Franschhoek, once the most media-savvy appellation in SA, has shot itself in the foot like the elephants they used to cull with cannon borrowed from the castle, back in the salad days when the place was called Olifantshoek. For F’Hoek has decided the annual Wine Writer’s Prize will not be awarded this year and sponsors Porcupine Ridge, will keep their R25K. Presumably the judges (below), Xhosa translators and PR agencies will still get paid!
A terse e-mail vouchsafes the bombshell: “the judging panel for this year’s Wine Writer’s Prize, along with the organisers of the Franschhoek Literary Festival and their sponsors, have decided that an award will not be presented this year. The judges were in unanimous agreement that no one submission stood out from the others as being an award-winning piece of wine writing.” A great way for F’Hoek to make friends in the media, NOT! The reason supplied stinks worse than some of brettier wines from the valley. There was obviously a meltdown during judging or a safe bet would have been declared the winner.
The competition has been controversial from day one when the winning entry appeared in the same organ in which one of the judges (Jancis Robinson) was a columnist. The second attempt included Tim Atkin as judge shortly after he called “SA domestic wine writers… parochial, barely qualified fans with typewriters” adding “in the absence of a more robust domestic media, SA needs informed criticism from overseas.” Presumably from Mr. Adkin himself, as the press release misspelt him quite appropriately.
So the competition always struggled for credibility, but now F’Hoek have plucked a quill from their sponsor’s prickly hide and jabbed every prick who entered. If tears of mirth weren’t steaming up my Click’s reading glasses here in Lisbon, I’d post my own entry so you can see how crap the submissions were this year.
Of course they’re right about the quality of SA wine writing, but do they know the National Wine Show are setting up their own SA Wine Writers Competition? So not only has F’Hoek given conspiracy theorists enough fuel for the coming winter, they’ve also lost whatever marketing ground they think the competition bought. Will the revenge of SA wine writers be as sweet as the Semillon Noble Late Harvest from Boekenhoutskloof, I wonder?