MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Old vines give SA a shot to make it into the New World icon’s league
Rupert-funded project provides the profile-grabbing chance the country has been seeking
The industry’s sages and savants have been trying to find a way of elevating the stature of Cape wine abroad since the end of SA’s political isolation. Inspired by the role played by Penfold’s Grange in raising the profile of the Australian wine industry, many think that what we need is an iconic wine the reputation and price point of which will achieve something similar for SA.
The problem is that you cannot reverse engineer one New World icon from another. Grange was created in 1950 and only began to make an impact in the Australian domestic market by 1960. Three decades later the limited export volumes still traded at a discount to the local market price. Penfold’s persevered, surrendering easy domestic revenue because they wanted to create a multinational brand. In the mid-1990s you could buy Grange in London for about £25 a bottle. In those days the average price of SA wine in UK supermarkets was a little more than £3. Now, despite British VAT and excise increases Cape w...