Following last week's assurances that the 2003 KWV Reserve Sauvignon Blanc "has been tested and is clean", South African winery KWV faces the enormous task of winning back public trust after tests revealed that it isn't, reports Kim Hunter Gordon.
Last week, the company admitted that its 2004 Laborie Sauvignon Blanc and a lot destined for the 2004 KWV Reserve Sauvignon Blanc were contaminated with flavourants by two wine makers, Gideon Theron and Ian Nieuwoudt.
Theron, who added natural extract of green peppers to the wine, later told the press that he had not acted to boost his "personal ego" but instead to "experiment". He admitted that he had broken the rules, but was keen to emphasise that it was not an artificial flavourant that he had added. Tests confirm that the 2003 vintage of his wine, the Laborie Sauvignon Blanc, was not illegally treated.
Nieuwoudt, who added a synthetic flavourant, won double gold at the Veritas awards for the 2003 wine that is now revealed to have also contained the illegal additives. The wine has been on the market for almost a year and has sold out with the exception of a few bottles that KWV has immediately withdrawn.
The South African Wine and Spirits Board (WSB) contacted KWV CEO Dr Willem Barnard in October of this year after having found illegal additives in samples of 2004 KWV wines. Barnard hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers to carry out an investigation that lasted two months.
When KWV spoke to BeverageDaily.com on Tuesday, it said that Nieuwoudt's 2003 KWV Reserve Sauvignon Blanc had been tested and found to be "clean".
While it seems unlikely that the company would deliberately seek to mislead over the quality of its 2003 vintage - especially after the damage already been done following revelations about the 2004 - the statement suggests that the efficacy of the auditor's investigation, or at least the internal communication structure at KWV, leaves a lot to be desired.