The Man Who Saved KWV

Neil Pendock March 5, 2014 0

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the infamous green pepper scandal in which the importer of Cloudy Bay unmasked KWV as green pepper addicts. While adding French oak to Sauvignon Blanc is acceptable, indeed sometimes required if you wish to be taken seriously, adding green peppers is a no-no. As is adding water. But rather than commission land artist Strijdom van der Merwe to erect a giant green pepper outside La Concorde to commemorate the scandal, KWV are rumoured to be opening a restaurant with last year’s Kokkedoor konkel sjef. Will stuffed green peppers be on the menu, I wonder?


A giant green pepper, or capsicum as the Wine Lizard pompously calls them, would not last long outside KWV if the fate of the giant Queensland mango (above) stolen by Nando’s Chicken last month, is anything to go by. Of course a mango would be totally inappropriate for KWV Chenin as its bursting with tropical fruit already.

But KWV was stuffed long before the green pepper scandal broke. Forced into SAWIT, the SA Wine Industries Trust chaired by the very person who broke the green pepper scandal, the former icon of SA wine was ruthlessly plundered by dodgy characters posing as empowerment heroes and transformation Trojans. When will Mandy Wiener investigate this scandal, I wonder? A tale which will make her book about the sui-murder of Brett Kebble read like a fairytale.

Next Jannie Mouton tried to seize the company via a cheeky offer from Pioneer Foods. An offer the shareholders who said “no” to now must bitterly regret. Things were equally tumultuous on the wine front with cellar master Kosie  Möller leaving under a cloud. The scandals just kept on coming. Next was the Wine magazine Chenin Challenge – chaired by the same whistle-blowing Cloudy Bay importer – which awarded the victor’s laurels to the KWV Val du Chene 2004 when another wine received a higher score. It was scandals like these that turned my own Sour Grapes into a best seller. (Copies are still available at the Pendock Wine Gallery @ Taj for R100).


But help was on hand from an unlikely direction – Australia – who can do other things besides play cricket. Richard Rowe (above) rode in like the Lone Ranger and turned the sinking super tanker around. Today KWV is making some of the smartest wines in SA and some well priced ones, too. So it made sense for the Pendock Wine Gallery @ Taj to ask Richard to curate an exhibition of his Rockstars.

Richard will open the exhibition at 6pm tomorrow and his choices (in his own words) are:

Mentors Chardonnay: I am genuinely excited about SA cool climate Chardonnay. This Chardonnay is wine of origin Elgin, and is an elegant modern Chardonnay expressing the new direction of Chardonnay style not only amongst SA producers but also from various other new world producers as well. It displays modest alcohol, limes and minerality and none of the fatness seen in the “old’ style, and represents a significant stylistic journey in evolving our approach to Chardonnay wine making.

Mentors Chenin: It’s great to be working with quality Chenin…  never had the opportunity in Australia. With Chenin, we believe there being too much stylistic diversity, and too many failing to deliver elegance and finesse. This wine is very much work in progress, but love the restraint, and the persistence.

Mentors Pinotage: This will be tasted against an old KWV Pinotage, with the aim of demonstrating how far we have come stylistically, and to also demonstrate that it is variety which can age gracefully. Pinotage is a great variety, but has been much maligned because of the styles and quality of the past… modern Pinotage is fantastic and this is a great example of a world class wine that will hold its own amongst top wines of the world.

Richard will feature a 1974 KWV Swartland Pinotage as well as a Chateau Saint Cosme from the Rhone.

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