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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES #182 (article first published : 2007-09-18)

Some extraordinary wines will be sold in aid of charity at the end of this year’s Nederburg Auction, the thirty-third, to be held at Paarl on September 28 and 29. They range from an 84-year-old red wine from Burgundy, France, to a current Cape vintage of cabernet sauvignon that is still in the barrel.

Very old and rare wines are bought by collectors in many parts of the world, not, I suspect, for drinking but for keeping and showing. I suppose there is a parallel with collecting antiques or postage stamps. Tea probably tastes better out of a china pot from the supermarket than it does from a valuable silver antique, and it’s no good trying to post a letter with a rare Victorian stamp on it. But the collector has a different outlook. He wants it because it is rare.

So there are bound to be some keen bidders for the bottle of 1923 Vosne-Romanée at Nederburg on September 29. The wine has an interesting history. Vosne-Romanée is a village in the Cote de Nuits in northern Burgundy, an area from which some of the world’s finest pinot noir wines come. A local medical doctor named Arthur Barolet was, to put it mildly, a wine enthusiast. When he died in 1969 he left a collection of 160,000 bottles of wine dating from 1911 to 1966. After his death the collection was auctioned by Christie’s, the buyers being international collectors.

The Nederburg bottle comes from that Barolet collection. The Nederburg auctioneer, Stephan Welz, says this bottle is in immaculate condition. I’m not sure how he knows. I don’t think anybody is going to open it to see if it’s okay.

Anyway, it is to be sold, with the proceeds from this and the other charity items going to the Hospice Association, the Organ Donor Foundation and an AIDS support organisation, Mothers2Mothers.

Here are some of the other items:

A 225-litre barrel of cabernet sauvignon made by Razvan Macici, cellarmaster at Nederburg, from a top-performing Paarl vineyard. The wine will eventually be bottled to the buyer’s specification, with each bottle individually numbered and carrying the buyer’s personal details. If my arithmetic is correct, there should be 300 normal-sized bottles.

Twelve vintage Nederburg Edelkeurs, the sweet late harvest wine that has achieved international fame from its presence at many Nederburg auctions.

The 1962, 1963 and 1964 vintages of Chateau Libertas, the famous red blend which this year celebrates 75 years on the market in South Africa.

A jeroboam of the Rustenberg John X. Merriman 2002, a blended red wine, donated by the Barlow family (Simon Barlow owns the Rustenberg farm at Stellenbosch). And a jeroboam of the Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2003, presented by Etienne le Riche, owner and winemaker of this Stellenbosch cellar. A jeroboam is equal to six bottles.

Five bottles of port, all of them rated five stars, from the Boplaas vineyards at Calitzdorp, in the Little Karoo.

In the main auction, 150 top South African wines will come under Stephan Welz’s hammer, and the event will be adorned by the usual highly popular fashion show, which this year features the following names: Kluk CGDT (a partnership of Malcolm Kluk and Christiaan Gabriel du Toit), Marianne Fassler, Rosenwerth, Philosophy’s Jenni Button, Paul van Zyl Couture, Malick, and House of Monatic’s Carducci and Viyella labels. – Michael Green




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