If Standard Bank chairman Fred Phaswana is back from Qunu, he may want to smell Hylton’s roses at De Morgenzon in the Stellenboschkloof and check out all the post-dated cheques from the Platter sighted wine guide he owns (through subsidiary Diners Club) which clutter up the elegant, almost Proustian, interior of Wendy Appelbaum’s tasting Room with a View. Some of them are shown below.
The signatures look remarkably like that of Andy “Big Mac” McDowall, former owner of the guide before it was sold to Diners director Reg Lascaris. Big Mac may have had only “days” of employment left last month, guests at the two million rand Winemaker of the Year bash at La Residence were assured by Ebrahim Matthews, teetotal CEO of Diners, but they sure kept him busy, those slave drivers!
Now while post-dating documents is not something normal South Africans associate with a bank, let alone a biggie like Standard, surely the whole point of the guide for a bankster owner is marketing value? Such obvious manipulation is either gross incompetence or something more sinister. Is it a marketing version of a payday loan? If so, Wendy Apples will be woes.
Eyebrows were already raised at the huge crop of five star stunners this year showing an increase more than quintuple the rate of SA inflation to 80. Last year’s 62 stunners were already a record, but failed to include Reg’s own Boekenhoutskloof. This year, they do.
It’s starting to look like the whole raison d’etre for the guide is marketing icon co-op wines like the wonderful Swartland Syrah-based blend Chocolate Block (also owned by Reg) which got 41/2 stars. In my days tasting for the guide, that meant “proposed (sighted) for five, but no cigar.” In fact its currently being discounted by Woolies (above) at R189.95 which must be a record for any wine ever made at the Swartland Co-op, if my sources inside the small berries, big bucks winery are not mistaken! Of course Woolies would never take a view on possible five star stunners and stock up accordingly.
But some retailers might. One possible scam might be to find out which Diners and Standard Bank directors own wine farms and buy their wines as nominations for five stars are made sighted. Perhaps such information could be disclosed to shareholders in the glossy annual report, Fred? Or a SENS announcement made on the JSE.
For ordinary Standard Bank customers, the game is given away when you seek guidance from Angela Lloyd on her ratings for the denizens of De Morgenzon. The popular DMZ Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wines are left unremarked upon, with a gnomic “await next” all she wrote. With these wines selling out like toffee apples at Hanukka, by the time the next Platter guide is published (if there is one) they’ll be sold out. WTF!