Although fewer wines were on the block this year, South Africa's premier fine-wine sale, the Nederburg Auction, set a new record for the second consecutive year, increasing its proceeds by nearly 14 percent.
The 28th annual auction netted 7.34 million rand (about $657,000 at current exchange rates) from its sale of 963 lots of South African wines. The two-day event, held in Paarl on April 12 and 13, drew 84 participating wine producers, including 17 newcomers. They offered 157 different bottlings, many of them special releases and mature wines, but also, for the first time, wines that have not been previously released.
Some 1,500 buyers, guests and media attended the auction, which also included a high-profile fashion show and a charity auction. Patrick Grubb, who has handled the auction since the first event in 1975, when only 15 wines from five participants were on offer, again acted as auctioneer.
Prices for red wines, which comprised about 70 percent of the bottlings on offer, were up 13 percent overall, averaging 1,310 rand ($117) per 9-liter case, up from 957 rand ($86) in 2001. The average price per case for dry white wines was 682 rand ($61).
The top-selling red-wine lot was six bottles of rare Lanzerac Pinotage 1966, which went for 12,000 rand ($1,073). Other high earners were Nederburg Auction Cabernet Sauvignon 1972 at 8,400 rand ($751) per case, Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1993 and Stellenzicht Syrah 1994, both in six-bottle lots that sold for 2,900 rand ($259) each.
Six bottles Vergelegen Chardonnay Reserve 1999 sold for 2,700 rand ($242), making it the top dry white-wine lot. In the category of late-harvest whites, De Wetshof Edeloes 1998 outsold the traditional best-seller, Nederburg Edelkeur, going for 1,800 rand ($161) for six bottles.
Despite the rand's depreciation of around 30 percent against the dollar in the past year, international buyers only made up about 18 percent of the purchasers at the auction. As in the previous year, most of the lots were sold to local buyers, mostly supermarkets.
--Photo by Matt Stow
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