I realise that the first rule of the internet is “don’t feed the trolls” but today I just cannot help myself.
I woke up this morning to read Neil Pendock’s post on Times Live
“A dilemma for consumers: ★or ♥?”. It comes across to me as a punt for his wine guide framed as a debate. (I had to wonder if he paid Times Live for the advertorial.) A debate around which guide consumers should purchase. Why they cannot simply buy both and compare is lost on me.
Pendock situates the debate around the methodological differences between his own wine guide, Neil Pendock’s Winelands Guide 2013 and Platter’s South African Wine Guide guide whose 5 star wines were released yesterday. My thoughts on those wines and the new edition of Platter will be on 2oceansvibe.com tomorrow.
I don’t believe that Platter is faultless. I don’t think anyone does. For example, if the taster assigned to a producer doesn’t put forward a wine for five stars then there is no chance of that wine getting top marks. People make mistakes so there will inevitably be wines that some believe should have got five stars and didn’t, and wines some will think don’t deserve the 5 stars they got. I feel that about some wines on both Platter’s list and Pendock’s. It is the very nature of wine competitions and guides. It is the nature of wine.
We rate, judge, and award points and stars to a product that is appreciated and assessed in an inherently subjective manner. To blindly trust a guide is foolhardy, as we all have our own tastes and preferences.
What irked me this morning was that Pendock didn’t offer a critique of the wines that the Platter guide had picked, but rather dredged up the same old questioning of the Platter guide’s methodology. Suggesting, among other points, that because John Platter does not taste for the guide anymore, Platter tasters judge sighted and Platter does not consider price, the Pendock guide is superior.
I already foresee a response from Neil saying he was not deriding Platter, but merely showing the differences between the two. I would buy this if were not for the years of anti-Platter sentiment that Neil puts out.
Neil’s post is simply trolling the wine industry to drum up some exposure for his own guide before it is published . If the Platter methodology is so bad, so faulty and misguided, the results would surely reflect this.
I think it is great to see two guides using different methods come up with a list of top South African wines, but if you are going to attack the methodology of one, you have to show how the results are flawed too.
Pendock doesn’t do this, he cannot do this, because there is so little wrong with Platter’s 5-star results.
I used to really enjoy Pendock’s writing, and I’d stick up for him when other’s criticized. As time has gone by, however, I have seen more and more sniping and negativity aimed at other guides and writers.
So I get really fucking annoyed when I see a post that reads like Neil Pendock is some sort of vinous saint coming to save the South African wine consumer, while Platter is a nefarious, corrupt publication looking to screw the consumer over.
It is very tempting to start going after Pendock’s own guide. But I don’t really care about its shortfalls. I am more interested in the final results. In my opinion (shared by world-renowned and respected wine writer Jamie Goode) the Platter list is superior. This is my opinion based on the wines on the list. Not because I have anything against Pendock, or because of any other specious arguments.
For example, I think Pendock’s list is missing some truly top-class wines. Eben Sadie’s Columella 2010, Beaumont’s Hope Marguerite 2011, Keets First Verse 2010, and the Mullineux Family’s Syrah 2010 are just some of the wines that I think are absolutely spectacular and not on Pendock’s list of 5 hearted wines.
I don’t think that there is anything shady going on. Either Pendock and Coutinho missed them because they were tasting blind – you see, this method has its own particular pitfalls – or, like in the Mulleniux’s case* the wines were not submitted for the tasting.
What is interesting is that Chamonix – Platter’s winery of the year – has their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on both lists. Even though the Pinot’s vintage is different – the 2010 got Pendock’s approval, while the 2011 received 5 stars from Platter – it shows how good the wines at Chamonix under Gottfried Mocke are.
And that, friends, is where the debate should be. A healthy debate about which wines in South Africa deserve the highest praise. A sickly debate about sighted versus blind tasting is a waste of everyone’s time.
I want to know why Pendock thinks the Groote Post Pinot Noir 2009 deserves top honours, and why it didn’t crack the nod in Platter. Was it a style issue? Use of oak? Extraction? Balance? Brett? Labeling?
The debate needs to centre around the wines themselves, not nitpicking about methodologies which teaches the consumer – myself included – nothing.
I have added my response to Pendock’s 10 differences in a separate post. If Pendock were simply comparing the two guides I wouldn’t post it, but he is so obviously trolling by insinuating that Platter is in some corrupt I thought a reply was needed.
*I only mention them because the Mulleniux’s informed me on twitter that their wines were not tasted for Pendock’s guide. This is not to imply the others were. I haven’t asked them.