Sommeliers come of age


Why did Tsogo Sun sommelier Miguel Chan and his sommelier brothers pay R2233.00 for a bottle of Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2013 on the CWG Auction at Spier yesterday when the normal version is available on the Kop’s website for R490.00? Of course Tsogo would pay trade for that, so their cost will be well under R400 but the group were top buyers at the auction, dropping 3.7 bar.

Are the wines that different? Perhaps the razor sharp buds of a bald eagle could detect a difference (if you showed him a label), but to your passing gravy train passenger or TV schleb, the only real difference is the three letters CWG.

IMG 6826 615x461 Sommeliers come of age

I asked Saxon sommelier Lloyd Jala why he and his coreligionists pay over the odds for CWG wines and he said he has many a high roller rolling in (think Ryan Seacrest) and asking for the best. A high score from the likes of a Bald Eagle, Wine LizardTM or Tiny Tim Akin won’t cut it as everyone knows they’re in the business of making money from recommendations – the used car salesmen of wine. A gold (or is it bronze?) medal from the Toasty Show won’t wash either as every bottle has more medals than Idi Amin Dada.

Those canny Bordealais knew the secret when they classified their brands back in 1855. They did it on the basis of price. Which is what the CWG is busy doing. Forget about Atkin’s risible classification of wines into first and second growths and cru bourgeoise. The classification is done every year by Henré Hablutzel of Hofmeyr Mills Auctioneers.

The other takeaway from the auction is that the lots are being bid on by sommeliers: Miguel, Lloyd, Greg Mutambe for 12 Apostles and so on and so forth.

Lloyd is Eat Out’s sommelier of the year. Based at the Saxon, he is wine director for Douw Steyn’s ever expanding empire. As sommelier of the season, you’d think WOSA would have jumped all over him to be a judge at last month’s International Sommelier Cup. What is wrong with WOSA? Lloyd only heard about the competition after it was over. Is this incompetence or something altogether more sinister that sees Lloyd and his colleagues frozen out from events paid for by the industry.

Heck if they’d delayed the cup final by a week, all those foreign sommeliers flown into SA at great expense could have attended the CWG Auction at Spier. If they’d come a week earlier, they could have livened up the Nederburg Auction. After all the Auction manager used to work for WOSA.

Who knows, the somms may have even bought some wines for their establishments. Isn’t this the very reason for WOSA’s existence, selling SA wine overseas? Any CWG members of WOSA should object loudly to those dozing divas in Dorp Street. I’m sure Distell CEO Richard Rushton has already sent them a rocket.