Distell’s Kay Nash: In Vino Libertas

There was a collective groan from certain wine industry insiders in January when South African liquor behemoth Distell announced the formation of an affiliate to take care of the upper-end of its wine business. Under the name of Libertas Vineyards and Estates, a stand-alone company has been put in-place to corral ubiquitous Distell brands such as Alto, Pongrácz, Nederburg, Chateau Libertas, Durbanville Hills, Zonnebloem and Plaisir de Merle into an entity tasked with focussing on the corporation’s premium wine offering.

But as the true vision of the new Libertas entity begins to take shape, it appears as if Distell’s wine strategy has reached a maturity and inclusivity sorely missed over the past few years.

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Older Beauties Tasted at Amorim Re-corking

There’s been a lot of talk about the recorking of old South African wines currently being undertaken by Joaquim Sá of Amorim Cork, but for me the real revelation was the contents of those bottles. It was, indeed, rivetingly exciting watching Jean Vincent Ridon, a world-leader in cork-extraction, prying open the dust-covered antiquities with surgical-like precision and refined expertise.

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Don’t Be Afraid of the Brand

For professional reasons I often have to include the word “brand” in marketing discussions, and like rugby, pizza, blonde and car it is a word that can lead to lengthy and mixed views, with more opinions vexed thereon than strategies for world peace in the Middle East. In the wine world, however, the B-word gets pussy-footed around. Largely because real established brands are seen as big, popular things owned by large impersonal corporates producing wines that – heaven forbid – are actually consumed in copious volumes.

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