Do Diners Club, sponsors of the most important wine competition in SA – the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award – make enough of the foreign judge they import to add gravitas to the process? This year’s judge was André Reboul, editor of the annual Guide Vins Vallée du Rhône, shown below having breakfast this morning (salmon and green tea) on the stoep of the Grande Roche.
With Rhône-style blends all the rage in SA, André is the go-to person for secrets of the style and his comments are gold. Some tips:
Syrah is a Diva. In French it is a feminine grape and is best blended with a berry like Mourvèdre or Grenache, both masculine. In fact he calls them “macho” as they’re from Spain.
The best Syrahs come from grapes grown on granite soils.
As a Spar Fundi – member of a six person panel that regularly chooses wines blind for the supermarket chain who are the largest wine retailer in SA – I often argue for a video record of comments we judges make about the wines we taste blind. For how else do winemakers improve? What is Distell getting right that others get so wrong so often?
The reality of Diners is that 87 hopefuls sent their best efforts to the Roche last week but only one will get good news. This is bang-bang control – all or nothing. For 99% of entrants, it’s a waste of time.
Diners, always innovative when it comes to lifestyle projects, should go the whole hog and commission a TV special for KykNet. Sell the six finalists at Spar and let viewers taste along with the judges. Call it D’COW (Diners Club Oscars of Wine) and have viewers SMS their favourite. Imagine that – a general election for Diners Club Winemaker of the Year and producers will love it as they’ll shift plentsch of stock. Soon all elections will be run this way.