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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES (article first published : 2003-10-2)

South Africa is outpacing its competitors in its rate of growth in the British retail wine market, according to recently released figures covering mid-2002 to mid-2003. And a similar story emerges from the Netherlands, South Africa’s second largest export market.

Wine exports to the UK grew 25 percent in value compared with the previous 12 months, as against an average of 6 percent for the total retail wine sector. South Africa now has 9,5 percent of the value share of the UK retail market, up from 8,1 percent a year ago, and it occupies fifth position after Australia, France, Italy and the United States.

In Holland, South Africa is now the top supplier of New World wines and has 16 percent of the retail market.

Su Birch, chief executive of the export marketing organisation Wines of South Africa, says this success is based on a quality/value formula which ensures that Cape wines are highly attractive to European buyers. Among the factors that helped was the favourable coverage given in the overseas media to Cape wines, some of it arising from the increased number of visitors to South Africa.

The major liquor event in Europe is the annual International Wine and Spirit Competition, established 25 years ago to promote excellence in the world’s wines, spirits and liqueurs. A company with strong South African connections has fared exceptionally well at the most recent IWSC. This is Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard, the French-based liquor producer which owns the Long Mountain winery in the Cape. Single malt and old whiskies produced by Chivas Brothers won two trophies and three gold medals at the IWSC. Among the famous names of whiskies from this producer are Glenlivet, Aberlour, Speyside, Longmorn, and Royal Salute.

The annual Nederburg wine auction at Paarl includes a charity auction which for years has produced large gifts for the very worthy Hospice national organisation. This year’s charity auction generated a donation of R333,100 to the Hospice, bringing the total amount raised for the Hospice at Nederburg auctions since 1990 to R1,6 million.

Ten unusual items were sold this year for this charity, ranging from an African dawn wine tasting in a hot air balloon in the Lowveld to various wine events with Kanonkop, Lanzerac, Villiera, Fleur du Cap, Zonnebloem and Ken Forrester. Three very rare wines were also auctioned: a 1867 Madeira Classic donated by the auctioneer, Patrick Grubb; a 1863 AA Ferreira Port donated by the guest speaker, Allan Cheesman of London; and a very rare 1791 Constantia dessert wine donated by Michael Fridjhon of Johannesburg in association with WineX. – Michael Green




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