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Premium wine auctions helping Covid-19-ravaged industry to stay afloat

Belthazar's wine-by-the-glass fridges. Picture sup[plied

Belthazar's wine-by-the-glass fridges. Picture sup[plied

Published Jun 22, 2021


Cape Town - The impact of a series of alcohol restrictions that were imposed as part of the state of disaster regulations in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to an increase in wine auctions by restaurants and vineyards in an effort to stay afloat.

The auctions are giving consumers, restaurant owners and wine retailers access to a highly sought-after selection of wines from South Africa’s finest wine producers, in a competitive environment.

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Last week, over 5 000 bottles of premier wines, including an extraordinary selection of rare vintages mostly from South Africa, were sold at auction by a V&A waterfront restaurant that claims to have the world’s largest wine-by-the-glass bar.

The Belthazar Restaurant’s cellar went under the High Street Assets hammer in Cape Town for reasons related to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to auctioneer Joff van Reenen.

“The pandemic hasn't been easy and restaurants have taken a bit of a hit. An auction like this was the cleanest way to dispose of assets quickly.

“The reaction to the auction took us quite by surprise. We had about 5 000 bottles and in just two days, 200 people registered for the auction and we responded to 150 000 enquiries by sending catalogues and information about the auction.

“We split up the wines into 400 lots, ran the auction over four days and sold every last bottle. It was incredible and I have never seen anything like it. We are now considering having a regular wine auction,” Van Reenen said.

Van Reenen would not disclose the total sum raised as that would be a breach of confidentiality, but he did reveal that the most expensive lot was four bottles of dessert wine from Klein Constantia, Vin de Constance, which sold for over R63 000.

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The most expensive lot was four bottles of dessert wine from Klein Constantia, Vin de Constance, which sold for over R63 000. Picture supplied.

Belthazar restaurant at the Waterfront claims to have the biggest wine by the glass bar in the world. File Photo

The auction firm’s Cape Town director Stef Olivier said collectors from around the world pre-registered for the auction in great numbers as it was not often that such a diverse, eclectic collection with so many rare vintages came up for sale at the same time.

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Wines of SA (WoSA) spokesperson Maryna Calow said: “South African wine has long been gaining traction in international markets due to the exceptional quality and value for money that they offer.

“Each bottle of premium South African wine can stand proudly tall next to the best of the best of comparative categories in the world."

This auction followed in the wake of another auction, one by ClareMart, which featured over 10 000 cases of fine wines from estates like Allée Bleue, Du Toitskloof Wines, Elgin Vintners, Kanu and Nuiba, to name a few.

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ClareMart spokesperson Rob Stefanutto said: “The only thing missing from this experience is the tasting. However, with award-winning wines, their reputation speaks volumes. From the comfort of your home, we take you to the cellar door and will even arrange delivery, so you really don’t have to go anywhere.”

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Cape Argus

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