The international retail availability of South African wine has long been a poor reflection of the diverse and quality of wines that we produce. Time magazine recently commented on this in an article titled Cape Crusaders.
“And the answer to how South Africa can produce some of the world’s best and most keenly priced wines still catch flack internationally is obvious to anyone who has compared a thousand-bottle wine list in Cape Town to the tiny shelf of cheap table wine labeled South African in their local store. ‘We export the crud,’ says a manager at a leading Cape Winelands exporter, requesting anonymity,” Time wrote.
Saying that we export “crud” is a very sweeping statement, but much work is still needed to enhance the image of South African wine and it requires a two-prong approach of industry bodies effectively marketing the South African wine category and local vintners pushing hard to get their best wines listed internationally.
The Time article also spoke about the infamous 2008 comment by wine critic Jane MacQuitty when she “announced in the LondonTimes that several South African reds had a ‘tell-tale dirty, rubbery…pong’ and were a ‘cruddy, stomach-heaving and palate-crippling disappointment’”.
Stellenbosch University investigated the claim and found that while two local red wines did have a burnt-rubber taste it was not specific to varietal, vintage or even South Africa with the taste also appearing in wines from other countries.