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Mixed reaction to WOSA tasting

Published:  23 July, 2008

The decision by Wines of South Africa (WOSA) to organise producers by region at last week's Mega Tasting has received a mixed reaction.

Some producers, such as Warwick Estate's Mike Ratcliffe, were delighted with the event, held at Old Billingsgate in London. Ratcliffe said that the attendance was the best he could remember at a tasting.

But agents and importers representing producers

across the Cape were less complimentary. Alistair Morrell of Orbital Wines, whose portfolio includes wineries from Stellenbosch, Wellington and Darling, told Harpers: The venue was good, but I'm not so sure about dividing up by region. I was also disappointed by the attendance from Europe. There were lots of sommeliers and journalists from Europe, but very few importers and distributors - we were led to believe that there would have been a lot more.

Overall, these fairs are great, and I wouldn't want to do

away with them for a minute, but most people don't look at South Africa and think of two dozen regions.'

Catherine Monahan of Brand Phoenix praised WOSA for

its efforts in putting on an incredible' event, but she said that the regional split meant treks round the venue for some of her customers. She added that the new venue lacked the intimacy' of previous venue Lord's.

Oddbins buyer James Forbes was impressed with the tasting, although he added that it was a little early' for South Africa to push the regionality angle and that the Chenin Blanc table was a waste of time, because 95% of the wines weren't very good'.

Journalist Sarah Jane Evans thought that the regionality slant was beneficial to her, and she said she was pleased that she was able to speak directly to winemakers, rather than marketers who don't know very much about the wines'.

WOSA itself was typically upbeat about the event, although it admitted that the decision to group wineries by region sparked a number of strong opinions on the subject'. CEO Su Birch added: The South African wine growers are leading-edge and seriously regarded, and it was exhilarating to feel the positive atmosphere on both days.'