“Gold mine” of rarity on offer at SA’s oldest fine wine auction
With 20 more producers taking part and a resulting 35% increase in wine submitted for the Nederburg Auction selection, wines submitted this year faced fierce competition for a spot in the 2015 catalogue.
Chosen by a selection panel renowned for its rigour and consistency, this year, just 131 out of more than 400 wines were awarded the Nederburg Seal of Approval, and will go under the hammer at Nederburg on 11 and 12 September. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the intense two-day selection process with commentary from the selection panel.
But while only 33% of submitted wines made the cut, buyers are in for a treat. The selection, which includes a vintage that dates back to 1800, represents the pinnacle of South Africa’s rare wine spectrum and means that buyers will be completely spoilt for choice.
“The larger number of submissions obviously increased our judges’ work load during the two selection days, but also gave them plenty to work with in searching for the wines that befits the Auction Seal of Approval,” says Nederburg Auction manager Dalene Steyn.
“The increase in producers submitting was especially heartening, as it shows that the Auction is increasingly being seen as the standard by which to judge rare, premium wines. At the same time, the increased number of entries allows our judges to really cherry-pick only the absolute best, which in turn further elevates the judging standard and hence, the quality of wine on Auction,” Steyn says.
Faced with such a large number is a huge responsibility, says leading wine writer and member of the selection panel Fiona McDonald. “It certainly also gave us more scope to be as selective as possible while keeping the Auction’s vision in mind. The question we all asked repeatedly, to ourselves and to one another, was ‘Is it an Auction wine’?”
This key question is directly aligned with the Nederburg Auction’s Seal of Approval, a unique hallmark that is affixed to each bottle sold at the Auction as a guarantee of quality and authenticity. The seal is an endorsement of the wine’s character, style and offers reassurance for buyers that the wines they buy represent the pinnacle of rare, properly matured South African wines – wines that are available nowhere else on the open market.
So what can buyers expect from the 2015 Nederburg Auction? Panel chair Tim Atkin enjoyed the wines produced after 1994, which he believes reflect a step-change in the industry, characterised by a different style of wine that is more modern, cleaner, and with more fruit concentration. Some of the older wines however held their own very well against their younger counterparts, as highlighted by David Clarke, who described a 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon he tasted as “phenomenal”. “It was youthful, fresh and lively, and buyers will be well positioned to ‘go hard’ when bidding!” Fellow panel member and chair Roland Peens concurs; “Even more so than before, I believe that the rarest and most sought-after South African wines will be on auction this year. I will not be surprised if new records are broken, given the increased realisation in the market of just how spectacular vintage SA wines can be.’
“One of the great things about the Nederburg Auction is the opportunity to buy wines that are at their best”, says panel member Justin Knock MW. According to Knock, South African Chardonnay is showing a real refinement and great textural element.
On tasting the submissions in the sweet wine flight, Tim Atkin was emphatic in his comments that South Africa’s sweet wines are often highly under-rated and, in his opinion, are easily compared with the best the world over. Nederburg’s signature dessert wine Edelkeur, which boasts a string of international accolades for its 1969 vintage, this year sees no less than four of its vintages spanning 1977 through 2007 available for buyers.
The 2015 collection comprises of 61 red wines, 35 white wines, 13 dessert wines, six fortified wines, nine Ports and seven MCCs. A total of 69 producers are represented, including debut participants Anura, Axe Hill, Bloemendal and Pella. The complete list of wines can be viewed on the Nederburg Auction website with the official catalogue available in July.