/ 10 April 2006

Nederburg Auction prices fall 25% on correction

The average price of wines sold at the 32nd Nederburg Auction over the weekend fell 25% from those attained in 2005, with the market experiencing a correction after having soared 90% last year.

The 2006 auction, which returned to a two-day format and offered more wine versus 2005, also saw the return to prominence of supermarkets amongst the buyers. After slipping down the ranks in 2005, this year Pick ‘n Pay topped the list, while Shoprite Checkers, Makro and Spar also featured prominently in the top 10.

Meanwhile, specialist retailer Midmar Liquors, which snapped up 33% of all the auction wines to the value of R2,48-million last year, came in 13th this year with purchases totaling only R99 700. The Sandton Butchers’ Shop and Grill restaurant, also normally a large buyer at previous Nederburg Auctions, was absent this year.

On offer was an array of 6 449 cases of 156 fine wines from 86 participants, including six newcomers and a new auctioneer, Stephan Welz in association with Sothebys.

Overall sales totaled R6,96-million, the fourth highest to date, down from R7,49-million in 2005. The average price per nine-litre case fell to R1 599 from R2 145 in 2005, but was still higher than the R1 118 per case achieved in 2004.

Commenting on the fall in prices this year, Distell CEO Jan Scanell acknowledged at a press conference following the auction that the market had experienced a correction after prices had soared to “unrealistic” levels last year, amidst a global wine glut and an oversupply of mid-priced red wines locally.

“This year we saw a realistic correction in prices,” Scanell said. “The jump from 2004 to 2005 was unrealistic and may have even scared people away from the auction. The fall is positive-buyers feel they will be able to move the wines again in the market.”

International interest was also more evident this year, with 16,5% of the wines going to offshore buyers, compared to 7,5% in 2005. Notable buying came from Slovakia, Japan and Belgium.

The average price paid for red wine was R1 817 per nine-litre case, with the highest price being R8 500 for six rare bottles of Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon 1966, or R1 416 per bottle. The Absa Top Ten Pinotage collection from 2001 fetched R750 per bottle, Rustenburg Peter Barlow 2001 was sold for R666 per bottle and Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1998 commanded R633 per bottle.

The average price paid for dry white wine was R1 070 per nine-litre case. The top priced wines included Mulderbosch Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2002, which commanded the highest price of R233 per bottle, Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay 2003 at R216 and Iona Sauvignon Blanc 2004 at R166 per bottle.

A rare collection of six bottles of Monis Collectors Port 1948 sold for R19 000, which at R3 166 per bottle was the highest price to date paid for a Port wine at the auction.

For the first time a consumer-oriented group from Boston in the United States was invited to share their passion and knowledge at the auction. Four of the founder members of Divas Uncorked — Stephanie Browne, Carolyn Golden Hebsgaard, Karen Holmes Ward and Paula Wright — presented a unique message of a more inclusive strategy for increasing ethnic wine market share.

They focused on the importance of the US consumer market to the wine industry, where women account for 55% of the wine purchases, urging the South African wine fraternity to try their model of promoting wine with food to enhance wine sales, supporting wine education events, employing more women and people of colour in the wine industry, while keeping the wine message simple and fun. ‒ I-Net Bridge