UCT to rate SA wineries

Neil Pendock March 15, 2012 15

An e-mail from UCT asking for my Top 20 wineries. Seems I’m one of 35 “winewriters, sommeliers and retailers” being approached, 30 local and five” important and locally-well-experienced foreign critics.”  Harumph!

Ivory Towers to start rating wine producers

What I want from you is two lists: firstly your TOP FIVE wineries (in no particular order). Then another FIFTEEN wineries to complete your list of the top 20; again the order is irrelevant. Do not list ranges, only wineries operating as distinct entities/brands. The resulting compilation will rank the wineries according to the number of votes they receive.

As to criteria, it is often more intuitive, perhaps, how you weigh up a tiny winery with a single good wine against a large producer with a few equally good wines but also a lot of dross, etc, etc. You must decide. The only criterion I am imposing, please, is the modest one that the winery must have a track record of at least three vintages. But let’s again develop a supplementary list in addition: please, if you would, please SEPARATELY nominate UP TO FIVE developing wineries which you think are likely to become strong contenders for a top 20 placing in the near future.

Also, obviously, if you have a financial connection with a winery (as consultant or whatever), please do not list that winery.

Yrs

Tim James
UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN

Five reasons I’ll rather sit this one out:

1. All retailers and most sommeliers have impicit financial relations with producers as they buy the stuff, so who will they vote for?
2. If the assessment was done blind, 1) wouldn’t matter, but it ain’t;
3. I’d rather not feed the cultural cringe epidemic – if this list was being made Down Under would the Aussies ask five important and locally-well-experienced foreign critics? NOT;
4. There are already too many competitions;
5. The best that this exercise can do will be to reflect hype and media spend. Very few of the 35 sipping Solomons ever venture out past Strand.

There, Dr. Blade Nzimande and Professor Max Price – I didn’t even ask what a University is doing involved in such half-baked research or who chooses the judges. Which of course will determine the Top Twenty.  Or even that judges can make up their own criteria, which rather stuffs things, I would have thought. Scientific it most certainly ain’t but presumably it will make a few bucks for the organizer when he publishes it in the Mail & Guardian.

15 Comments »

  1. Rob Boyd March 15, 2012 at 9:56 am -

    So, Neil, you feel that a list of the country’s Top 20 wineries should be chosen via a blind tasting ?

  2. Neil Pendock March 15, 2012 at 10:07 am -

    Why not Rob? If Platter was tasted blind, a Top 20 would pop out that would have more credibility than this luv-fest for friends, the fashionable and freebee donors.

  3. Rob Boyd March 15, 2012 at 10:38 am -

    Surely that would suggest you were choosing the Top20 wines rather than wineries ? I realise the two are inextricably linked but they are not quite the same thing.

  4. Tim James March 15, 2012 at 11:08 am -

    Those who don’t know Pendock’s malignant methodologies should perhaps be told that his relationship here to truth and integrity is as dodgy as usual. In fact he is effectively telling a lie. The greeting at the end of the email was emphatically not as shown above. It ended: “Yours [line] Tim”. This was followed on the next lines by my telephone numbers. Then there was a spacer like this: ####. Then there was the usual disclaimer from the University of Cape Town (as I use the UCT email server from my home computer). The disclaimer ends thus: ” If this e-mail is not related to the business of UCT it is sent by the sender in the sender’s individual capacity.” (You’d have to be pretty stupid to think that this was related to UCT business.) Pendock’s own academic training clearly didn’t include learning that when you quote something you’re not allowed to leave out half the words without indicating you’ve done so.
    But I’ll take this as a not-so-polite response to my polite invitation to join in – as he did for the first few of these polls.

  5. Neil Pendock March 15, 2012 at 11:12 am -

    Tim, nothing malignant was meant. The e-mail came from tim.james@uct.ac.za which looks like an academic e-mail address to me and I deleted your phone numbers as I would do for any celebrity.

    The e-mail was received at 11.21am on Tuesday. What hours do people work at UCT?

  6. Neil Pendock March 15, 2012 at 11:29 am -

    Oh and another thing Tim, your rude comment “you’d have to be pretty stupid to think that this was related to UCT business” is also pretty dumb.

    This from Wade Bales’s site: “Wade Bales has been in the Wine Industry since 1992 and has completed a number of wine courses including the grueling Wine Tasting Academy in conjunction with the UCT Graduate School of Business and Wine Magazine.”

    If UCT can run Wine Tasting Academies, they can surely rate wineries?

  7. Tim James March 15, 2012 at 11:49 am -

    Neil, did you also delete the separating marker and the blank lines ### out of prudence rather than a desire to misrepresent the truth? And for the same reason not indicate that the name of the University was given as a heading to the disclaimer rather than as my location?
    Neil, you have received many dozens of emails from me at my UCT address over the years without getting confused about whether they were blessed by the University Chancellor or the Minister of Higher Education. Incidentally, the email address I used for you was at the University of the Witwatersrand.
    Your representation of my communication was intellectually dishonest at best, a lie at worst. The Sunday Times has never shown much sign of caring about similar performances from you in the past, so I daresay they won’t now, otherwise I would officially complain once more.

  8. Neil Pendock March 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm -

    As Tim seems to be obsessed with the text of his e-mail to me sent on Tuesday morning, I reproduce it in full below. Readers can make up their own minds. As for my deleting the ###’s I thought they were format control characters like the [UTF-8?]It’ which I cleaned up. I assumed they were to make UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN appear in bold on a shimmering background.

    Six questions for Tim:

    1) Why use a UCT academic e-mail account to send this message when Google and Hotmail offer free accounts?
    2) I presume the mornings telephone number is a UCT one? Do you run your wine business from UCT?
    3) Were you “working” at UCT on Tuesday morning when you sent this message?
    4) Were you “working” at UCT this morning when you commented twice on this blog?
    5) By sending a message where the largest phrase is UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN, are you not fraudulently implying this is UCT business? Especially when wine seems to be a growth area of research at UCT.
    6) You are of course welcome to complain to the editor of the Sunday Times about this blog – as you have done several times in the past. WIth SA educational resources stretched to the limit, I would respectfully suggest that UCT is wasting tax-payers’ money on activities such as these.

    Tim’s UCT e-mail from tim.james@uct.ac.za in full:

    Greetings

    Every two or three years for a decade I have been conducting a poll of selected winewriters, sommeliers and retailers to draw up a list of the top twenty South African wineries. Most judges will be local, but this year I am asking five important and locally-well-experienced foreign critics to participate. I am approaching around 35 people altogether. (FYI, the last [UTF-8?]– fourth – list can be found here:http://www.grape.co.za/users/tim_james/blog/2010-04-12-top_20_south_african_wineries.html)

    [UTF-8?]It’s a fast-developing industry, of course. Ten of the wineries in the 2010 list were not in the first list of 2001 [UTF-8?]– many of them [UTF-8?]didn’t even exist then! Although it is getting increasingly difficult for any individual to really adequately monitor all possible contenders over a period, it seems worth continuing the process. So [UTF-8?]I’m asking you to participate in producing the next list [UTF-8?]– which will be first presented in the Mail & Guardian newspaper (where I have a weekly wine column).

    What I want from you is two lists: firstly your TOP FIVE wineries (in no particular order). Then another FIFTEEN wineries to complete your list of the top 20; again the order is irrelevant. Do not list ranges, only wineries operating as distinct entities/brands. The resulting compilation will rank the wineries according to the number of votes they receive.

    As to criteria, it is often more intuitive, perhaps, how you weigh up a tiny winery with a single good wine against a large producer with a few equally good wines but also a lot of dross, etc, etc. You must decide. The only criterion I am imposing, please, is the modest one that the winery must have a track record of at least three vintages. But [UTF-8?]let’s again develop a supplementary list in addition: please, if you would, please

    SEPARATELY nominate UP TO FIVE developing wineries which you think are likely to become strong contenders for a top 20 placing in the near future.

    Also, obviously, if you have a financial connection with a winery (as consultant or whatever), please do not list that winery.

    By the way, absolute discretion is assured. Only I will have access to your lists [UTF-8?]– there is no way any producer will get to hear of your vote as a result of the process. [UTF-8?](It’s been done four times, as I say, and no participant has ever complained of leaks.)

    NB: Please let me have your list ASAP [UTF-8?]– no later than Friday 23 March.

    [UTF-8?]I’d be grateful if you would let me know if you are NOT willing to participate in this poll. I will then know not to nag you; otherwise [UTF-8?]I’ll nudge you in reminder, if you have not yet sent in your list, on Monday 20 March.

    Thanks in anticipation

    Yrs

    Tim

    Tim James

    Work tel (mornings): (+27 21) 650 3657

    Mobile: 079 1499 844

    ###

    UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN

    This e-mail is subject to the UCT ICT policies and e-mail disclaimer published on our website at http://www.uct.ac.za/about/policies/emaildisclaimer/ or obtainable from +27 21 650 9111. This e-mail is intended only for the person(s) to whom it is addressed. If the e-mail has reached you in error, please notify the author. If you are not the intended recipient of the e-mail you may not use, disclose, copy, redirect or print the content. If this e-mail is not related to the business of UCT it is sent by the sender in the sender’s individual capacity.

    ###

  9. slightly confused March 15, 2012 at 6:28 pm -

    Neil, your email address published on the winenews.co.za site is a Wits account, get a grip on yourself.

  10. Neil Pendock March 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm -

    No story there, dear Slightly. I quit Wits in 1999 and that account (sometimes) forwards messages to my Gmail account.

    I haven’t sent a message from Wits in years – but then you’re an anonymous chicken that I probably wouldn’t e-mail anyway, so you wouldn’t know that, would you. Thanks for your IP address, though. Always comes in useful tracking down graffiti gnomes and trolls.

  11. Mr Chow March 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm -

    Mr Chow thinks this whole thing is FUCT. (From UCT)…….! Getttitttttt!

  12. Thomas March 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm -

    Pistols at dawn I say………

  13. Mary March 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm -

    ooohh what fun!

    I like the pistols at dawn idea.

    Can I come and watch? Will Tim and Neil be shooting blind or sighted?

  14. Neil Pendock March 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm -

    Mary, sorry to disappoint, but the pips at Grape and I are really the best of mates behind the scenes. Generating a bit of heat and light about Tim’s flagrant and fragrant UCT connections is simply a way of getting more publicity for the winery ratings wheeze.

  15. Ian Joseph April 29, 2012 at 8:26 am -

    Neil, you just need to read Tim James column in the M&G to see that he is a trumped up, over inflated nobody who has no idea how to write about wine. A few examples:
    “Ripe but not sugary, concentrated but subtle and understated, lightly rich but nervy, it is a lovely, serene wine that will grow even better and more complex over quite a few years.”
    Exactly how does “lightly rich” wine taste? Not to speak of “nervy”, “serene” and other totally meaningless adjectives. Exactly how many years is “quite a few”?
    I live in Northern California and love drinking good wine without the bullshit. He goes too far with his meaningless, trumped up descriptions..

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