Rare wines on the razz

● SA’s finest im­press at Neder­burg, writes Louise Lieben­berg

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Weekend Life -

Wel­come rain failed to put any kind of damp­ener on the 44th Neder­burg Auc­tion in Paarl last week­end, with to­tal sales of R5,26m – and a new record av­er­age of R590 per 750ml bot­tle achieved.

As al­ways it was an oc­ca­sion of el­e­gance and ex­cel­lence: Not only were SA’s rarest and finest wines up for the tast­ing and buy­ing, but first-class fare and ex­hil­a­rat­ing en­ter­tain­ment added yet more sparkle to the two-day event.

Auc­tion­eer David Elswood, of Christies in Lon­don, knocked down 6,700 litres of wine, with East­ern Cape buy­ers like Howard Lip­man and Nico Pit­si­ladi among those wield­ing their pad­dles with gusto.

SPAR East­ern Cape, rep­re­sented by Lip­man, even man­aged to se­cure a place among the top 10 big­gest buy­ers, spend­ing more than R142,000 ex­clud­ing VAT. The East­ern Cape’s sec­ond big­gest buyer was fel­low auc­tion vet­eran Pit­si­ladi, who spent more than R94,000 for Pre­stons.

Other East­ern Cape buy­ers in­cluded Richard Mool­man, of TOPS at SPAR Vil­lage Square in St Fran­cis Bay, and Jef­freys Bay at­tor­ney and busi­ness­man Ernie Blig­nault.

Pick n Pay was the top bid­der in the old­est and big­gest wine auc­tion of the “new world”, ac­count­ing for about 9% of over­all sales with a spend of R464,200.

Elswood is renowned for his wit and be­fore Satur­day’s bid­ding jok­ingly re­minded buy­ers an auc­tion was less like a football match and more like a ten­nis match, where time was less of an is­sue. He then demon­strated his stamina for the full five sets by smash­ing through 90 lots an hour.

Over the past six years the rand per bot­tle av­er­age at auc­tion has sky-rock­eted by an as­tound­ing 424% on 2012 prices – an in­di­ca­tion of the high cal­i­bre of wines on of­fer. The 107 wines from 64 pro­duc­ers were se­lected through blind tast­ing with the panel, led by wine mas­ters Cathy van Zyl and Tim Atkin, tast­ing more than 400 wines in just two days.

Pro­duc­ers showed off their very best wines dur­ing the preauc­tion tast­ing last Fri­day, fol­lowed first by a char­ity auc­tion at which R1,2m was raised for the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion, then by a gourmet braai pre­pared by renowned chef Ber­tus Bas­son.

Satur­day’s pro­ceed­ings in- cluded a keynote ad­dress by Michael Jordaan, for­mer FNB head hon­cho turned wine­maker, the main auc­tion and then yet an­other gourmet feast.

East­ern Cape buy­ers made the most of the two thrilling days of fab­u­lous wine, food and hob­nob­bing. Pit­si­ladi said the auc­tion was very pro­fes­sional and the tast­ing well or­gan­ised – “the best I’ve seen”.

His stand­out buys in­cluded eight cases of the 2012 Beau Con­stan­tia Lucca, a red blend, at R4 800 a case. Beau Con­stan- tia was a first-time Neder­burg auc­tion par­tic­i­pant.

“The berries and struc­ture were stun­ning. I went back three times to re-taste and I knew I was go­ing to buy it,” Pit­si­ladi said.

Lip­man said the auc­tion started with a bang in terms of price: “I thought we were go­ing to see noth­ing com­ing our way but then prices evened out.”

The 2001 Kanonkop pino­tage was among his top buys with SPAR East­ern Cape spend­ing R36,000 on two cases of four mag­nums each.

Blig­nault, at­tend­ing his 18th auc­tion, said be­cause the wines were of premium qual­ity, pri­vate buy­ers like him and his wife, Suzette, were happy to pay up. He also said he pre­ferred the 2018 for­mat with bid­ding on the Satur­day rather than spread over two days.

He bought two cases each of the 2105 Bayede! 7 Icon Chardon­nay and 2004 Neder­burg Pri­vate Bin R121 Shi­raz, and three cases of the 2012 Su­per Sin­gle Vine­yards Pella Mer­lot.

Mool­man, at­tend­ing the auc­tion with his wife, Joha, said he was very im­pressed prices had stayed sta­ble de­spite the eco­nomic gloom. He also noted a phe­nom­e­non of more pri­vate col­lec­tors land­ing bids.

Mool­man bought eight cases of the 2012 Neder­burg Pri­vate Bin Em­i­nence – a vin­tage he de­scribed as ex­cep­tional.

Auc­tion man­ager Da­lene Steyn con­firmed pri­vate buy­ers were in­creas­ingly see­ing the ad­van­tages of in­vest­ing in rare SA wine as an as­set class.

In terms of va­ri­eties the high­est prices achieved per 750ml were:

● Red – R5,000 a bot­tle of Chateau Lib­er­tas 1968;

● White – R833 a bot­tle of Her­manus­pi­eters­fontein Nr. 5 2012;

● MCC – R1,000 a bot­tle of Le Lude Vin­tage Brut Agrafe 2012; ● Port – R7,000 a bot­tle of Mo­nis Col­lec­tors Port 1948; and

● Noble Late Har­vest – R1,500 a 375ml bot­tle Neder­burg Edelkeur 1996.

The clas­sic red wine pro­duc­ers did not dis­ap­point with the likes of Alto, Kanonkop, Zon­nebloem, Le Riche, Neder­burg and Groot Con­stan­tia all achiev­ing high prices.

Ac­claimed pro­duc­ers like Her­manus­pi­eters­fontein, Ken For­rester, Neeth­ling­shof, DeMor­gen­zon, Bloe­men­dal and Spi­oenkop flew the flag for SA white wines.

Even with the weak rand, SA man­aged to re­tain 76% of the wines on auc­tion, with the rest go­ing to buy­ers from the likes of Tai­wan, Ghana, the Phillip­ines and Ger­many.

First-class fare and ex­hil­a­rat­ing en­ter­tain­ment added yet more sparkle to the two-day event

Pho­to­graph: MATT STOW

ALL THE STOPS: An ele­gant lunch tra­di­tion­ally fol­lows the Neder­burg auc­tion of rare and fine wines in Paarl

Pho­to­graph: LOUISE LIEBEN­BERG Pho­to­graph: MATT STOW

AS­TUTE BID­DER: Nico Pit­si­ladi from Pre­stons makes his pres­ence felt at the Neder­burg auc­tion of rare and iconic wine

ROYAL RED: Suzette Blig­nault from Jef­freys Bay catches up with Chris­telle Schalk­wyk, left, and Bonny van der Merwe of Bayede! Wines

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