Monkey Talk and Hard News


We all know about lies, damn lies and statistics. The latter, however, do have a role to play when it comes to substantiating statements of the PR nature.
Thus, when receiving a press release breathlessly announcing the success of a specific wine or brand, said success would be so much more believable ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and newsworthy ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ if backed up by a few figures that could just make this progressive state of events more believable.
Certain wine brands are however seemingly not concerned with backing up statements with facts or figures.
A while back there was that howler of a media release from Durbanville Hills informing news rooms that South African Sauvignon Blancs were making major strides in the New Zealand market. The pants-wetting enthusiasm with which the media release was written was, unfortunately, not backed up by any proof of this South African onslaught on the Land of the Long Cloud, or whatever they prefer to call themselves.
Needless to say, the release received hardly any coverage.
Shortly after, the following release is mailed courtesy of OBIKWA wines.
I quote verbatim:
OBIKWA wines make major strides
OBIKWA, the fun loving range of palate pleasing wines that stuck its neck out earlier this year by launching five wines in South Africa after its runaway success overseas, has made major strides on home turf in less than a year.
“OBIKWA has exceeded all our expectations which just goes to show that even in tough economic times, there is always a place for quality varietal wines at a pocket-friendly price,” says winemaker….
Had this been written by a journalist, any news editor worth his or her salt would have been guilty of physical abuse in the workplace, with sexual harassment an optional extra.
Why? Because nowhere in the release is there any fact or figure to back-up the “runaway success” and “major strides”.
(Further on the missive talks on the wine’s “ethnic charm”, ridiculous descriptions are so part-and-parcel or the wine industry’s communications set-up that this comes as no surprise.)
Should there be concern at this poor level of wine industry communications?
Yes. Analytical wine writing is disappearing from the dead tree media at an alarming rate as the frequency and length of wine columns has been slashed over the past few years. Could the poor state of wine communication not be reason for this?

– Darien Morgan

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8 thoughts on “Monkey Talk and Hard News

  1. Darien, the only pants-wetting you have elicited is your inability to distinguish between just more pr-crap from overpaid marketing hacks, and trustworthy press releases from reliable people in the industry, such as the Sauvignon Blanc interest group. Anybody who believes the absolute tripe some of these hacks put out, deserves a year’s supply of Obikwa to swallow down their sliced-white, peanutbutter and tomatoosauce sarmies…


  2. Well hello Johan, and thanks for the comment. I must say, I do not follow your train of thought. I was merely underscoring the class of PR releases and not trying to distinguish between anything. I subscribe to the receptor pool for media releases, and have to date not seen anything by the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group. Seeing you are very partial to the doings of this Group, why not forward their news to WineGoggle and I’ll catch it at the office. Begin by telling us whether any producers have been tested for additives this year.

  3. Darien, for someone in the “receptor pool for media releases” your attempt at ignorance shines through like a playboy bunny’s PVC wraparound-skirt. If I’m not mistaken, you’re the same bloke who misread the Distell/Durbanville Hills PR blurb as an authentic viewpoint from the selfsame Sauvignon Blanc interest Group you now claim to know nothing about. If you need any clarification, why not contact Pieter de Waal directly?

    And the below-the-belt response regarding additives? C’mon, we all know that what happens in any winecellar after hours is a better-kept secret than some of your co-writers’ skills at blind tastings 😉

  4. Good Day Johan
    Always nice to hear from you. If you recall correctly, the Durbanville Hills blurb was not related to the SBIG. Therefore my asking of how the SBIG could allow such tripe to be issued and potentially harm Brand SA Sauvignon Blanc. I indeed did contact Mr De Waal, who gave some wishy-washy argument, obviously not wishing to affront those who subsidise the SBIG. (See my letter and his reply.)
    Thanks for the reply on additives, confirming that there are folk out there who assume these practices still occur. Which makes the importance of proactive communication on the topic more important than ever.
    Kind regards
    PS – by the time I get to the Bunnies, their skirts are off.

  5. Hi Darien and Johan

    Thanks for the lively debate, the “skuinsklappe” but also the votes of confidence.

    Please look here for the most recent press release from the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group (SBIG):

    Ps. Darien. If you have any hard facts regarding any wrong-doings by any South African Sauvignon Blanc producer, please communicate this to me, as mere conjecture does not constitute fact in any way. I vaguely recall that a highly respected journalist had to put up a case of Gusto Sauvignon Blanc a few years ago after making unfounded and unsubstantiated statements in the past.


  6. Good day Pieter. It seems you have misread my missive(s). I merely alluded to a general need for proactive communication, something that assists in ridding society of “unfounded” and “unsubstantiated” statements. Are wineries still being tested by the Wine and Spirits Board for potential Sauvignon Blanc irregularities, as was the case in 2004? Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask this question directly.
    Kind regards

  7. Hi Darien

    Thank you for the opportunity to proactively communicate to you that, as in the past, regular and extensive tests are still done to ensure that South African Sauvignon Blanc production is above reproach. Whereas the function was previously done by the Wine and Spirits Board (via the LNR) it has been taken over by the Department of Agriculture who has the capacity to do even more extensive testing than in the past. I hope that this will be a step in the right direction in ridding society of unfounded statements and allusions without any substance.


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