The word in the distillery is that the Platter wine guide, now owned by Diners Club, will rate brandies in the 2014 edition – presumably sighted. So stand by for five stars for the expensive ones like Van Ryn 20 and KWV 20 and two stars for the cheapies like Wellington VO. Quite who will rate them is moot, as the current crop of ageing pundits struggles viewing anything over 14% alcohol.
Quite why brandies, which do not bear a vintage declaration on the label, should be rated in an annual wine guide, is a mystery worthy of Wikileaks. Surely a once off assessment will suffice? For sure, there are different batches, but the punter can’t tell the difference from the label. So why do it?
Perhaps its a bid to reverse plummeting book sales or provide extra income for tasters/eye specialists when they sell “tasting stock” as has happened with wine. Or perhaps a Diners Club director plans to market a brandy and is hoping for a Distillery of the Year Award from the guide to match last year’s Winery of the Year trophy – see page 9 in Platter 2012. Or perhaps its to play catchup to Veritas which has been rating brandies for years. Enough questions to drive a pundit to drink!
Or could it be that Diners Club will reverse the long-standing and controversial sighted rating policy of their guide? Producers are already muttering about how the sighted assessment of brands owned by a Diners Club director will work, going forward. An appeal to Diners Club owner Standard Bank is being discussed as the lucrative shame of former owner Andrew McDowell morphs into corporate embarrassment.
But while politics swirl around Platter, when will SA distillers wake up and embrace the international age classifications VS, VSOP and XO for Cape brandy? With European exports to China subject to swingeing duties in retaliation to a recent punitive EU tax on Chinese solar panels, Brics distillers have a rare chance to corner the Middle Kingdom. You don’t need to work for the NSA to note that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is a major shareholder in Standard Bank and hence of Diners Club. Anyone for a conspiracy theory?