Wine sales reach R4 million

2009-09-25 00:00

THE reality of the credit crunch hit home at this year’s Nederburg Auction, with the organisers relieved to have hit the R4 million mark by the close of business. The total for the event, which was held recently at the historic wine farm in Paarl in the Western Cape, was R4 021 920, 16% down on last year’s R4,79 million, with 15% of the lots going unsold even after auctioneer Stephan Welz had repackaged some of them into smaller parcels. And this despite the wines on offer being of a markedly higher standard than in recent years.

But the suits at Distell made the most of the situation, stating that “considering the current economic conditions and highly competitive trading environment in the South African and international wine market, the overall result exceeded expectations”.

There was also evidence of a tightening of belts in what has become a highlight of the wine calendar, the garden party in the grounds of the Nederburg Manor House. Although still elegant and stylish, and replete with fashion show, bling and beautiful people, it was a quieter, more sober affair than it has been in the past.

At the press conference after the auction, MD of Distell Jan Scannell said he had at one stage feared they may not even make R3 million, especially when he considered the 30% decline in sales suffered at the two big auctions in the United States, at Napa and Sonoma, so he was more than satisfied with the result. He noted that the Nederburg Auction is a showcase of South Africa’s finest rare wines and said it “shows the trust that buyers have in the selection of wines presented”.

Overall a slight downward trend on average prices was evident across all categories, although results fetched in the fortified wine and port categories showed some growth.

Three supermarket groups dominated the buyers with the combined purchases of the Spar group placing it first with total purchases of R573 770, followed by Makro with R544 880 and Checkers with R410 850. There was a strong international presence with five foreign buyers taking 25% of the total sales. Sun International, the new Taj Hotel in Cape Town and Singita Game Reserve also bought a significant amount of wine.

The average price for a nine-litre case this year was R1 099, compared with R1 270 in 2008. The average price paid for a dry white wine was R842 per nine-litre case, with the top price paid for two wines — Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay 2006 and Vergelegen White 2005 — at R250 a bottle. With the average price for red wine at R1 136 per nine- litre case, a single case of six 375 ml bottles of Chateau Libertas 1959 fetched R23 000 (R3 833 per half bottle), the highest in the history of the auction. The top price for the rare Monis Collectors Port Stamp Collection 1948 was R11 000.

The director-general of the Department of Trade and Industry, Tshediso Matona, was this year’s keynote speaker. Matona said in his address that the role of government is to ensure that the industry is run professionally and in accordance with the best social and ethical standards. “We would like to encourage you, working with ourselves, to find additional, innovative ways in which we can change perceptions about the use of liquor.”

The charity sale raised R208 300 for the beneficiaries, the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa, Mothers2Mothers, and the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa.

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