'Exclusivity', 'prestige' and 'ultimate indulgence' are just some of the expressions that come to mind when a selection of more than 160 of South Africa's finest wines come together with the sole purpose of going under the hammer at this year's annual Nederburg Auction at Nederburg in Paarl on September 16 and 17.
|A final tasting ahead of the sale|
Incredibly, the majority of South Africa's 18 official wine routes will be represented when Anthony Barne MW, the London-based auctioneer from Bonhams, the international fine art auction house, sells off a collection of the country's most prized liquid assets.
Buyers are expected to be local and international wine buyers, including supermarket retailers, liquor licensees, restaurant owners, food and beverage buyers for hotels, guesthouses and game lodges.
Anthony, who takes up the hammer for the second consecutive year, recently tasted the 2011 auction selection line-up and offered these comments:
"Once again I was most impressed, by both the reds and the whites to be offered - the quality of fruit in the wines is of a very high order and from there it comes down to individual wine-making styles.
"Some of these - the Cabernets and Bordeaux blends in particular - reflect the philosophy of the early 1990's when rich tannins, deep colours and oak flavours were the order of the day with Saint Emilion wines from Bordeaux leading the charge.
"The Pinotages were a very enjoyable experience and absolutely vindicated the policy decision to make this variety a South African speciality, rather than marginalising it.
"Chenin blanc, the other variety closely associated with South Africa, was represented by only a few wines, but there were some real peaches amongst them, while the Sauvignon blancs, in their various styles, were a source of unending pleasure.
"I seem to remember commenting last year on how much harder it was to sell whites than reds at the auction and I hope that anyone tasting this year's showing will be waving their paddles vigorously."
Referring to the sweeter wines, Anthony says; "Muskadels are an idosyncratic style, one that I am learning to appreciate, although there are similarities with one of my favourite wines, aged tawny ports.
"Vintage ports and sweet wines, on the other hand, are always easy to enjoy and I had no trouble in doing so, the younger ones full of sweet richness and the more mature ones showing the subtle complexities that come to us all with time."
Last year saw auction prices hit a high note, with overall income jumping to nearly R6 million ($862,000), up 41% from 2009.
Nederburg Auction business manager, Dalene Steyn, is keen to build on the success of 2010 and propel this historically prestigious event firmly into the local and international spotlight.
"The Nederburg Auction is now in its 37th year, which is an exciting achievement in terms of the event's longevity"; comments Dalene.
"As with any longstanding event, the existing brand platform needed to be carefully evaluated and brought in line with the auction's objective to be a showcase for our country's finest, most rare wines.
"The result is a wine platform with a more modern look and feel that imparts a feeling of luxury and prestige - in line with the caliber of the wines that we strive to offer - that still retains the quality and depth that the auction brings as embedded value."
She adds; "The new look and feel has been implemented across multiple levels, including the logo, website, catalogue, and the distinctive Nederburg Auction sticker that is applied to all bottles sold at the event, which serves as an additional unique selling point, giving these wines a competitive advantage that certainly enhances shelf appeal from a quality and endorsement point of view."
The original five producers, who have participated in every auction since 1975, are again represented. They are Delheim, Groot Constantia, Overgaauw and Simonsig, and, of course, Nederburg.
Debuting alongside these stalwarts and other of the country's finest producers are newcomers Ataraxia, JP Bredell Wines, Capaia, Deetlefs Familie, De Morgenzon, De Reuck, Fryer's Cove, Orange River Cellars and Perdeberg Winery.
Dalene concludes; "With a combination of long-established and newer names associated with the auction, we are confident in bringing buyers a varied and impressive spectrum of the country's best-of-best and rare wines, offered in a range of lot sizes to cater to mainstream and boutique buyers."
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