Sour grapes threaten to spoil Mandela wine

OVER the years South African icon Nelson Mandela has inspired a clothing line, pricey artworks and countless cheap souvenirs, all of which have fuelled debate over the use of his image.

Now wine lovers can toast his name with the “House of Mandela” range launched by relatives, a product that has raised fresh questions about the use and abuse of the statesman’s legacy.

The label’s founders are adamant that the venture does not exploit him, however.

“This is not about Nelson Mandela, this is about the House of Mandela,” says 59-year-old Makaziwe Mandela, his oldest living child, who started the label with her daughter, Tukwini.

“The driving force for us is not only to get into the wine as a commercial entity. This is about honouring all those who have gone before us.”

Marketed in the US earlier this year, the label was started in 2010 with various winemakers selected in the country’s famed Cape vineyards. The range’s premier collection consists of two reds and one white dubbed the “Royal Reserve”: a 2007 Syrah, a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2009 Chardonnay. The two top-drawer reds sell for a hefty R399.

“The concept is very good, but I am not sure that the wines are that good, for such a price. That’s the reality. They are too expensive,” says a wine seller.