A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
Probably South Africa’s most prestigious wine auction that is open to the trade and general public, this year’s record sales were 8.6% up on the 2011 turnover of R5 286,700, despite 431 fewer cases of wine. The auction also attracted a record number of 54 new local buyers and private collectors, four of whom were among the top 10 buyers this year.
Guild chairman Louis Strydom said: “With the increased variety and superb quality of our auction selection reflecting the great diversity of the South African wine industry, there was more scope for different types of buyers this year.
“We got the balance right between red and white wines on offer once again, which ensured keen interest from the floor right until the end. Unusual varietals such as Nebbiolo and Cinsault as well as stylistic differences within varietal categories such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon created a lot of interest. We were also delighted by the increase in local buyers,” said Strydom.
The auction attracted 148 buyers including 14 foreign buyers and for the first time, 14 online bidders. In total 2,517 cases were sold at an average price of R2,281 per case equivalent of 6x75cl bottles. The line up of 52 wines included 38 red wines, 10 white wines, two Méthode Cap Classiques, one dessert wine and a port.
The bulk of the wines, 87%, was bought by local buyers. Among the foreign buyers, the biggest sales went to Belgium with R266,800, followed by Namibia on R131,400, Denmark on R105,600 and the UK with R101,600.
Three Kanonkop wines were among the eight top sellers at an average price per case of more than R3,000: Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2007 (R3,760), Rust en Vrede Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (R3,548), Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2009 (R3,485), Hartenberg Estate Auction Shiraz 2009 (R3,324), Kanonkop CWG Pinotage 2010 (R3,294), Beyerskloof Traildust Pinotage 2010 (R3,214), Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir 2009 (R3,120) and Ernie Els CWG 2010 (R3,063).
Among the white wines, top sellers were the Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2011 with an average price per case of R2,353, Chamonix Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2011, Gottfried Mocke’s maiden auction wine, at R2,044 and the Cape Point Vineyards Auction Reserve White 2011 at R2,014.
The best performing Méthode Cap Classique, Graham Beck Non Plus Ultra Cap Classique 2008 sold at an average price per case of R1,630. The only dessert wine on auction this year, the Teddy Hall Eva (Krotoa) Muscat de Frontignan Noble Late Harvest 2009 averaged at R1,113 per case of 6x37.5cl, while the only fortified wine, the Carel Nel Cape Vintage Auction Reserve 2010, achieved an average price per case of R1,353.
Over and above the main auction, a record amount of R182,100 was raised on the day in aid of the Cape Winemaker’s Guild Protégé Programme, a mentorship initiative for young, upcoming winemakers. Every year a very special charity item is auctioned off to raise funds. This year’s item, a one-of-a-kind 18-litre 2010 Members’ Reserve comprising a blend of top wines from all 45 members of the guild, was purchased by Annelie van der Merwe of Restaurant Mosaic for a record price of R50,000.
The 52 wines were all made exclusively for the auction by members of the guild to represent the pinnacle of what can be achieved in South African winemaking. The Guild celebrates its 30thanniversary this year.
*US$648,635.04 ($1=R8.84781), £405,241.88 (£1=ZAR14).