Michelangelo Cork Surprise

Neil Pendock August 18, 2013 12

Bumped into Liam Campbell at La Mouette in Sea Point this lunch time. Liam was one of 16 judges at the annual Michelangelo International Wine Competition which went down at Romond in Stellenbosch last week in torrential rain. It was eye-opening to compare his experience with the much hyped Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show earlier this year. Michelangelo seems to be pulling away from Toasty with 1400 entries – 40% more than Toasty – plus 28 brandies.

All eyes now on Veritas numbers for wine show dominance. Wine shows are particularly important for SA consumers who have lost confidence in the Platter wine guide which assesses entries sighted. The guide is now owned by Diners Club with a Diners director a major wine brand owner, which compounds the problem. The situation is so fraught, some producers are even talking about moving their corporate bank accounts away from Diners owner Standard Bank.

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While cork failure was a major feature of the Old Mutual tourney with 2/3 of whites reporting a cork problem, Liam’s panel of three international judges (Christine Rudman is the only SA taster allowed to pass an opinion at the show) only called for two fresh bottles over five days of tasting. Liam spent the first two days on Chardonnay, tasting around 120 wines which should have necessitated 80 repours according to Old Mutual statistics.

Could it be that Liam and the other 15 panellists are insensitive to cork taint? Could the Toasty judges have confused terroir with taint or vice versa with the Michelangelo mouths – easy to do for foreign experts with limited exposure to SA wine? Could it be that SA producers give their faulty bottles to Old Mutual? Or could this be a vintage thing and cork suppliers gave untainted corks to vintage 2013 which was not much in evidence at the Toasty Show? Whatever the explanation, I bet Old Mutual are wishing they’d sponsored Michaelangelo. Old Michelangelo has a nice ring to it.

Clearly the message for producers is screw caps for the Toasty Show (if you must) and cork for Michelangelo. Meanwhile the presence of auditors at Michelangelo has gone a long way to clearing up charges of manipulation which bedevilled past editions of the competition with foreign judges complaining bitterly about rigging of results and scams galore. The only disappointment was the 28 brandies submitted when over 50 were expected. Although quite why a brandy producer would enter a competition when the vintage of distillation is not mentioned on the label, is moot. Surely once you get a gold, you never need to enter a competition again as you can keep using the same bottle sticker?

12 Comments »

  1. Michael Fridjhon August 19, 2013 at 9:16 am -

    No doubt Neil Pendock’s affection for Portugal has blinded him to the problems associated with corks as a closure. However, this doesn’t account for his failure to do his research a little better. If he had read the transcript of the feedback session instead of relying on tweets for his information he would have known that “two thirds of the cork-closed white wines at the trophy judging suffered from cork problems.” That’s vastly different from two thirds of all white wines. Incidentally the Old Mutual trophy Wine Show is not seeking ever more entries – in some kind of battle for show dominance, as Pendock suggests. We need to keep the number of entries manageable if we’re to do a reliable judging job. One advantage of the Old Mutual sponsorship is that we don’t have to chase revenue by driving up the number of submissions

  2. Michael Fridjhon August 19, 2013 at 9:16 am -

    No doubt Neil Pendock’s affection for Portugal has blinded him to the problems associated with corks as a closure. However, this doesn’t account for his failure to do his research a little better. If he had read the transcript of the feedback session instead of relying on tweets for his information he would have known that “two thirds of the cork-closed white wines at the trophy judging suffered from cork problems.” That’s vastly different from two thirds of all white wines. Incidentally the Old Mutual trophy Wine Show is not seeking ever more entries – in some kind of battle for show dominance, as Pendock suggests. We need to keep the number of entries manageable if we’re to do a reliable judging job. One advantage of the Old Mutual sponsorship is that we don’t have to chase revenue by driving up the number of submissions

  3. Michael Fridjhon August 19, 2013 at 9:34 am -

    For further information, please refer to this article: http://winewizard.co.za/article/cork-closures-in-the-firing-line/

  4. Michael Fridjhon August 19, 2013 at 9:34 am -

    For further information, please refer to this article: http://winewizard.co.za/article/cork-closures-in-the-firing-line/

  5. Neil Pendock August 19, 2013 at 9:37 am -

    The 2/3 corked whites was widely published and not only on Twitter.

    This from Willem Swanepoel on winetoursstellenbosch:

    “On a contrevesial note, cork taint spoilt a startlingly high number of wines in the show with 13% of the top wines put forward for judging which included 66% ( Yes that is correct ! ) of the cork closed white wines. In comparison only about 5% of wines in Austalia are still bottled under cork.”

  6. Neil Pendock August 19, 2013 at 9:37 am -

    The 2/3 corked whites was widely published and not only on Twitter.

    This from Willem Swanepoel on winetoursstellenbosch:

    “On a contrevesial note, cork taint spoilt a startlingly high number of wines in the show with 13% of the top wines put forward for judging which included 66% ( Yes that is correct ! ) of the cork closed white wines. In comparison only about 5% of wines in Austalia are still bottled under cork.”

  7. Willem Swanepoel August 19, 2013 at 10:17 am -

    I attended the judges feedback, and nothing was done to refute and contextualise the 2/3 corked wines statement. Just like Brett was an issue a few years ago, the organisers used tca as an issue with which to gain publicity for the Old Mutual Show. This was clearly the case – the Ozzie seemed rehearsed in dishing out newsworthy soundbytes.

  8. Willem Swanepoel August 19, 2013 at 10:17 am -

    I attended the judges feedback, and nothing was done to refute and contextualise the 2/3 corked wines statement. Just like Brett was an issue a few years ago, the organisers used tca as an issue with which to gain publicity for the Old Mutual Show. This was clearly the case – the Ozzie seemed rehearsed in dishing out newsworthy soundbytes.

  9. Charles Bangs August 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm -

    If it is not about show dominance, as Michael Fridjhon suggests, how come he is alway trumping-up the Old Mutual as the country’s premier and strictest wine show? We all know this is actually Veritas.

  10. Charles Bangs August 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm -

    If it is not about show dominance, as Michael Fridjhon suggests, how come he is alway trumping-up the Old Mutual as the country’s premier and strictest wine show? We all know this is actually Veritas.

  11. Michael Fridjhon August 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm -

    There was no need to clarify anything at the feedback session since this was where it was clearly stated that 2/3 of the cork closed white wines at the trophy judging were tainted by closure.

    Anyone who is serious about the truth doesn’t rely on secondary sources, and making more noise won’t do anything to conceal an elementary mistake.

  12. Michael Fridjhon August 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm -

    There was no need to clarify anything at the feedback session since this was where it was clearly stated that 2/3 of the cork closed white wines at the trophy judging were tainted by closure.

    Anyone who is serious about the truth doesn’t rely on secondary sources, and making more noise won’t do anything to conceal an elementary mistake.

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