People’s Guide rolls into Town

Pinot Noir heads Alex Dale and Paul Cluver like The Guide!
Pinot Noir heads Alex Dale and Paul Cluver like The Guide!

It has arrived, and in style. Neil Pendock and Michael Olivier’s People’s Guide was launched at the Vineyard Hotel’s airy, cool Splash bar and the event reflected the laid-back and quirky style of this guide.

Journalists, a TV crew, winemakers, former and current models, housewives, cattle farmers, bonsai experts, sushi chefs, actresses and even a guide-dog turned up to celebrate the launch of a guide which is really welcome addition to the country’s wine guide spectrum.

Conversation varied from the exhaustive process of putting a book like this together to the book of erotic short stories one of the wine hacks present was preparing for publishing. Paul Cluver gave me an earful for plonking ice in my glass of Two Oceans Pinot Noir, until I told him that his Cluver 7 Flags Pinot Noir (R300 plus a bottle) was also good with ice.

One of the winemakers also relayed the fact that a picture of WINE Magazine babe and Parlotone groupie,Jeanri-Tine van Zyl had been pinned up in the winery’s office, just in case,Jeanri happened to pop-in for one of her controversial Cellar Door Shoot Out columns.

Ms Van Zyl was present at the launch, of course, looking exotically elegant. Between her, wine.co.za’s Hilary Swank look-alike Nikki Lordan and hunk Miles Mossop, the People’s Guide launch was also aesthetically pleasing.

As mentioned, I eventually got to taste some of the Two Oceans Pinot Noir which, for R30 a bottle, is going to do a lot for demystifying the heartbreak grape.

So, what about that book?

The People’s Guide provides tasting notes and information on 561 wines selected from a list of 1,200 representing all major categories including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cap Classique, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Pinotage. Besides relevant information on each wines flavour profiles, the Guide offers food suggestions, quirky and irreverent wine-related facts and ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ most importantly ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ a guide to what the consumer can be expected to pay for the wine.

Stand-out wines are awarded their own page under the title Coup de Coeur (Blow to the Heart) to highlight wines that blew the judges socks off.

“Besides the terrific wines included in this guide, the book celebrates the wine consumer and wine buyer,” says Olivier. “Without the customer, there would be no wine industry. The industry therefore owes the customer a guide that clearly, objectively and honestly provides the wine lover with the information he or she wants to know. And despite all the hot air surrounding wine, the whims of the customer are simple: what wine tastes good and how much does it cost. This simple approach lies at the heart of the guide, which we have also tried to keep as informative and colourful as possible.”

According to Pendock, a wine guide has to have integrity and be written for the customer who is expected to pay good money for the love of wine, and not be written to opine or impress the insular wine fraternity. “That’s why The People’s Guide has ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ unlike South Africa’s other well-known wine guide ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ insisted on providing opinions reached through blind-tastings of the wines listed,” says Pendock. “In order to be honest to the paying wine customer, the judges tasted the wines unsighted and were thus able to provide truly objective, unbiased opinions which to our minds lead to the most authoritative wine guide in South Africa.”

In selecting the wines for The People’s Guide, Pendock and Olivier were assisted by local and international wine experts including An?+¦???+¦?+¦-+?-íbal Coutinho, one of Portugal’s leading wine writers and judges, local doyenne Norma Ratcliffe, Cathy Marston who founded Cape Town’s The Nose wine bar and David Mnoneleli Msebi who trained under Marston at The Nose.

Besides the tasting notes, price guides and irreverent facts “Rooiberg Winery claims to be 10,000km from London and 9,999km from Paris!”, the guide ends with team called the Bacchus Boys consisting of 11 wine-makers ready to take on the world in 2010.

But the power-play is offered by Allan Cheesman, international wine consultant and former wine-buyer for British retail chain Sainsbury. In his foreword to The People’s Guide he writes: “As retail diversity increasingly becomes complexity becomes confusion, a GPS (Gastronomic rather than Global Positioning System) like The People’s Guide is a godsend to anyone wishing to find a shortcut to the ultimate gastronomic destination: a decent glass of wine at a decent price.”

The People’s Guide is published by Whisk Publications and retails for R99.

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