Not Everything Lost in Belgium

Neil Pendock October 22, 2012 4

Did WOSA put all its golden eggs in the Cape Wine balasmandjie? It certainly looks that way as the only SA winemaker seen at Megavino Brussels, the leading Belgian wine show, was big Danie Malan (below, with Christoph Merchiers) from Allesverloren (we lost it all). Today is the last day of the show.

As Danie says “I’m very proud to be the only South African winemaker at Megavino which is as important as Pro Wein or Vin Expo in Bordeaux to me, I’m also disappointed not to see any colleagues winemakers supporting this fair nor the prescence of WOSA at this show although ALL wine producing countries are fighting to get a place in the Belgian gastronomic market.”

When Danie’s forebears named the farm Allesverloren, they must have had crystal balls for if not even WOSA can pitch up for some moules-frites and Kriek (plus a healthy dollar denominated tax-free per diem which makes overseas trips very popular for WOSA grootkoppe) things must be dire indeed for SA wine.

But it is not even necessary to fly all the way to the Land of Tintin to see how plat winery travel budgets have become. RMB WineX, which hits Sandton this week, has one of the smallest exhibitor lists ever. A leading Elgin producer is down as “Oak Valley (not wines)” while KWV, now smaller than Spier in the local market (according to Tim Hutchinson who once tried to buy them), appears three times in a replay of the Miracle of Fatima as KWV Classic Collection, KWV Reserve and KWV The Mentors. Hoe werk dit? as they say in the Classics.


  1. pinto October 22, 2012 at 7:52 am -

    Whether any other expo is as important ProWein or Vinexpo is a matter of debate, but I do know that the Belgian market is a particularly hard nut to crack for any producing country other than France, and probably any region other than Bordeaux so it’s the sensible place to stay away from when budgets are tight. Pity though as they are big spenders on wine, but also notoriously conservative in their taste of wine.

  2. Guy October 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm -

    Seems it’s not only Danie’s forebears who had crystal balls – he claims to be continuing the tradition!

  3. Christoph October 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm -

    Dear Pinto, there are 35.000 wineproducts on the Belgian market and investing in Megavino gets your wine in the picture ; we are not conservative because all worldwine countries have a strong position in our market

  4. pinto October 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm -

    Christoph, I base my statement on conversations with your countrymen I meet during visits with producers, what I see in Belgian shops and more recently, what Belgians load into their trolleys during the foires aux vins. I think compared to at least your westerly neighbours, where most of SA wine marketing is channeled, Belgium shows a very clear preference for the classic regions. Supermarkets are a very good indicator what people’s everyday needs are and I like to think I should compare Delhaize to Waitrose as quality leaders. The difference in the breadth of the wine selections in these shops is stark. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think Belgians drink at far higher quality level than most nations (isn’t the average spend per bottle like three times that of the Netherlands?), but I can’t shake my impression you are less likely to experiment outside France, and especially Bordeaux, than other northern Europeans.

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