Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

KWV goes to Ellis and Back

Published:  23 July, 2008

KWV, the South African wine giant which became embroiled in a wine adulteration scandal, as a result of which two winemakers were fired, has appointed three world-renowned winemakers to oversee its winemaking and mentor its winemakers.

Neil Ellis is to join the KWV board as director of winemaking and will head the committee, which will include Charles Back of Fairview, KWV managing director Willem Bestbier, cellar manager Sterik de Wet and Ian McKenzie, former chief white winemaker at Southcorp.

KWV was rocked last year (Harpers, 10 December) when it was discovered that two of its winemakers had tampered with some of its Sauvignon Blanc. The South African Wine & Spirits Board detected unusual flavour profiles in two tanks of KWV Sauvignon submitted for random testing. The tests involved checking levels of 2-methoxy-3-isobutyl pyrazine (iBMP).

KWV chief executive, Dr Willem Barnard, was in London last week to announce what the company intends to do to ensure it never happens again. As well as the new committe, KWV intends to open its cellars to viticulture/vinification students to encourage complete transparency, and is going to support and fund a Wine & Spirits Board initiative to build a history of South African wines with descriptions and flavour profiles of cultivars. The ability to check and analyse will be refined and extended, said Barnard, and KWV may fund the setting up of a third laboratory in the country to provide total traceability.

Barnard told Harpers that he expected the winemaking committee to meet about four times a year. Ellis, Back and McKenzie would be paid as consultants. Ellis was chosen because of his status as one of SAs best winemakers while Back was asked because he is one of the countrys most progressive thinkers.

Asked whether the wine taint scandal had any effect on sales in the UK, Gary Proctor, managing director KWVs UK subsidiary, Edward Cavendish, said that it had not had any direct impact on sales but added that he nevertheless wish it had not happened.