The 2009 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, held this past Saturday in Cape Town, surpassed expectations considering the current economic situation, setting a new record as buyers spent a surprising 5.2 million rand (about $690,000) at the event. The total tops the $650,000 spent on the 2007 auction. [A preview of the auction and reviews on this year's new wines can be found here.]
The new high-water mark is even more impressive when you consider that it came despite a 10 percent decrease in the amount of wines offered from last year’s auction.
“The producers did make a conscious effort to produce even smaller lots of wines so that they were more exclusive,” said Kate Jonker, general manager of the Cape Winemakers Guild.
The plan seems to have worked, as bidding was particularly fierce for several lots. Highlights included 40 cases of Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Coastal Region Auction Reserve Cape Winemakers Guild 2007 (93, $NA), which brought an average of $575 per 12-bottle lot. Five cases of the A.A. Badenhorst Family Noble Late Harvest Kalmoesfontein Cape Winemakers Guild Coastal Region (93, $NA/375ml) garnered $570 per 12 half-bottle lot.
An influx of new bidders made their presence known at the event, with four of the top 10 buyers newly registered just this year. Overall, 159 buyers were registered for the event, an increase of 59 percent over the previous year. The vast majority were South African buyers, including both private collectors as well as retail shop and restaurant buyers.
The United Kingdom was second to South Africa in terms of buying, with London’s High Timber restaurant, owned by Gary and Kathy Jordan of South Africa’s Jordan winery (known as Jardin winery in the U.S. market), leading the way.
The increased local demand, likely fueled by those looking to capitalize on the waves of tourists who will be attending the 2010 World Cup, also resulted in American buyers being shut out for the first time in several years.