Brandy Bingo: does SA Brandy have Terroir?

Another marketing trick SA brandy distillers seem to ignore is the whole concept of geographical regionality. Last year at Food|Wine|Design my Karoo Kerels brandy bar was an opportunity for Joburghers to taste six different brandies from the Klein Karoo. Spirit from six dorpies: Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp, Montagu, Ladismith, Barrydale and Robertson was showcased. Joburg must have liked it as we went through a couple of hundred bottles and even sold a few. This year we’ll try for a Cognac Corner: Last of the International Playboys décor from Bakos Brothers and a chance to play Brandy Bingo, a game of skill and daring.

lev 615x408 Brandy Bingo: does SA Brandy have Terroir?

The board is a variation of the map (above) of SA Le Vaillant made for King Louis XVI with five notches for brandy snifters and a sixth up north for Cognac and sea monsters. In addition to Le Vaillant’s bovine giraffes and zebras, important geographical information describing the taste of the region’s brandies is supplied. It’s a taste map for brandy.

Guests of show sponsor Sanlam play for free. Others pay R100 and the skill comes in placing six snifters full of spirit in the correct slots on the map. It’s a GPS for Gourmets and pippijollers need not bother. Winners get a bottle of one of the brandies. Losers get drunk. It’s a win-win situation.

Geography is the secret marketing weapon the cunning French use to sell Cognac. It’s a Trojan horse for hedonists. Olly Smith’s weekend shopping list for Cognac in the Daily Mail is a primary school geography lesson: “the most prestigious bottles come from the ‘Grande Champagne’ area, with flavours so persistent they could outlast the director’s cut of Ben-Hur. ‘Petite Champagne’ cognac is less long-lasting but still fine; ‘Borderies’ is uniquely fragrant; and ‘Fins Bois’, ‘Bons Bois’ and ‘Bois Ordinaires’ are a tad fruitier and lighter.” Quality is geographically bound and there are even single vineyard Cognacs which takes regionality to the limit.

We’re predicting that the map board, a set of six branded balloons and of course a six pack of spirit will be Christmas stocking-fillers for grown ups this season.