Meet SA’s wine heroes battling the dark underbelly of wine tasting world
Last weekend, HDS got to meet the Unbreakable Anita Streicher-Nel, Captain of the South African Wine Tasting team ahead of her trip to France for the World Champs.
Anyone who has watched M Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable will appreciate the fascinating minimalist expression of the oft over-the-top superhero genre. In the film, Bruce Willis’s character, David, is the security guard version of a hypothetical love child born of a tryst between Luke Cage and Professor Xavier. Strength, invulnerability, and extrasensory perception. He could pick a perp out of a crowd with the power of his mind, survive high speed train crashes, and tear car doors off their hinges. What’s more, he did all this without wearing spandex, or positioning his underwear over his jeans. He was the manifestation of an unsung superhero.
After rewatching Unbreakable, (just so that I could hear Mr Glass whisper, “They called me Mr Glass”) I started thinking about Anita and the obvious parallels between fiction and fact. Anita may not be able to catch bullets with her teeth, or stop a speeding train with her face, but she certainly does possess particular powers that are continuously being underrated.
She can identify a Rioja from thirty yards (with the power of her nose), she can find a pinot noir in the dark, and (heck!) she can even tell what a glass of wine is about to say before it says it!
(If you’ve never heard wine speak, you simply haven’t had enough of it in one sitting).
Now, as Captain of the South African Wine tasting team, Anita must sip wine, guess the grape she tasting, pick the country, and the region and, in some cases, the brand of hand soap used by the cellar master during that particular vintage.
Anita may not be able to stop a speeding train with her face, but she can identify a Rioja from thirty yards with the power of her nose!Han, while drinking solo.
Meet the Squad
But Anita is not alone in her gifting.
She is the fearless leader of an entire team of extra-sensory Springbok Suipers (her words, not mine) who have competed against, and bested- South Africa’s most committed heavy drinkers to become an elite squad of nigh-on psychic wine readers.
The local leg of the World Wine Tasting Championship (held at The Taj Hotel in July this year) was open to absolutely anyone with a mouth, which means that team members could’ve come from all walks of life. All anyone needed to do was pay up, and pick up a glass on the way in. Easy Peasy.
Though, it needs to be said that to possess the skill required to sip a glass of wine, guess the grape type, country, and region, one needs to have imbibed (yay, verily) a remarkable amount of wine. Which means that while technically anyone can enter the competition, the final team almost always turns out to be made up of wine professionals.
So while there were indeed a few muggles who tried to make the grade again this year, the trend towards blue bloods continued.
And here they are:
Steenberg Winemaker Jolette Steyn
Spier winemaker Anton Swarts
Anthonij Rupert Wyne’s Marketing Manager Anita Streicher-Nel
Wine PR guru Jeanri-Tine Van Zyl
with reserve member Nkulu Mkhwazani from Shamase Wine Co.
If all goes according to plan, the team will head to Burgundy during October 2017 to compete in the World Wine Tasting Championship Finals. But before they can do that…
Your heroes need you
Like any good superhero outfit, The South African Wine Tasting team is made up of four members, with one reserve (you know the one – always stuck back at the base with a Michael Jackson headset, and some oversized computer monitors, looking nervous).
In October, this team of intrepid sensory explorers is set to journey to Burgundy where they will (ideally) sip, spit and pontificate their way to wine stardom, beating heavy hitters like China, France, America, and Spain.
The only minor kibosh on this whole plan is that the Bat-plane only seats four heroes. Which means that there is the small task of raising funds for the fifth member to be able to attend the competition. Luckily our savvy captain has launched a Candystick crowdfunding scheme to help make the voyage possible.
If you’ve ever lain awake at night, desperately hoping for a radioactive spider to bite you on the nose, so that you could taste wine like a pro, then you need to get on the bus here.
Everyone knows that even Superman needed that annoying kid Ricky to scream out from the sidewalk “Superman, you’re just in a slump. You can be great again!” before he could overcome his demons and become the Man of Steel that we all needed him to be.
Now you may not feel the need to hurl verbal support from the sidewalk, but you sure can toss a few rubles into the bat kitty (a glorious mental image, to be sure). In case you missed the link earlier, here it is again.
About the Author
Jono Le Feuvre is not a bean counter. He is a bean roaster. Bean roasters carry far more street cred & get to speak at bizarre niche gatherings of enquiring-but-unhinged-minds. They also usually have addictive tendencies. When he is not roasting beans he is pulling corks. Or deftly removing screwcap enclosures. But you can read more about him here.