Podcast Tasting: The Fledge Riesling 2018

Fledge Riesling pix

Though Riesling is not a common varietal in SA, our tasting team decided to tackle The Fledge & Co Jikken Bareru 2018 Riesling, a small-production wine from the Cape Winelands.

Cape Wine Master and Grape Slave Debi van Flymen and Manmetdiepan Michael Olivier shared their expertise with a guest panel of economist Chris Hart, Malcolm MacDonald from Clientele and branding consultant Jeremy Sampson, while John Fraser smiled and sipped, purring gently.

Click below to give it a listen…..

What’s the beef about bacon?

Coming to an outlet near you?

By John Fraser

Thank you, Burger King, for having saved my bacon.

For some time I have been grumbling that the Halaal designation of this burger chain, which I regard as far superior to its fast-food rivals, has meant no bacon in the burgers.

This is annoying to those of us who believe that no religious group should dictate what, where or when we eat.

So bravo to BK for announcing that bacon will be introduced in some of their SA restaurants.

They will also be making an effort to expand their Halaal offerings.

Don’t get me wrong.  If someone wishes to avoid bacon on the basis of some archaic religious dietary laws which were adopted by ignorant middle-eastern nomads many centuries before the hamburger came into being, then I am happy to let this happen.

As long this absurd rationing is not imposed on me.

Meanwhile, one development which I find bizarre and ludicrous is the decision that in future BK won’t call its hamburgers ’hamburgers’.

Nope, they will now be called burgers – on the outrageous grounds that they contain no ham.

That may be true, but shepherd’s pie contains no shepherd (I hope).  Ratatouille contains no rat.  Toad in the hole is toad-free.  And don’t get me started on cumquats.

To try to lean so far backwards in attempting to avoid offence that you could win a limbo competition….seems bizarre.

I think the only thing that will calm my frazzled nerves is a good hamburger.  With extra bacon.

This may condemn me to damnation, but at least this condemned man’s last meal will be bloody delicious.

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Auto sector continues to enjoy Patel’s patronage

Ebrahim Patel

By John Fraser

Minister Ebrahim Patel has nailed his colours to the mast in supporting the SA auto sector and has promised a deeper partnership.

He made his remarks to a recent conference on the auto industry and innovation, which was held at Kyalami and hosted by the auto manufacturers’ association NAAMSA.

The conference was warned that there is a rapid change in the industry, brought on by leaps in technology, but there remains a lot of uncertainty.

Patel, who heads the recently enlarged Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, spoke of “a shift to a different gear in engagement with industry.”

He said technology will reshape how cars are produced, how cars are powered, how cars are driven, how cars are owned, and how cars are connected.

Government recently endorsed a Masterplan to chart the development of the auto industry, with key aims of doubling production and boosting local content to 60%.

“We require a flexible Masterplan, with agile manufacturers, workers who can continuously reskill,” he said.  “7% of SA’s GDP is contributed by the auto industry.”

Areas where there will be a deeper partnership between government and the auto sector should include growing new markets, especially in Africa, with the new continental free trade area (AfCFTA) being the “biggest game-changer.”

Turning to innovation, Patel spoke of rapid developments in batteries and other advances.

“This is quite a profound shift from the internal combustion engine to vehicle electronics”, he suggested.

He spoke of this transition to electric vehicles as a major opportunity for SA, and he said manufacturers must not wait for a consumer market to grow before moving to electric vehicle production in SA, as the export market is growing fast.

As part of the government’s support for the auto sector, it is planning an auto-suppliers’ Special Economic Zone in Tshwane.

One of the architects of the auto masterplan, Douglas Comrie of B&M Analysts, said this is the most significant manufacturing sector in SA, and the stakes are quite high.

He said there is twice as much investment by the big car makers in electrification and shared vehicles as is going into actual manufacturing.

He said future changes are daunting, and we must evaluate what is within our control.

SA still needs an institution to coordinate, monitor and evaluate support for the auto sector, but we have yet to see significant progress on this.

There is tremendous uncertainty over technology and skills development.

The head of Toyota in SA Andrew Kirby, who is also the President of Naamsa, said the industry’s 6.9% share of GDP is significant.

He stressed the need to support local suppliers, including smaller firms, and to bring in the latest technologies.

“The auto industry developed a five-year business plan to 2023 on volume, investment, local content, transformation, and to deal with technology,” he said.

“Last year we made 610 000 units; current plans are to rise to 800 00 units – a significant increase.”

In the next few years, local content will increase from 39% to 42%, resulting in R12.6bn in additional value produced in SA.

An extra 16 000 jobs will be created, mostly in the component sector.  With a multiplier effect, this rises to 46 000.

There will be new investment by manufacturers of R40bn in the next 5 years, some of which will be used to develop black-owned components firms.

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Wine tasting: De Wetshof Naissance CS 2017

Sipping, slurping and spitting away, we launch another ZA Confidential wine tasting podcast, with the 2017 De Wetshof Naissance Cabernet Sauvignon.

Gastronome and glugging guru Michael Olivier introduces the Cape Red to Clientele’s Malcolm MacDonald, brander Jeremy Sampson, economist Chris Hart and Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen from Grapeslave.

Then the panel has a chat on the wonders of wine tourism.

Click below to take a listen….

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Do also check out http://www.michaelolivier.com

Top economist warns of SA being trampled by trade war elephants, the US and China

Ctrack SA - Mike Schussler_Logistics Barometer 2Mike Schussler

By John Fraser

Top economist Mike Schussler has warned that the fallout from the US-China trade war could trample emerging economies like SA.

He was speaking at the release of the new Ctrack Logistics Barometer, which will provide a unique insight into the health and development of the transport/logistics sector in SA.

He said he is already detecting ripples from the global trade unrest.

“You can see the volatility of international trade at sea in particular,” said Schussler, who heads economists.co.za.

“Suppliers like SA are like grass in an elephant fight when the two big elephants fight – when the US and China are in a trade conflict.

“The Hong Kong protests add another complexity, and the Brexit divorce will also have an impact.”

Schussler explained that it has been many years since he compiled a Transport Barometer for Transnet, but said that his monthly data will again ensure the transport and logistics sector will be properly measured and tracked.

“When we measure it, it is 8.2% of GDP,” he said.   “It is as big as mining; bigger than agriculture.”

He also noted the key role the sector plays in keeping trade and the economy flowing.

“The Ctrack Logistics Barometer is our way of providing the transport and related sectors with quality, updated information about the state of the logistics industry in South Africa,” said Hein Jordt, managing director of Ctrack South Africa.

“The barometer allows the business community and media to better understand how the logistics industry in South Africa is performing. With this information, businesses involved in the sector are able to make better strategic decisions.”

C track image

The Ctrack Logistics Barometer can be viewed online at http://www.ctrack.co.za.

As the above table shows, the maiden Ctrack Logistics Barometer shows that for the July quarter, the sector rose by 2.7% Q/Q – above the average GDP growth rate.

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Podcast tasting: Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2016


And we are back……..

ZA Confidential tackles another Cape bubbly, this time the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2016.

Michael Olivier pops the cork for Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen,  brander Jeremy Sampson, economist Chris Hart, and Clientele’s Malcolm MacDonald.

Then John Fraser leads a discussion into the way restaurant wine mark-ups can leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

Click below, and give it a listen:

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Wine tasting podcast – Altydgedacht Barbera 2015

Altydgedacht Barbera 2010

The ZA Confidential tasting team returns to the Cape Winelands for an unusual but delish Italian-style red – the Altydgedacht Barbera 2015.

Man-with-a-pan Michael Olivier adds a corkscrew to his armoury and introduces the wine, with guest tasters Duane Newman of Cova Advisory,  Jeff Osborne of Gumtree Auto, Malcolm Macdonald of Clientele and branding superstar Jeremy Sampson.

There is also a chat about aspirational drinking, and whether South Africans are foolishly forsaking local spirits for imported brands.

Click below, and give it a listen……

Podcast: Yonder Hill Nicola 2015



ZA Confidential is back in the Cape Winelands for another wine tasting podcast.  This time it is a robust red, the 2015 Yonder Hill Nicola.

Michael Olivier uncorks the bottle for John Fraser, branding expert Jeremy Sampson, Gumtree’s Jeff Osborne, Duane Newman from Cova Advisory and Clientele’s Malcolm MacDonald.

After the tasting, there is a chat on marketing SA wines, sometimes by masking their origin.

Click below and give it a listen…..


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Captive lion breeding in South Africa: the case for a total ban

Lion bones masquerade as tiger bones in China.
Wikimedia commons

Ross Harvey, University of Cape Town

A new report by global NGO, World Animal Protection, provides a damning indictment on the captive predator breeding industry. Big cats are being bred for the use of their bones in traditional Chinese medicine. China is estimated to house about 8 000 tigers in captivity, while South Africa may have as many as 14 000 lions. Nontobeko Mtshali asks Ross Harvey to analyse the issues around captive breeding in South Africa.

Is the South African government doing enough to manage the fact that it’s got the biggest number of wild cats in captivity?

No. The fact that it has the largest number of big cats in captivity in the world – anywhere north of 8 000 – across an estimated 300 facilities – is evidence of an industry out of control. It remains largely unregulated.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries admits that it doesn’t know how many facilities there are. Nor does it know how many predators are in captivity.

Captive breeding is permissible under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The trade in products arising from it is permitted under an annotation. But the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – the world’s foremost conservation body – has unequivocally called for its termination.

The South African government has been slow to act against the industry despite significant welfare concerns. These include the fact that regular practices include removing cubs born in captivity from their mothers a few hours after birth. And that they are regularly sold into the captive-origin (canned) hunting industry after they’ve outlived their usefulness, or sold directly into the Asian tiger bone trade.

On top of this South Africa’s legal trade is actively encouraging the consumption of tiger parts, which is imperilling highly-endangered wild tigers. This is because lion bones masquerade as tiger bones in China, where the purchase of tiger products is illegal.

The government’s interpretation that the industry can continue, provided it draws up legislation to govern it, contradicts a set of resolutions articulated by the country’s parliament in 2018 that called for laws to be reviewed with a view to shutting the industry down. There is no room in that instruction for the government to continue allowing the industry.

What are the biggest issues it should be addressing?

In my view, any new law should terminate the industry.

There is a counter-argument to this, that breeding may provide a buffer against wild lion exploitation. But this remains speculative, as the poaching of wild lions isn’t declining. There are probably fewer lions left in the wild than rhinos.

Also, legal supply availability undermines efforts to reduce demand. And the idea that South Africa and CITES can successfully regulate a legal trade in captive-bred lion parts or govern the industry well is a fantasy. The government has neither the will nor the resources to do this.

In fact, it’s not clear that a continued legal trade can have any positive conservation value. The price of lion skeletons would have to be just right –- a Goldilocks price that incentivised farming but somehow simultaneously disincentivised poaching. In an excellent scientific article on why a legal trade in rhino horn will not solve the rhino poaching problem, Douglas Crookes and James Blignaut show that it is always cheaper for a poacher to extract parts from wild slaughtered animals than to farm them sustainably.

Legal trade only works if it crowds out illegal supply, and that is almost economically impossible. It is further compounded by the fact that some consumers are after evidently wild-sourced product.

Finally, welfare considerations of lions’ lives in captivity bestow a responsibility on the government to end the industry. There are no easy answers. But South Africa’s Constitutional Court has ruled that

welfare and animal conservation together reflect two intertwined values.

What useful research has been done to help guide it in its decision-making?

Both sides use research to bolster their arguments.

The government is citing a study it commissioned that was published in an academic journal article last year. It conveys findings from a survey of a large proportion of South Africa’s breeders.

The government has indicated that it takes one finding, in particular, to be concerning – some breeders intimated that they would find illegal channels to sell their skeletons if the government’s export quota was too restrictive. Policy-making to accommodate these threats looks more like a hostage negotiation than a well-considered and impartial plan.

The article also argues that South Africa should continue to allow the legal industry to flourish so as to avoid introducing a price-shock to the market.

But parliamentarians point to a number of reports and a working paper have been published to examine the various problematic elements of the lion bone trade and the captive predator breeding industry. These informed parliament’s resolution to shut the industry down. But they have largely been ignored by the government.

What moral issues should it consider?

If welfare and conservation are inextricably linked, then the industry should be terminated on those grounds alone. But there’s a more pernicious moral issue at play.

Justifying the continuation of predator breeding farms on the grounds that there is no causally established relationship between farming and increased poaching is a form of crude utilitarianism. The utility to be maximised is a limited increase in wild lion and tiger poaching. If breeding serves that end, the means are justified.

This calls us to ignore the suffering of individual animals, which is morally objectionable. Science is not value-neutral, nor is its practice always impartial. It should never be used to ignore ethics.The Conversation

Ross Harvey, Independent Economist; PhD Candidate, University of Cape Town

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Podcast: Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Satin Nectar Rosé


It is podcast time.   Michael Olivier has brought along a Simonsig bubbly – the Kaapse Vonkel Satin Nectar Rosé.

John Fraser is joined on the tasting panel by Malcolm MacDonald from Clientele,  Gumtree Auto’s Jeff Osborne, Duane Newman from Cova Advisory and branding guru Jeremy Sampson.

Click below to join in the fun….