This was the first time that the auction was held on one day only and seasoned auctioneer David Elswood did a sterling job keeping it fresh and interesting even though it went over time by about an hour. This did not seem to deter any of the serious punters as there was more than enough delicious sustenance flowing. I felt sorry for the poor auctioneers, who must have been starving! Such professionals they were.
I was surprised not to see Miguel Chan and his Tsogo Sun gang there, having been the major buyer last year. The total unaudited figure achieved was R6.3m (a million less than 2016, largely due to the lower literage). Last year saw a record price per litre of R740 (selling 10 200 litres), with this year having only 8 800 litres on hand to sell (with all of it sold) achieving a really good price/litre of R722 - a great result.
Singita is one of the biggest buyers of wine in South Africa, with their wine buyer Francois Rautenbach being one of the slow and steady supporters. He always does his homework, looking into the wines and knowing what to buy and what their value is, and he was very happy with his purchases.
The highest price achieved was for the Meerlust Bordeaux Blend 1978, reaching a whopping R21 000 per litre! Apparently these were the very last 3 bottles of this wine (as far as we know) and will soon be leaving our shores for Angola to their new home.
Another top price tag was awarded to the FMC 2009 - well done to our Chenin King, Ken Forrester, our King of Chenin. Ken was delighted with the R11,000 for 6x 750ml bottles achieved.
The event has been evolving over the years and the new format seems to be tighter and more focussed. The catering, by Zest for the first part of the day, was superb, and I was sorry that I could not stay for the lunch and charity auction, as Roland Peens, the charity auctioneer, in his brightly coloured jackets, is a breath of fresh air! Distell generously matched the R500k raised by the auction, and it now is able to donate just over R1m to their allocated charity sp(i)eel.
sp(i)eel was formed as an arts therapies collective (art, drama, dance/movement and music) to create wider access to the arts therapies as a source of transformation, healing and rehabilitation for communities in both rural and urban settings in the Western Cape. They offer offer vulnerable population groups an alternative form of psychological therapy that is inherently inclusive in its non-verbal, embodied and creative-expressive nature. They work with children, adults, the elderly and people suffering from trauma and mental health difficulties.
The usual fairly long keynote speech was foregone this year (quite a relief) and replaced by a hard-hitting 15-minutes by Michael Fridjhon, who always manages to hit the nail on the head. His take was very much on sustainability of wine farms, and with the great divide between owners and workers being so massive, he is very clear that unless education and empowerment are taken seriously, that it will impact the industry very negatively.
Take heed, and let's ensure that all South Africans benefit from the wonderful wine world so that we can bridge the massive gap between the haves and have nots.