 10 Chenin Blanc Competition.  Sounds like another Standard Bank shareholder funded party for Chenin producers, fat cat “expert” judges, associated PR machines and Standard Bank managers. The bank would be much better off paying pourers R80/hr to offer a glass of Chenin at Makro, Tops @ Spar and Checkers on a Saturday morning.

For this is the main conclusion of a four year study that producers and SA taxpayers paid big bucks to arrive at. Surely even Standard Bank has to take note of scientific findings? Or is it just another Standard scam? Wake up Chenin producers. You’re being ripped off.