Two leading SA sommeliers – David Clarke who was executive officer for Sommeliers Australia in his days Down Under and James Pietersen who was chief Som at SA’s most successful wine bar Belthazar at the Waterfront, have been dropped as visualizers for the 2015 edition of the wine label guide.
What precisely does this achieve? The top five achievements for newbie publisher JP Rossouw:
Increase the average age of visualizers on the panel;
Seriously deplete the international experience of the panel;
Remove a chance for producers to sell wine to restaurants enlightened enough to employ sommeliers;
Contribute to making SA sommeliers even more irrelevant;
Remove two of the most able tasters from the publication.
The axing of Michael Fridjhon was to be expected. According to Platter Assistant/Associate editor Tim James, Michael was the highest paid taster on the guide and by deleting him, Diners Club saves on shipping tasting samples to Johannesburg, which, considering the rates charged by Vineyard Connection, can be an expensive enterprise.
But the real reason is probably Michael’s financial connections with competitors to Platter owner Standard Bank. RMB sponsor WineX while Old Mutual – owned by Nedbank – pay for his Trophy Wine Show. Standard are long time backers of Juliet Cullinan and her festival which provides welcome competition to WineX.
Meanwhile the remaining band of Platter visualizers are feeling like passengers on the Titanic, waiting for the rescue boats from Newfoundland as the orchestra strikes up abide with me…
PS. Seated in Clarke’s Bar on Bree this morning, I receive the tweet below from Mr. Clarke
Hi @neilpendock, small correction, I was not dropped, I opted out as I have too many conflicts of interest to taste. Thanks.
If only the rest of the Platter visualizers with conflicts of interest would follow Davo’s example.