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Crazy schemes

Crazy schemes


Friday, 12 May 2023, 12:53


What will winemakers dream up for their next trick? They have sent bottles into space and sunk them in oceans, but at least their hairbrained schemes usually involved a decent wine as a starting point. So what happens when someone comes up with a crazy idea that has less to do with conventional winemaking and more to do with creating a publicity splash?

Travis Braithwaite is a young South African who has made a 'super wine' and succeeded in getting it to market. But there is mystery surrounding his Pangaea, a five-nation red blend from France, Spain, California, South Africa and Argentina.

Braithwaite did something right: he succeeded in getting renowned wine consultant Michel Rolland on board, a publicity coup that partially makes up for his amateurishness. The next step was to get small shipments of the aspirant wines sent to South Africa for blending, although which wines and where they originate is still a secret.

He decided "not to throw in five producers", nor locations either, even if the customer is spending $500 a bottle.

"I didn't want this to become a project of five different wineries because that's not what it is."

But surely part of the enjoyment of wine involves comparing like with like, for example two good Riojas of the same vintage. Why produce a one-off wine that cannot be compared with anything - now or never?

It is frankly astonishing that someone with a reputation like Michel Rolland should go into business with an inexperienced tyro to market a wine that breaks all the rules.

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