Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group praises KWV's response to wine cheats

Friday, 10 December, 2004
HWB Communications
The Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group pleased that the issue has finally been exposed and the culprits punished.
KWV's dismissal of two of its wine makers who added flavourants to their 2004 wines has been applauded by the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group. 'This kind of cheating fundamentally devalues wine and the South African brand and is completely illegal,' said a spokesperson for the 70-member association that held an emergency meeting on Tuesday following the revelations. 'We actually motivated research into this issue 18 months before Business Day's Michael Fridjhon first drew attention to it a year ago. We asked Winetech to allocate funds for research as we suspected a few individual wines of being artificially enhanced,' the spokesperson added. 'Sauvignon Blanc is probably the most terroir-dependent of all cultivars. We find that the desirable methoxypyrazines, a natural green pepper-type flavour, are usually found in higher concentrations in grapes from cooler regions like Durbanville, Elgin and Constantia,' the spokesperson explained. 'Through careful site selection and canopy management techniques, warmer areas can increase their methoxypyrazines levels in cooler harvests. Large volume production with massive presentation of these flavours from hot areas is therefore unlikely and naturally suspicious,' he said. The Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group said it was pleased that the issue has finally been exposed and the culprits punished. 'This kind of behaviour has massive implications for the wine industry both locally and abroad,' he said. 'We don't want consumers to question the trustworthiness of our wines on the basis of a few individuals behaving unethically. We have shown that we can produce some of the best Sauvignon Blanc’s in the world without having to resort to adding flavourants.' He added: 'The industry has to be pro-active in rooting out issues that bring South African wine into disrepute. As ethical wine makers, we want to protect the name of this increasingly popular cultivar. 'We've already stopped legislation that would have allowed flavoured wines to carry the cultivar name on its label. Now we need to work with Winetech to develop further stategies to identify and stop all future illegal behaviour.' The Laborie Sauvignon Blanc won the John Mcdonald Trophy at the Young Wine Show 2004. It, along with the KWV Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, will be destroyed. The Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group applauds KWV's transparent handling of the matter. 'This has sent out a strong message that cheating will not be tolerated and that there is a need for the authorities to ensure checks and balances are put in place to deter unethical wine making.' Ends Issued by HWB Communications Contact: Glenda Nevill Tel: 021 462 0416 Cell: 083 293 4827 On behalf of the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group Contact: Bernhard Weller Cell: 083 455 1043