SA selling out rather than selling up?
By Christian Eedes, 14 June 2011
Received this email from a wine enthusiast (name known) based in London concerned that South Africa is still not succeeding in getting its export offering right:
“Recently it was announced that Distell has taken a stake in Brand Phoenix which started First Cape wines with the Newton-Johnsons and some of the co-ops. Now I am in London and was aghast at Sainsbury’s recently to see First Cape offering Australian wine! But it get worse: I now see they are offering a First Cape 5.5% abv sparkling wine aperitif concocted at some anonymous D-number in Germany…
I am sure the N-Js would be horrified (I gather they are no longer involved) but it does seem to me to be dreadful prostitution of a (hitherto) well-regarded brand in the UK.
On a recent trip to the Lake District we picked up some 3-for-£10 Chenin under the label Wagontree and I was horrified to see it was bulk-shipped and bottled by Fosters EMEA, Twickenham. Also on the shelves I have seen Lindeman’s Cape Wines [this originally an Australian brand]…
Is nothing sacred?”
There is a feeling among informed observers that the quality of South African wine at all levels of the market has never been better and yet often the feedback from international consumers is that they are still left disappointed. What gives?