Blog: Chris Brook-CarterSauvignon Bad

Chris Brook-Carter | 2 December 2003

Some sharp opinions have been voiced since wine expert Michael Fridjhon announced that he believed certain South African producers are adding flavourants to their Sauvignon Blanc wines to improve the taste profiles.

The allegations are without doubt serious. But the fact that neither Fridjhon nor the South African Wine and Spirit Board - which it has come to light has been involved in its own investigation for two years - have yet to provide any names of cellars involved in this scandal, runs the risk of tainting the reputations of anyone currently producing Sauvignon in the country.

How widespread this practise actually extends is so far impossible to tell. As our South African correspondent Arnold Kirkby suggests, in his feature published on the site today, if it is merely a "storm in a wine glass" a number of honest winemakers will demand an explanation as to why this has been blown out of all proportion.

At the other end of the spectrum, though, is the possibility that this investigation will end up affecting wine regions far beyond the Cape.

One industry watcher we talked to today said: "Industry sources, in discussing this matter, have pointed out the extent of the food flavourant industry and just how big it is. They say that logic points to the fact that a company will definitely not go to the vast expense of developing these various flavourants for only a handful of winemakers in South Africa."

There are of course other countries in a similar predicament to South Africa where areas get hotter than the ideal climate for producing Sauvignon Blanc. The question then, is Whether the Cape is merely the tip of a far wider practise. If it is, will any any other wine authorities be brave enough to blow the whistle on their own members?


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