Pendock Unfiltered 5

Friday, 3 December, 2004
Neil Pendock
Neil reviews Dave Hughes' SA Dictionary of Wine for this week's column in response to the author's request for corrections and updates, and finds the publication to be 'a hugely entertaining addition to the wine shelf'
The compilation of the 414000 word, 12 volume Oxford English Dictionary was one of the most fascinating literary endeavors of the Victorian age. The star contributor was a murderer who submitted his contributions from the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Let’s hope Dave Hughes had as much fun putting together this SA Dictionary of Wine. He’s certainly the right person to do it, being a walking/jogging font of information, a genuinely nice guy and with an uncanny physical resemblance (thanks to a flowing white beard) to Sir James Augustus Henry Murray who edited a huge chunk of the OED. As a reference book in the making, SADOW should be as accurate as possible, a fact acknowledged by an author’s note asking for 'corrections, updates, etc.' by e-mail. In response thereto... Some mistakes are of the Freudian kind, like naming a 2001 Cape Wine Master 'Cornel James' which must be part of a bizarre conspiracy to protect the identity of the Widow columnist in Grape Magazine. But since the Cape Wine Academy was 'the brainchild of Dave Hughes' he perhaps has inside info. Either that or the Grape editorial collective comes in for more than their fair share of typos with Kathy (sic) van Zyl 'likely to be the first resident South African' to become a Master of Wine. Other mistakes are less flippant but perhaps more important. Acids have low Ph values and Pliny the elder was not 'a Greek from over 2000 years ago' he was the Roman Gaius Plinius Secundus born in 23AD. The Rustenberg cellar was not 'built to give young Adi Badenhorst a world class facility'; Rod Easthope was then winemaker. José Condé was born in Independence Missouri like Harry S Truman, not Kansas City. And if Hannes Myburgh is 'eighth-generation custodian' of Meerlust, it’s unlikely his dad Nico was 'the ninth successive generation to farm this historic estate.' Dom Pérignon was born in the same year (1639) as Simon van der Stel, the first edition of the Platter Guide was published in 1980 (it was the ’81 guide) and Danie de Wet became KWV chairman this year. After the Swiss International Awards in April, Glenwood Vineyards wines are indeed 'award winning' and are the Duncans Spence and Smith at Rickety Bridge perhaps related? Some of the mistakes are in the spelling department like Fransshoek (sic) while some need updating to reflect changes – L’émigré was sold to the Applebaums last year, Augusta also has a new owner, Glen Carlou is now owned completely by Donald Hess and Clive Torr has left the Cape Wine Academy. Punctuation also has a life of its own with crû getting a superfluous circumflex while château has to do without. Some entries are gnomic in the extreme: 'Anthony Smook wines (Paarl) owner Anthony Smook' is a disappointment for a character with such a Dickensian name but is then redeemed by another, longer entry for Smook Wines (Paarl). TCA also gets two entries, underlining what a problem it is. And some entries are controversial like the claim that Veritas awards are 'the wine industry’s highest awards for excellence in winemaking.' With the sins of commission out the way, those of omission make a shorter list. Entries for Brett, a separate one for the Nederburg Auction and the name for people who collect wine labels (Dave himself is probably SA’s best example) are conspicuous by their absence. And while Isabella may indeed be a red American hybrid, it was also the code name for the infamous counterfeit Moët project. But perhaps that entry needs a whole book to itself. All in all, a hugely entertaining addition to the wine shelf. SA Dictionary of Wine by Dave Hughes, Ampersand Press, pp.299, R185.
Dave Hughes, author of the South African Dictionary of Wine
Dave Hughes, author of the South African Dictionary of Wine

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