I’ve been absent dear readers, absent-minded mostly, but also absent from this blog. My apologies.
I have ended my year or two stint writing weekly columns for 2oceansvibe.com, so I will hopefully now be able to focus my efforts back here. Not just for wine, because I have learnt a life of writing focused solely on wine is a life that will make you mad, and also poor.
Much has happened over the past year to South African fine wine. Mostly in that the rest of the world seems to be catching up on what our new crop of very very talented wine makers are up to.
It is delightful to see that we have wines that international wine journalists are now happy to use ‘cult’ before mentioning them. High scores in the important publications, entire columns in national British papers dedicated to us, South Africa, and our new talent. Delightful.
Delightful, but also worrying for anyone who wants to write about South African wine for money. These wines were not discovered because of dedicated South African journalists shouting to the world, no, it has happened instead by the hard work of wine marketers, WOSA, brilliant wines, and trips here by aforementioned international journalists.
South Africans, it seems, cannot discover wines. We write to each other waiting for the British and Americans to do all the discovering. Please do not read any bitterness into this, I cannot be happier. People I have got to know well over the last few years who are making these wines deserve every point and column inch they get. Our finest wines are world class, we know this, the world, it seems, has not.
My point is that what are South African wine writers for? Judging by the recent non-result of the Franschhoek Literary Festival’s wine writing award, not much. I am happy to take the judges decision at face value, and believe that the entries we submitted were not good enough. It is entirely possible that while the judges were looking for a vinous Andre Brink, or a vinified J.M. Coetzee they only found drunkenly plagiarized Dan Brown. So be it.
[The previous post here was my entry, and though the R25k would have gone down nicely, I can understand why it did not win]
The world does not look to locals to hear about South African wine, they look to their own. This makes perfect sense, but with mounting international attention on our finest wines, this may begin to change, and I think there are only two people who are ready to attract such a focus.
Christian Eedes with his updated blog, and switch to the100 point-scale seems ready, and Michael Fridjhon, already an internationally renowned wine columnist, seems to be covering his local bases with Wine Wizard. Sorry, a funny aside. Every time I see Mr. Fridjhon’s site I cannot help but pronounce it like that of a Terry Pratchett character. Wine Wiz-aard. I also think of Rincewind, and his suggestion that all you really need to be a wizard is to have the right look.
Anyway. I think that South African wine writing needs a kick up its arse, and hopefully the non-award will be that. Although, I am still waiting for meaningful feedback from the organisers, so the jury is still very much out to lunch with their fourth bottle Chenin on that one.
We need meaningful, useful stories for locals, and we need to start protecting what is ours internationally. Hopefully with the interest in our wines, international editors of wine publications will look to South Africans to write content about South Africa. I feel this is doubtful, but we knew all about Cartology and Julien Schaal’s wines long before they appeared in a Telegraph column. Maybe it’s because those Londoners have still have never met a nice South African.
Looking at all the bitching and in-fighting amongst the food and wine scribes of this country, this is entirely possible.