From the Outside Looking In

As a partner to the South African wine industry, part of my responsibility entails immersing myself in this country’s unique, colourful and vibrant wine culture. This, of course, includes getting close to as many South African wines as possible by, well, tasting them. As they say in the classics: it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Obviously I keep a cellar of various local wines to entertain ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ especially when friends and family from my home country of,Austria are in the vicinity.

I also make a point of visiting as many wine shows as possible, catching up with the winemakers and sharing in the unbridled and spontaneous enthusiasm they have for their current and older wines. As a member of the Wine Swines, one of the oldest wine clubs in South Africa, I can also experience the excitement of tasting local wines interspersed with icons from the wine regions of France, Spain, Australia, Germany and America. (On a rare occasion, something from,Austria will be included in the line-up, courtesy of an adventurous Swine or one trying to give me a hard-time!)

After such a recent universal tasting I sat back underneath the oaks of Muratie Estate, looked out from Simonsberg in the direction of Table Mountain, and wondered if the South African wine industry actually realises how good its products are. This had been just one occasion where various local wines outperformed Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa and Margaret River. The local reds were classical in structure, cloaked in a confident layer of intriguing fruit and spice. The whites more than held their own against Burgundy Grand Cru whilst also showing unique South African characteristics.

Yet in the debate ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ continued, relentless, lengthy ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ on Brand South Africa, the industry appears to not be as confident and proud as the fantastic wines it produces. Would it not be wonderful to create a Roald Dahl-type of scenario where each bottle of South African wine is able to provide its own narrative in written or spoken form? Imagine a bottle of full-blooded Cabernet Sauvignon or mineral-infused Chenin Blanc literally speaking and espousing its merits to international wine fundis and journalists.

This voice of unabashed confidence is needed to allow the country to take-up its rightful place as one of the world’s leading wine producers. Wine has many powers. But one which is needed by South African wines is to convince more people in their own country that Brand South Africa deserves a spot in the limelight, on the world stage. And South African wine lovers themselves do not know how lucky they are to have such a diverse array of wonderful wine on their doorstep, at a fraction of the price of a foreign player whose quality is not even a patch.

PL Kopp

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