The news that Nederburg has made two special Masterchef wines for Woolies: an 90:10 red blend of Grenache and Carignan and a 60:40 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from the 2010 and 2011 vintages respectively, brings together two of the nicest guys in SA wine: Nederburg cellarmaster Razvan Macici and Woolies wine consultant Allan Mullins. Why did Nederburg do it? Getting four listings on Woolies facings for their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot might have had something to do with it.
Woolies only started carrying branded wines fairly recently. Before that, it was totally Allan’s market. A market he owns as the Woolies version of a wine would often win five stars in the annual Platter sighted wine competition while the estate’s attempt would languish in the four’s and three’s. Prompting the predicted howls of winemaker outrage “but it’s the same wine!” Barrel/tank selection, more likely.
Woolies’ experiment with listing wine brands has not been a roaring success, according to insiders. The only brand to get real traction is Marc Kent’s explosive Chocolate Block, which sells ten times the volume of the also rans. Iona has built up a faithful following, as has Eagle’s Nest after it was revealed that Dear Angela, the Platter pundit responsible for modest initial ratings, enjoyed it with a home meal Woolies lasagne on the feed your family for R100 special, since raised to R150.
Eyebrows will surely be raised at the blending of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, especially as the Sauvignon component is rumoured to be the special one used in Nederburg Ingenuity White which sells for three times the Masterchef price. But in this Nederburg is a victim of its own success, with a serious shortage of white reported at the Paarl cellar. Of course there remains a serious shortage of black after Tariro Masayiti moved down the road to KWV, late last year.