The auction attracted 163 buyers this year, including 18 international buyers. Local buyers accounted for 82% of sales compared to 87% last year.
In total 3 218 cases were sold (701 more than last year) at an average price of R2 609.32 per case equivalent of 6 x 750ml bottles and an average price per bottle of R435. The line-up of 58 wines (the biggest ever) included 35 red wines, 18 white wines, two Méthode Cap Classiques, one dessert wine, a fortified and a potstill brandy.
Alan Pick of The Butcher Shop and Grill in Sandton was the biggest spender at R1 357 600 for the 12th consecutive year with Singita Private Game Reserves the second biggest at R401 200. The top 10 buyers accounted for 45% of sales (compared to the top 10 at this year’s Nedeburg auction accounting for 61% of the total R4.38 million sales.)
The three top selling red wines based on an average price per case equivalent of 6 x 750ml were Etienne le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2010 with R5 255, Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Auction Reserve 2011 with R5 126 and Neil Ellis Auction Reserve Pinotage 2011 with R4 910.
The three top selling white wines were Paul Cluver The Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2012 with R2 890, Cape Point Vineyards Auction Reserve White 2012 with R2 791 and Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2012 with R2 690.
Some analysis. While guild members can be justifiably proud of the huge increase in turnover, it should be pointed out that the increase in average price per bottle was a more modest 14.5%.
What we are seeing here is the fruition of a carefully crafted plan to reinforce the idea that top-end South African wine is worth a premium rather than any sea-shift – Le Riche Auction Reserve at R800 a bottle is pretty much what the likes of Vergelegen V and Waterford The Jem are selling for already.
While the increase in turnover is encouraging for those who care about the interests of the local industry, there’s still work to be done. For one thing, whites generally still seem to sell at a discount relative to reds. For another, the importance of the individual producer’s profile in the market place was again highlighted with the punters seeming to prefer big names.
As Francois Rautenbach, head of Singita’s premier wine programme, observed. “Not all producers were equally successful. I think we’re starting to see a small group of guys pulling away from the pack – those who work their brands and are not just maintaining but raising quality standards.”
What the guild has clearly got right is attracting a wide spread of suitably affluent buyers (prior to this year, private (unlicensed) buyers were not able to participate at the Nederburg auction). As Rautenbach says, “I suspect a lot of the auction wines are sold into private cellars – individuals who are only buying 12 or 24 bottles, the type of people who have reached a stage in life where they want to drink less but better. They want high-calibre wines rather than common, everyday stuff to have at home with friends.”
Does that imply the economy is not in such a perilous state as we all thought? “I think it’s a very small group of people [active at the auction] who’ve decided to keep their older-model BMW X6 or Porsche Cayenne a year longer and drink nice wine in the meantime.”