Bacchus is a cruel master. Last week he hands the victors laurels to KWV winemakers (below) at the Classic Wine equivalent of the Platter Guide (but blind tasted rather than the sighted fan club with 4 five star stunners as opposed to Platter’s frankly unbelievable 80). This week, the accountants department presents shocking financials – a six month loss of R20 million from a previous profit of R3.5 million. Even more disturbing is the frittering away of a cash war chest of R108m to an overdraft of R2m. As a shareholder in KWV, in the immortal words of Catherine Tate “am I bovvered?” Not at all.
KWV are making some of the smartest wines around. Their Semillon is world class while for R38, the KWV Chenin Blanc 2013 is unbeatable. The Roodeberg over delivers to a rude degree. They make the best brandy in the world in the shape of their 15 year old while for my money the 5 year old is unbeatable. They also have the potentially the strongest SA wine and spirit brand KWV and an empowered ownership. Richard Rowe is the smartest wine manager in SA and they own Irma Stern’s best painting while La Concorde has the potential to be Chateau Margaux on Main Street, Paarl.
So what is to be done? KWV must return to their roots and embrace their inner Afrikaner. After all, doesn’t KWV stand for Karel Wye Voete? Whisky is where it is in large part because it is indubitably Scottish. Brandy should become more boers – a lesson I learnt from Food|Wine|Design in Hyde Park earlier this month. I’ve never spoken so much Afrikaans since I left Boksburg in the 1970s. Let’s face it, Afrikaners is plesierig.
Kokkedoor makes MasterChef look like a Germiston primary school production. The best SA music is Afrikaans and art too – just look at Haneke Benade, Johann Louw and Anton Karstel. The University of Stellenbosch makes UCT and WITS look tired while Oak City itself is home to more billionaires than Johannesburg.
The future for SA wine and spirit exports is authenticity. Don’t worry about Jamie Foxx as the Dudemeister. Jack Parow has more pull on both sides of the Jukskei. KWV is the crown jewel of SA corporate wine and brandy and only a fool or a crook would sell the family jewels.