Sotheby’s Schoolboy Howlers

Neil Pendock December 10, 2007 4

The fourth revised edition of the Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia has just thudded onto a bookstore shelf near you. Author Tom Stevenson admits “frankly, I do not have the budget of a major revise” as is clear from his section on SA which has more schoolboy howlers than an annual subscription to the Beano. Here are my top ten:
More howlers than a year’s subscription to The Beano
1. “The development of [Pinotage] was supposed to provide Burgundy-like elegance in the baking vineyards of North Africa.”
2. La Motte is “owned by Hanneli Koegelenberg, the daughter of Anton Rupert, the second richest man in SA.”
3. Niel Bester is owner-winemaker at Distell flagship estate Plaisir de Merle.
4. Bankrupt Sentinel Winery is rated 1½ stars out of 3.
5. Old Vines is SA’s only women’s empowerment winery.
6. L’Ormarins was restored by the late Toni Rupert.
7. Villiera Estate is back in Paarl after a short sojourn in the Stellenbosch appellation.
8. Gyles Webb is owner-winemaker at Thelema Mountain.
9. “This winery [Woolworths] produces wines that are stylish and generally good value.”
10. Beyers Truter is back at Kanonkop as winemaker.

Wikipedia, the people’s encyclopedia, is often criticized for the inaccuracies of its stories. Tom Stevenson gives you the same thing in hardcopy for R540.


  1. Prudence December 11, 2007 at 1:50 pm -

    Excellent. If I send you a copy of Tom’s Wine Report, will do ditto?

  2. Neil December 11, 2007 at 1:57 pm -

    Hi Pru

    Have done a review of the Wine Report for the Sunday Times. Once it appears, I’ll blog it here.

  3. Stan Grant December 12, 2007 at 8:10 am -

    Found another one. Tom thinks “wyn van oorsprong” is Dutch for “wine of origin.” We speak Afrikaans here Tom and the Dutch spell wine wijn. Let’s hope the Cape Wine Academy ditches this pathetic effort as a reference book.

  4. Sunit Talukdar December 13, 2007 at 2:52 pm -

    Lets not be too harsh….it’s still as accurate and independent a guide to SA’s wines as our own WINE magazine is.

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