Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Great Franschhoek Bonfire of the Pencils

Last year judges for the Wine Writer of the Year at the Franschhoek Literary Festival (FLF) decided no entries were good enough for the prize money.  John Maytham has again been appointed to judge at this year’s competition, despite some apparently unethical behaviour surrounding his judging during last year’s competition. 

We know, for example, (as do the FLF organisers) that:

-          During judging Mr. Maytham discussed the quality and quantity of entries with a long-standing wine writer from whom he solicited further entries;

-          Mr. Maytham later claimed he had a mandate from FLF organisers to conduct such discussions yet wrote in an email to this writer (after the above discussion but before it became publicly known) that “it would be inappropriate for one of the judges to comment on this matter in private”;

-          The wine writer in question wrote “Please, no mention to or discussion with FLF of my correspondence with John. If he wants to mention it that is his decision…about John discussing the entries with a senior long-standing wine writer could be interpreted as mentioning individual entries, rather than the overall number, which was the subject”. Mr Maytham believes the conversation was also about the quality of the writing. 

However Mr. Maytham may have been caught up in FLF’s incompetence or even – one for the conspiracy theorists - a sinister plot (the rest of the fest appears well run?):

-          FLF organisers rather resented the prize money of R25 000 (but given wine’s macro-economics can be regarded as modest);

-          FLF only invited a handful of writers to submit entries, excluding two of the previous winners, and our most highly regarded wine writer Michael Fridjhon, while two of the three have won international wine writing awards and the third has been short-listed (all of whom entered after a deadline extension, presumably at Mr Maytham’s request);  

-          Despite the presence of outside (paid for?) media and publicity professionals, the only wider solicitation of entries was a request to sponsor Sunday Times to forward the invitation to their two wine writers - specialist publications like Classic Wine were ignored;

-          None of the entrants were advised why one of the judges withdrew, nor of his replacement;

-          Until this year, FLF organisers have ignored suggestions to break down the prize money into different categories and expand on the meagre judging criteria;

-          A previous winner was given permission by FLF to submit a piece from the Classic Wine magazine published in late 2011 (dated December 2011-January 2012), despite the unmistakably clear stipulation that a submission had to be both written and published in 2012.  

-          The 2013 prize money apparently went to charitable causes in Franschhoek but no official announcement, to my knowledge, has been made in this regard.

I won’t be surprised if those writers who were particularly vitriolic (privately at least) in their criticism of last year’s events enter the competition again this year, anyway back to Bonfire of the Vanities.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction Raises R7m for Education Charities

 Brainchild of Mike Ratcliffe, the auction beneficiaries include The Pebbles Project, The MAD Charity and The Click Foundation. Top bids came from Wendy Appelbaum and Charles Banks.

Lot 1 – The Saronsberg Lot – R55,000
Lot 2 – The Jordan Lot – R90,000
Lot 3 – The Groot Constantia Lot – R50,000
Lot 4 – The David Finlayson Lot – R125,000
Lot 5 – The Haskell Lot – R55,000
Lot 6 – The Iona Wines Lot – R110,000
Lot 7 – The Thelma Lot – R130,000
Lot 8 – The Waterford Lot – R160,000
Lot 9 – The Lanzerac Lot – R55,000
Lot 10 – The Ken Forrester FMC Lot – R75,000

John Adam's painting (at auction) raised R460K
Lot 11 – The Val De Vie Lot – R65,000
Lot 12 – The Moreson Lot – R80,000 (x2)
Lot 13 - The Idiom Indulgence Lots – R90,000
Lot 14 – The Paul Cluver Lot – R50,000
Lot 15 – The De Toren Lot – R160,000
Lot 16 – The La Motte Wine Estate & Francois Pienaar Lot – R300,000
Lot 17 – The Relais & Chateaux Ultimate Africa Experience Lot – R160,000
Lot 18 – The Boekenhoutskloof Lot – R130,000
Lot 19 – The Bartinney Wine & Beach Experience Lot – R120,000
Lot 20 – The Vrede En Lust Lot – R220,000
Lot 21 – The Glen Carlou Lot – R80,000
Lot 22 – The Meerlust Estate Lot – R150,000
Lot 23 – The Mullineux & Leeu Family Lot – R120,000
Lot 24 – The Kanonkop Lot – R80,000
Lot 25 – The Delaire Graff Lot – R120,000
Lot 26 – The Dalla Cia Winter Weekend Lot – R110,000
Lot 27 – The Creation Wines Escape to the Whale Coast Lot – R80,000
Lot 28 – The Cape Winemakers Guild Lot – R50,000
Lot 29 – The Villanfonte ‘First Decade of C’ & Large Format Experience – R180,000
Lot 30 – Eben Sadie’s Signature ‘Ammunition Crate’ Auction Lot – R340,000
Lot 31 – The Dylan Lewis Lot – R150,000
Lot 32 - The NY Magic Cape Classic Lot – R340,000
Lot 33 – The Le Quartier Francais Lot -R100 000
Lot 34 – The DeMorgenzon Wines & The Royal Portfolio Lot – R400,000
Lot 35 – The Ellerman House Lot – R260,000
Lot 36 – The Warwick Trilogy ‘Big Bottle’ Wine Spectator Top 100 Dinner Lot – R160,000
Lot 37 – The Klein Constantia & The Test Kitchen Lot – R220,000
Lot 38 – The Glenelly Estate Lot – R450,000
Lot 39 – The Mulderbosch Vineyards & Fable Mountain Vineyards American Dream Lot – R700,000
Lot 40 – Hamilton Russell Vineyards – R130,000

Total  R7 045 000

The Cape Wine Auction Trustees are Michael Jordaan, Ken Kinsey-Quick, Wendy Appelbaum, Siobhan Thompson and Michael Ratcliffe.