Since 1997, The Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience has offered wine enthusiasts an opportunity to taste the international benchmarks of the world of wine. Led by Michael Fridjhon, South Africa’s best known and most respected wine authority, and brought to you by Investec, this annual event leads guests along the highways and byways of the greatest appellations of Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhone, Champagne, the Loire Valley, the Moselle, and Tuscany and also introduces them to some extraordinary examples from the Cape, Australia and New Zealand.
"Change and Continuity” will be the theme for the 20th Anniversary edition of this fabulous wine weekend. The three sessions of the programme - starting with the Benchmark Tasting, followed by a Gala Dinner (both on the Saturday night), and ending with the legendary Champagne Brunch on Sunday morning - will visit the great icons of the past and compare them with the examples which today dominate the world of fine wine.
What the 2016 MFWE has in store
We launched the Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience® in 1997 with the avowed aim of ensuring that, notwithstanding the inevitable decline in the Rand, at least once a year wine enthusiasts in South Africa would get a chance to sample the world's best bottles. At the time, the exchange rate was R4-61 to the Dollar and it seemed a safe prediction that the local currency would lose value – perhaps less precipitately than it had in the previous few years. We reckoned that as long as the loss of value stayed within an annual 5% - 10% band we could keep the event affordable and we could live up to our promise.
It is now quite clear that we were hopelessly optimistic. The history of the past few months, on top of the steeper-than-previous devaluation of the past two years, has made a mockery of the predictions on which the weekend was based twenty summers ago. Added to this, the price of international icon wines – in hard currency terms – has increased at least tenfold as the demand for single site rarities has made the calculations of the 1990s nothing less than laughable. Effectively this means that the benchmark wines upon which the whole Wine Experience® concept rests have seen a 4000% increase in the two decades since the first such weekend in August 1997.
The cost of attending has obviously not tracked the same curve – though in fairness, the weekend has evolved and now no longer includes the lunchtime workshop which contributed to the obvious signs of fatigue which all but the most dedicated guests began to show at some stage on the Saturday. Still, we have a surprising number of regulars who have been with us since those very early days and a few who have never missed a single one.
This year, courtesy of the generosity of Investec, it will still be possible (if only just) to host the 20th edition of the Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience® at an affordable price – and to make this landmark occasion all the more memorable by showing some of the wines that were presented over the twenty year period. Included in the line-up will be 1985 Lafite Rothschild (presented at the inaugural event by Steven Spurrier), 1985 Hermitage La Chapelle, 2000 Chateau d'Ampuis Cote Rotie, 1989 Oberemmeler Raul Riesling Beerenauslese and 1989 Domaine Huet Vouvray – all the exact wines and vintages from Wine Experience weekends over the past two decades. In addition we will have different vintages of wines which were considered classics when they were served: Chateau l'Evangile (1986) Chateau Angelus (2006) Chateau Rieussec (1996) Batard Montrachet Latour (2012) Grands Echezeaux Drouhin (2006) and Jadot's Corton Pougets Grand Cru (2006). The Champagne service during the course of the weekend will see several cuvées of Laurent-Perrier including the Tours-sur-Marne cellars’ famous Rosé: the pre-brunch tasting will comprise a number of Prestige Cuvées – including Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle and Cristal - while the brunch bubblies will re-enact the Grande Marque/Grand Cru debate from 2000.
In short, the 2016 Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience® brought to you by Investec will celebrate the very best of the wines and the themes which comprise the history of the event, a then-and-now occasion which we hope will be as unforgettable as the initial tastings which cumulatively make up the memories of the Weekend over the past twenty years.
While there is nothing we can do in the medium term about currency and wine price volatility, we were able to secure some of the wines we are presenting before the exchange rate chaos from December. However, this has meant that we will be financing them for almost a year by the time the weekend takes place in mid-September (PLEASE NOTE THE SLIGHTLY LATER DATE TO ACCOMMODATE THOSE OF OUR GUESTS WHO TRAVEL IN AUGUST). We hope to fund this by encouraging the purchase of advance packages. As a result, we are offering a significant price advantage to the first 36 bookings on the Early Bird deal. (R8950 including accommodation, compared with R10950 excl. accommodation). We hope you will see the merit in this opportunity and join us for what promises to be an exceptional weekend.
Guests may attend the full weekend or may elect to attend either the Saturday or Sunday sessions. Limited seats available so early bookings are recommended.
For more information call Alex or Janice on 011 482 5936/5/4.
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