Budgets must be under severe pressure when the Nederburg Auction shares judges with the controversial Top 100 SA Wine Competition to select wines for the annual auction, as happened last month. Far better to have asked Mark Norrish (Ultra Liquors), Mark Robinson (Spar) and Mark Antony (Ancient Rome) I would have thought, as these are the guys who buy the stuff. Especially the Mark in Food Lover’s Market as Mark told me “these are the guys with the best retail offering.” No wonder they laughed off a R1.8 billion offer for the business five years ago from a competitor. If you can sell five bottles of Tin Cup wine for R100, you’re clearly onto a winning formula.
But Nederburg probably wasted their money as tasting is not even necessary these days. It all comes down to labels as the Platter guide confirms and Mike Veseth, Auction speaker last year, noted when he told assembled Marks “when I went to the local wine shop [in Washington State] with the most comprehensive selection of South Africa wines I found that 15 of the 16 wines on the shelf were ‘critter wines.’ ”
And nobody does critter wines better than Graham Beck Enterprises. As the Game Reserve range, launched at Cape Wine 2012 and now available in 30 countries, confirms. And what critters! Doekvoet dassies, Cape clawless otters and bat eared foxes. No wolftraps, roaming goats or faithful hounds here! Although there should be some fun in the zoo when Platter visualizes a score for Wolftrap, a brand owned by a director of Diners Club that now owns the guide. Talk about running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.
Someone had great fun doing the matching as the ears of the fox on the Pinotage label look suspiciously like those of François Naudé who makes arguably the finest Pinotage in SA called Le Vin de François while someone should tell marketing guru Etienne Heyns (above) what a nightclub otter is, as opposed to a bear. He probably knows, as he’s the brains behind the bubbly bars about to be rolled out across Europe under the Gorgeous brand. Don’t you just love delicious double entrendres? Do you like your sandals hairy?
My favourite is not even a critter. The Shiraz/Pinot Noir Rosé 2012 is associated with a hippy vygie, which grows only in a 20 square-metre patch on Rooiberg Mountain and of course in Woodstock in the 1960s. Although the US branch died out with the exception of Janis Joplin, who looks like she has been reincarnated as Erika Obermeyer (above with Etienne), the passionate winemaker responsible for the critters.
At R45 a bottle, her hippy is 25% cheaper than her Chenin or Sauvignon Blanc and must be on the shopping list of Mark from Food Lover’s Market. Nederburg have a fantastic opportunity to get with the zoo program: Vladimir Viognier has a nice ring to it and could also serve as a “wanted” poster for the Jack Russell of cellar master Razvan Macici, shoplifted from the farm in a daring heist.