Talk about low-key marketing! The VOC or Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, the first multinational in the world, sailed back to Table Bay yesterday afternoon as a brand of Cape Legends. And there I was thinking the VOC trademark was owned by the late Michael Wright whose Voyager Estate in Margaret River has more riempies stoele than a Salt River second hand shop. Which reminds me of a joke about a broken down bergie sitting on a riempiesbank. “Excuse me, do you know your balls are hanging through the riempies?” “No, but if you sing the words I’ll hum a tune.”
Here Martin Moore, sage of Sauvignon Blanc and cellar master of Durbanville Hills, points a fickle finger of fate at the camera with the VOC logo in the background.
Martin was on hand to pour a brace of world class Sauvignons Blanc in a pod setting. Sauvignon stars included Fleur du Cap, Lomond and Durbanville Hills including the stunning Rhinofields whose 2012 vintage was poured for a case of International Somms by Pieter de Waal, secretary and arch-manipulator of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group [SBIG] earlier in the week. While the Rhinofields was not part of the FNB Top Ten, it was a Pieter Pick as indeed were 75% of the wines he showed to the Somms, not FNB faves. Which must make FNB marketing mavens wonder why they sponsor this controversial competition if the choices of judges are so cavalierly discarded.
Pieter asked me to be an FNB judge last year, but dropped me at the last moment with the plaintive plea “please don’t lambast me or SBIG for not including you on the FNB Top 10 panel this time around, and let’s rather work together for the Sauvignon Blanc Blends Competition next year.” Which is quite an insult to suggest I would stoop so low to settle scores and made me think he only asked me to judge in the first place to mute criticism of any selection. But seeing as though he himself does not pay too much attention to what the judges rate, its all academic, anyway. The arrogance of bureaucrats never ceases to amaze.
But how brave of Cape Legends to have their brands compete head-on by cultivar to the hoards of restaurant and supermarket buyers (above) who packed the Lookout next to the Cape Town Waterfront. In the past, wines were showcased by estates or brands and it takes a healthy dose of retailing realism to taste like against like. The next step is to taste blind, as is the case when Tops at Spar Fundis choose liquor for the largest wine retailer in SA. That’s when the opinions of sighted wine guides, puffmeisters, barkers and shills fall flat on their faces.
Wine of the evening was the Earthbound Pinot Noir 2012 made by Samuel Viljoen (above). A Fairtrade wine, this is also surely the last nail in the coffin of WIETA, the ethical trading competition to Fairtrade pushed by WOSA ex-CEO Su Birch for personal political reasons. When the largest wine producer in the country chooses Fairtrade over WIETA, a powerful message is passed on to nogschleppers.