Entries by Frank

Stelvin 13 May 2020

Michael Nash is an Australian from an IT background with a deep interest in Cape wines. He had planned to direct a luxury wine tourism programme to South Africa before the incompetence of our tourism authorities – rather than Covid-19 – put paid to the idea. This doesn’t mean that he’s given up drinking the […]

Focus 6 May 2020

In the world of wine, focus has long been considered a virtue. It’s pretty much a standard promise at a new winery launch, with the implicit but unspoken suggestion that most of the other producers have allowed themselves to be distracted. Focus can mean many things, from concentrating on a single variety or style of […]

Prohibitionism 29 April 2020

Until about a month ago most white South African’s impressions of prohibition were limited to movies like Bugsy Malone, the Untouchables and Miller’s Crossing. However, black South Africans who grew up before the Malan Commission report liberated the sale of alcohol to blacks in the early 1960s will have a less romantic view of bootlegging, […]

Estate Visits 22 April 2020

I’ve been visiting wine estates since the mid-1970s, a time so distant that even to describe the experience may sound a little like a medieval explorer landing on an undiscovered continent. The first cellars I came across were in France, during the year I spent in Montpellier. Some were very smart by the standards of […]

Classifications 15 April 2020

In 1855, at the express command of Napoleon III, the Bordeaux wine trade cobbled together a classification of the vineyards of the Medoc. This document, part of the region’s contribution to the Universal Exposition in Paris, has enjoyed surprising longevity: today, over 150 years later, it still serves as the pricing guideline for the major […]

Wine Industry Transformation 8 April 2020

Wine has only recently become the beverage of choice for South Africa’s middle class. What was long considered a drink for the elite is now the first choice for 51% of females and 38% of males, irrespective of race or age. Nowhere is this transformation more obvious than at events like RMB WineX. When the […]

Michael Broadbent 1 April 2020

The death a few weeks back of Michael Broadbent, founder and former head of Christie’s Wine Department, marked the end of an era rather than a “changing of the guard.” Born in 1927, and active at Christie’s until 2009, he had first-hand tasting experience of vintages from the mid-18th century onwards. He was best known […]

Wine in Isolation 25 March 2020

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you are working in relative isolation. Social distancing – that euphemism which may become the word-of-the year for 2020 – is a lot lonelier that just keeping a safe distance from other fellow human beings. It is an inversion of our natural instinct (most of us anyway) […]

In the time of Covid-19 18 March 2020

As we batten down and plan survival-in-isolation strategies with Covid-19 now a reality in South Africa, I thought it would be interesting to look at the relatively recent history of wine industry pandemics. There are two useful comparisons – the first the great vineyard catastrophe of the 19th century brought about the arrival of the […]

Expect the Unexpected 11 March 2020

One day a copywriter briefed to produce a pay-off line for the Cape wine industry might try to get away with the old chestnut “expect the unexpected.” He wouldn’t be wrong. A few weeks ago I attended a tasting organised by a distributor handling wines from a number of small to mid-size wineries. There were […]

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