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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #149 (article first published : 2006-04-13)

The 32nd Nederburg wine auction at Paarl produced prices which were about 25 percent lower than last year’s figures but which were generally regarded as being a realistic correction after the over-exuberant 2005 auction. In the end, this is good news for the consumer and probably for the wine industry itself.

This year, total sales were marginally below seven million rand - the exact figure was R6,956,180 - compared with R7,5 million last year and R6,7 million in 2004. More wine was on offer this year, a total of 4,350 twelve-bottle cases as against 3,493 cases last year, and the average price per case was R1,599 compared with R2,145 last year.

The auction offers carefully selected rare South African wines, and an average price of about R135 a bottle does not seem excessive, even allowing for the fact that a liquor dealer’s profit margin may be added.

The biggest single buyer was Pick ‘n Pay, which paid R1,617,380 for 1,409 cases. This was followed by Cape Town Fish Market (R850,000), Checkers (R673,000) and Makro (R405,000). Pick ‘n Pay and Checkers have already stated in press advertisements that they are selling their auction wines at cost price.

South African buyers accounted for 83,5 percent of the sales. Bidders acting for Russian dealers spent R258,000. Buyers from Japan spent R197,000 and from Taiwan R81,600, suggesting that Cape wines are making their mark in the Far East.

Predictably, the biggest demand at the auction was for red wines with familiar names. Here are some of them, with the average price per 750ml bottle:

Nederburg Private Bin R163 cabernet sauvignon 1999, R144 a bottle; Alto cabernet 2000, R200; KWV Cathedral Cellar cabernet 2000, R172; Chateau Libertas 1994, R70; Kanonkop cabernet 1991, R358; Hartenberg shiraz 2001, R215; Boland pinotage 1999, R148; Le Bonheur Prima 1995, R100; La Motte shiraz 1999, R134.

The highest price paid for a dry white wine was R233 a bottle for the Mulderbosch Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2002, which comes from the Koelenhof area of Stellenbosch.

Here are some of the other dry whites sold: Nederburg Reserve Chardonnay Unwooded 2001, R122; Iona sauvignon blanc 2004, R147; Weltevrede chardonnay 2001, R108; Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay 2003, R201; Nederburg Private Bin D234 sauvignon blanc 2003, R93; Nederburg Private Bin D253 sauvignon blanc/chardonnay 2004, R79; Nederburg Private Bin D212 Viognier 2004, R107.

The highest price paid on the auction was R19,000 for six bottles of Monis Double Stamp Collection Port of 1948, a very rare item.

The auction was conducted for the first time by Stephan Welz and the opening addresses were given by four African-American businesswomen who are involved in the promotion of wine. I will tell you about them on another occasion.




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