Charles Banks, who used to manage the money of basketball players in the USA, uses Jerry Maguire-speak to describe the future of SA Chenin and calls it “a game changer.” In fact he calls the whole SA wine game “delicately poised” and remarked over a cornucopia of gourmet pizzas on just how badly the stuff is marketed overseas.
Exhibit A in the on-going fiasco of SA wine marketing is a form from WOSA, the exporters’ foot-in-mouthpiece, in their Cape Wine Newsletter #2 of 10 February to producers asking them to list their “UNFAVOURED MARKETS” – importers they do not want to meet at Cape Wine 2012, the three-day tasting extravaganza that bans the SA public yet wastes R1 million on a party to launch the controversial event. WOSA should ditch their wedding planners for Chas’s pizza man Paul who will give better value at between R50 and R70 a pizza.
Dorp Street incompetence aside, the industry owes a huge debt of gratitude to Andre Shearer from Cape Classics in New York who persuaded Charles and his Terroir Capital to invest in SA vineyards.
TMV in Tulbagh was the first notch on his belt followed by Mulderbosch in the Stellenboschkloof. In the midst of a buyers’ market for SA vinous real estate, this wine commentator wouldn’t be surprised to see more acquisitions for Chas has been speaking to the Queen of Steen, Wendy Appelbaum, whose own expansion plans seems to have been derailed by Rael Levitt and his Auction Alliance. For Chas’s assessment of the crown jewels of SA viticulture – old bush vine Chenin Blanc – are some of the cheapest assets around.
“Mulderbosch is all about white wines and we want to promote Chenin. I regard it as a noble variety with a complexity and generosity that will be attractive to the American market. We’ll be bringing a bunch of sommeliers out to South Africa in December to show them our new wines which could only be more different to the old wines of Mulderbosch if we switched to making tea.”
His 2011 Steen op Hout shows the way forward, being fresher and so full of lime flavours you could add a few prawns and call it Tom Yum Goong. A step up from the sweeter and more cloying 2010 that should not be discounted, as it is an inexpensive accompaniment to the bresaola of Giorgio Nava at Carne whose giant T-bone has to be the best piece of meat in Cape Town. The T-bone itself is better matched with the steely and austere 2009 Faithful Hound and any pooches left out on the porch may be generously rewarded with the bone.