WINE lovers have their preferences when it comes to what tickles their fancy. However, they generally won’t say no to tasting something new or different.
That’s why wine tasting, either at festivals or for those visiting a vineyard, is such a satisfying experience.
That said, the 33rd Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction is almost upon us. Chairman Miles Mossop traces the auction’s history.
“The first guild auction was hosted by Sotheby’s in Johannesburg on September 7, 1985, with a line-up of 18 wines submitted by just 13 members,” he says.
“The first auctioneer, respected UK Master of Wine David Molyneux-Berry, presided over the auction for seven years before it moved to Cape Town in 1992.
“With various auctioneers taking their turn over the next six years, the gavel was finally handed to Henré Hablutzel of Hofmeyr Mills Auctioneers in 1998. This year marks the 20th consecutive year that Hablutzel is part of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction.”
On how it’s grown in the past three decades, he reveals: “In 1998 the guild had grown to 21 members and the auction had amassed a line-up of 28 wines with a total turnover of R1.7 million.
“Today, in comparison, the guild has 49 members representing the pinnacle of South African wine making and the auction boasts a line-up of 61 wines with record sales exceeding R13.8m in 2016.
“Besides the auction’s phenomenal growth in stature, one of the major changes has been the increase in larger lots. The interest by local buyers also grew substantially from 50% in the late 1990s when the lifting of sanctions generated keen interest from overseas buyers, to just over 80% in 2016.”
As for how wines are selected, Mossop says: “All auction wines are selected after rigorous scrutiny in a blind tasting by the members of the guild and tested by an independent laboratory to ensure they meet the highest standards of wine health and measurement.”
On the new additions to the list this year, he says: “Three of our members, Bruwer Raats, Morne Vrey and Carl van der Merwe, make their auction debuts this year. Raats has submitted a 100% Cinsaut, B Vintners Inboet Storie Cinsaut 2016, as his first guild auction wine, while Vrey has opted for Chardonnay with his Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Chardonnay 2016.
“Van der Merwe will have two wines - a red blend and a 100% Roussanne - going under the hammer: DeMorgenzon Gravitas 2015 and DeMorgenzon Roussanne 2016. Sebastian Beaumont is also breaking new ground with the auction’s first Demi-Sec wine, his Beaumont Family Wines Chenin Blanc Demi-Sec 2016.
“In the spirit of camaraderie, a collaboration between Adi Badenhorst and Duncan Savage will see two new blends under the name Love Boat on auction this year. This is also an auction first.”
This year’s auction features 61 wines: 42 red wines, 18 white wines and one Méthode Cap Classique.
Lastly, how has the drought in Cape Town affected the wine industry this year?
He says: “Although the quality of the 2017 harvest looks outstanding due to lower yields, even ripening and a relatively cooler start to the harvest, we have had two very dry years with varying degrees of effect.
“The more south and south-east (Constantia, Hermanus, Elgin), the less the impact as they have had more rain, but the seasons have still been drier. If you move west to Swartland and Darling, the impact is extreme.
“There was little growth of vines in spring and summer, especially where there is no irrigation and tiny yields.
“We will see even an greater impact next season due to lower winter rainfall again this year.
“They are again expecting a dry summer. It also looks like the scheme water from the Theewaterskloof Dam that supplied a lot of farmers will not be supplied this summer, leaving those without sufficient water stored a problem. I expect we will see low yields and variable quality for 2018. But then it is Mother Nature, and not so predictable.”
Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase will be at The Atrium, Nedbank Sandton, 135 Rivonia Road, on Wednesday, August 23, 6-9pm; and at the Cape Town International Convention Centre - Grand Ballroom (first floor) on Thursday, August 17. Tickets cost R300, which includes a tasting glass, and can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za