It is sometimes strange to see how different trends and how media seem to affect our taste in wine. When they aired a popular TV series about Italian food Italian wines and travel to Italy became tremendously popular.
We can see a somewhat opposite today with South Africa.
South Africa has for quite some years been very successful on the export market. The country was for example for several years Sweden’s most popular wine country (the biggest supplier). South Africa exported a lot of “good and cheap” wine, including bag-in-box, but it also sold very high-quality wines, from for example chenin blanc, pinotage (which is not necessarily “smoky”), syrah and more. But in recent years, South Africa has dropped dramatically. It went down to second place in Sweden and is perhaps going down yet one notch in the league table.
What has happened?
It is difficult to know, of course, one can only speculate.
One thing that is certain is that it is not because of the quality of the wines. South African wines are getting better and better. You can today find outstanding wines in South Africa, world-class wines. Top wines, both white and red. Read more on that in the Brief with Tim Atkin’s recent ranking.
One theory is that it is due to a lot of negative press. Not negative about the wines, but for the country, the economy and the society. Some while back a (contentious) report was published on the bad working conditions in agriculture (not in the vineyards though) that received much media attention. There is a lot of writing about the poverty that still exists in the country. On the corrupt politicians who like to call a swimming pool a fire water reservoir. And so on. Negative press.
One forgets that it is a country that not so long ago was a pariah in the world that nobody wanted to deal with. With a little perspective, it is a fantastic development that has taken place, and still takes place in South Africa.
When we then stop buying South African wine because we hear and read so much negative things about South Africa, what happens? Is it to placate one’s conscience?
What is certain is that it does not help the people to get out of poverty and misery when you stop buying their products.
But now, less negativity:
South Africa makes some fantastic wines, not only cheap bulk wine. (By the way, do you know what they call BiB in South Africa? Belleville Briefcase, after the Cape Town suburb of Belleville where the BIB is popular.) They make world class wines. South Africa has a spectacularly beautiful landscape that is worth a visit in its own, a nature and a wildlife that is unique. Lovely weather, especially during the dark northern winter. Good food, with eg their braai, the barbeque which is as much a party as a way to prepare food. And much more.
Support South Africa for example by joining us, Britt & Per, on our wine and food tour to South Africa in March. I promise that you will experience some amazing wines, and an exciting and a little wild country! A memorable experience in many ways. Can one imagine a better way to help a country’s economy, a country and people that much needs it?
Or support South Africa by drinking some of their top-quality wines at home.
In Europe, as we approach the wine harvest. In some parts it has already started in mid-August. Champagne will begin around September 7, some say. It has been a fantastic summer in much of Europe, but not everywhere. Downpours in the Languedoc for example, but not causing too much damage. It looks over all to be a very good year. More about the forecast in Brief.
For us at BKWine it has not been only rest this summer but also a lot of work. Today, exactly today, we hand in two new book manuscripts to the publisher. We are finishing two new wine books in quite a different style than the four we have done so far. They have taken up most of our summer actually, but it has been an exciting project. What the two new books are about? You can read more about later!
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief!
This post is also available in: Swedish