Thursday at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch, blind tasting 70 wines for the Spar supermarket chain. This was a Spar Fundi tasting with a difference – retailers from each of Spar’s geographical regions participated as the wines were put through their paces.
The scene (above) was reminiscent of a Veritas tasting – but organized by a retailer, rather than producers, which is where wine selection should naturally take place. The end result was 14 wines selected with highest average score which will be rolled out onto the Fundi Facings (below) in shops, countrywide.
Over dinner in the rain at Terroir, I argued for a parallel selection of best value wines – those that are the least expensive for the same score. The argument was put into perspective when five wines, which scored the same, had to be re-tasted and three selected to make up the 14. Common sense would say a re-taste is unnecessary. As the wines were all rated the same, simply choose the three with lowest price. This is, after all, the way shoppers make decisions.
While arguments are forcefully made, the beauty of the Spar system is they happen within a collegial system – they are disagreements within a family – which is the ultimate strength of the brand. It is a system which makes Spar well suited to African retailing, as Africa is where families first started and remains the continent where extended families provide the social structure.