Let’s face it, the state of OUR nation is not looking rosy. What the news does not report on however is that what underlies all our bad news is a steely resolve NOT to let the actions of a few get the better of our collective, daily endeavours.
Let’s face it, the state of OUR nation is not looking rosy. What the news does not report on however is that what underlies all our bad news is a steely resolve NOT to let the actions of a few get the better of our collective, daily endeavours (though we don’t mind attending the odd march or protest should the occasion require). It is THIS resolve, rather than the political, financial and social upheaval we’re currently experiencing, that characterises the average South African. After all, we’ve had worse. Neal Martin, in his latest report on the South African wine industry draws intriguing parallels between our current political situation and the state of our wine industry. The challenges we face sound like the opening theme to the 90’s cartoon ‘Captain Planet’: Fire, Water, Sand, Economic Viability (a modern-day Captain Planet).
2017 came with its own set of challenges. In January we suffered some of the worst bush fires ever, the drought turning the fynbos shrub-land into a veritable fire lighter. The result not only included the destruction of the vines, but smoke taint with the potential to ruin whole harvests. We have no water, with (at the time of writing) only about 12% viable drinking water left in our dams. The obvious implication being that our yields will be down this year. Mind you, we’re not the only ones experiencing these extreme weather conditions. California flooded while Bordeaux first flooded and then had no rain from June 2016 onwards. In February of this year the Swartland Municipality approved sand-mining operations in Aprilskloof and Siebritskloof, seriously impacting some of our rockstar wineries including: Sadie Family Wines, Lammershoek, Adi Badenhorst and David & Nadia Wines. This decision highlights yet another issue; the greed of Municipalities faced with the possibility of making a bit of quick money in exchange for some of our best wine land, which in years to come might have cemented South Africa as a world-class wine producer capable of competing with the Old World’s best. Having said that, wine growing in South Africa still doesn’t pay what it should with dry-farmed Chenin going for R2 500/ton, when it should be going for R6 500/ton to be economically viable. It is therefore OUR responsibility to put a premium on our fine wines, to pay a premium for it and so doing stimulate more boutique, quality producers. We should do this happy in the knowledge that we are contributing, not only to our wine economy, but to our future.
Having listed all the challenges we face, you can probably guess where we’re going. It is our very firmly held belief that struggle breeds excellence and even in the face of EVERYTHING this seems to hold true. The sheer number of 90+ ratings Mr. Martin gave out in this latest report only illustrates the point. The Mullineux’s Straw Wine 2016 took home a whopping 97 points, Vin de Constance held its own (even centuries later) at 96 points, while Ken Forrester’s The FMC Single Barrel 2014 once again highlighted why we remain loyal to Chenin at 95 points. We invite you to partake of South Africa’s best as rated by Mr. Martin and raise your glass to the fact that even in the midst of this current darkness there is a spark of hope. Take heart.