Here’s a wine column in two parts. The first is a response to a nagging complaint against people like myself, that we should be quiet about the huge amounts of people drinking truly atrocious wines, because, you know, so what. To balance it out, I will suggest some great bargain wines to drink as well.
A few days ago on twitter, “apprentice #winemaker, #Kanonkop tasting room casual, francophile #winelover” Riaan Smit started at me after I lolled at how that disastrous sparkling concoction, the KWV Cafe Culture Chocolate Mousse won a category at the recent 100 Women 100 Wines event.
I am not going to go into the competition sufficed to say that Clare Mack organizes an event where 100 “diverse . . . women of all creeds, colours, backgrounds and tastes in wine” get together, taste through a bunch of wines, and place them into categories. This sickly silly sweet sparkling wine won the “Celebration Category”. I truly feel for those whose celebration is dampened by such a wine.
I am not attacking the competition. I have tired from doing that. I just pointed out on twitter how I thought the wine winning anything was ridiculous. Then Riaan tweeted
“95% of people don’t drink “fine wine”. Popular is not necessarily bad. #getawinelife”
He followed up with:
“What’s good & bad is a sterile debate. Let’s rather focus on a spectrum of wine styles for vastly different tastes? #cheers”
Now Riaan is entitled to his opinion and taste, and if he thinks I have this all wrong the comments section below is all his. But this weird idea about not talking about good and bad wines is strange. I have heard it before, and I just don’t get it.
Why do we pussy-foot around good and bad wine? Why, when critics start saying how bad a wine is they are not met with thanks, or acknowledgement, but rather with the wet-fish response that “Oh come on, people must just drink what they like. So what if it’s kak, people love it, get off your high horse.”
People cheer when Gordon Ramsey rubbishes a restauranteur, they laugh with glee when Jeremy Clarkeson rips an automobile a new one because his giant frame can’t fit into it, and the knobs are too plasticky, and their faces light up when AA Gill cuts up a restaurant in a review so acerbic your mouth puckers.
Look, I am no Clarkeson, Gill, or Ramsey, that’s for sure. But when it comes to wine I am immediately accused of being a snob, or pretentious if I say it is awful and not fit any living breathing thing’s consumption.
I do not care how many people buy the KWV Cafe Culture Chocolate Mousse, or Two Oceans Quay 5 wines. I do not care if they are sold out all over this fine country, they still are, and will remain, very very kak wines. This is not simply personal taste. This is not me being pretentious. It is simple, unadulterated fact.
A Durban Rickshaw is fun and all, but it isn’t going to win car of the year. Just because millions eat McDonalds it doesn’t change the fact they serve processed, flavorless pieces of cardboard with sugar filled sauces. Come on people. There are such things as good and bad wines, and there is no harm in pointing this out.
But you know what pisses me off? This reply from Riaan when I ask why wine should be expempt from a good vs. bad debate:
@HarryReginald Wine not exempt. Problem is: 95% of drinkers have no interest in this debate. Who are you to pontificate to them?
What? Firstly I only pontificate to those happy to be pontificated to, dear chap. Close your browser now if you are unhappy.
But that’s not the issue. It’s these fake statistics people pull out all the time. Believing they have some sort of preternatural deep understanding of the South African wine drinking public, and believe – haughtily – that they can speak on behalf of them. Sorry to pick on you Riaan, you are not at all the only one.
Should I and other wine writers, because of these assumed 95% that seem hell-bent on drinking kak wine, quiet down, stop telling people which wines we think are good and bad? No.
Firstly, because I do not believe these made up statistics. Secondly, even if these fantasy stats are correct, and one of those in the 95% does read this column, and does taste and enjoy the wines I am about to suggest, then Riaan, all my pontificating is worth it. Because if I can get just one person to switch from frothy, ridiculous spoofy wine, to a fresh (and also sweet, by the way) delicious Riesling, then I have done something good. I do not fool myself into thinking this will change the world, but I am tired of people saying wine critics are useless because the people just like what they like. It’s simply not true.
Right. Onto some very good wines. Yesterday I was treated to the launch of Paul Cluver’s Woolworth range of wines. What happens at Woolworths is that Allan Mullins, Cape Wine Master and all round nice guy, works with farms to create blends and wines specifically for Woolworths.
In my opinion these are the best Paul Cluver Woolworths wines ever. And the best part is the price. Oh boy these prices are good.
Ferricrete Riesling 2012 (R69)
BUY THIS WINE. It’s fresh, bright, zingy and delicious. Some lemon and lime flavours, with a brilliantly balanced acidity. It’s in a sweeter style, and I could go through a whole bottle without even thinking. Everyone moans about locals wanting sweeter styled wines. Well, here you go. This is a kick-ass wine, and it’s sweet. For that price, it is ridiculous. I love it.
Limited Release Gewürztraminer 2012 (R59)
Typical floral nose. More genteel rose petals than full on Turkish delight. This is an aromatic wine, and again, for the price, an absolutely cracking deal.
Cabernet Franc Reserve (R79)
I sometimes dread tasting single variety South African Cab Franc. It can be too vegetal and green. Hard work at times. This one, however, totally charmed me. A wonderfully fragrant nose. It’s medium bodied, with bright red fruit, with a green side to it, but in a positive way. It’s an example of this variety that, while not the finest wine ever, is truly delicious. Which I think at times is more important than any score or stars.
Pinot Noir Reserve 2010 (R99)
A cherry-fruit driven Pinot. A good example, if perhaps not as complex at some others currently available. Look, if you want a decent Pinot and you are in Woolies, you really can’t go wrong here.
Hat-tip to Mr.Mullins, Ivan and the rest of the team at Woolworths wine. It is the supermarket to buy wine at.
Seriously though, GO BUY THAT RIESLING.
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