While Bill Foley (below) may not have single-handedly crashed the global economy, as a US mortgage mogul, he’s certainly in the thick of the sub-prime scandal. So to read his comments on SA as a wine investment play in the Wall Street Journal on Friday “unstable government and bad wine” with the inane comment from interviewer Lettie Teague “bad news for that country’s 300-plus wineries” was as rich as a whole barrel of Nederburg Edelkeur.
Charles Banks, another US wine investor, calls Bill a “good guy but obviously misinformed on both fronts. Easy to see why if you read the papers in the States.” Exhibit A being Sunday’s New York Times “Upheaval Grips South Africa as Hopes for Its Workers Fade.” The apocalyptic tone confirming the dramatic fall from grace of the ANC in the USA. No coincidence that there is an American presidential election next month.
Mike Veseth, a wine economist from Seattle who was in SA last month to open the Nederburg Auction, comments “regarding unstable governments, I can’t really comment except to say that half the governments in the world today seem to be either unstable or gridlocked and I’m not sure which is worse. We Americans are not necessarily in a position to throw stones.”
Chas takes a sensible and pragmatic position: “one needs to spend some time in SA to see and taste the reality. The rise in quality in only the last 3-5 years is dramatic, so easy to see how he could miss this. He will figure it out. I’ll send him some Fable!” referring to the fabulous “critter wines” he makes out in Tulbagh.
An opinion confirmed by Mike: “the wines I tasted in South Africa were excellent, more than on a par with those from the countries where Bill has invested.” But then perhaps Bill has his eye on an SA investment and his comment is simply to talk down the price. After all, the WSJ story is all about Bill’s bacchanalian business bargains and not about wine at all.