The inaugural Strauss & Co Fine Wine auction held on Saturday 8 June at Strauss & Co’s new auction venue in Houghton was a ‘great success’ according to chairperson Frank Kilbourn. 78% of the 183 lots were sold achieving a total of R1,339 million – inclusive of buyer’s premium and vat – and a record average bottle price of over R1,500 per 750ml. “These are very encouraging figures, especially considering that this is the first fine wine auction of our annual auction program” added Kilbourn.
Roland Peens, director of Wine Cellar fine wine merchants – WineCellar.co.za – and one of the partners in the fine wine program, commented, “This is an exciting time for fine South African wines and the auction results buck the current economic conditions. We also received excellent insight into which wines and brands are considered auction-worthy in South Africa.” Third partner and curator, Higgo Jacobs said “We are indeed very satisfied with our first step and happy with both the activity on the day and the results. The hard work continues for our long-term strategy in establishing a fine wine trading platform.”
The largest buyer at the auction was Marble Restaurant, owned by Gary Kyriacou. Marble restaurateur and celebrity chef David Higgs said, “We have just returned from the US and it’s evident how the top restaurants elevate their premium wines over there. We are very happy with our purchases at the Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auction and these wines will bolster our commitment to showcase South Africa’s best wines at Marble.”
Most bidders were private clients however, as the sale offered a unique opportunity to purchase mature modern wines and rare icons. Strauss & Co held four fine wine workshops running up to the auction – in collaboration with Wine Cellar and Higgo Jacobs – with an aim to provide education around and access to buying fine wine at auction. The new Strauss & Co ‘Saturday live format’ included an art auction in the morning, followed by fine wines at 3pm. Positive reaction from new and established clients alike, resulted in a full and animated auction room. The Wine Cellar team – WineCellar.co.za – poured champagne and fine wine throughout the day as prospective buyers were able to view fine art in the brand-new Strauss & Co showroom.
The 275ml bottle of Jaubert Family Muscat 1800, a solera-style sweet wine held by the Jaubert Family since 1800 who release two bottles per year, was sold for R51,200 – inclusive of buyer’s premium. This is a record price for a South African wine which international critic Neal Martin scored 99 points in 2011. The GS Cabernet 1966 – now a 20th century South African icon – sold for R34,140, setting another record for a South African wine. Produced as an experiment by then Monis winemaker George Spies, it was reportedly very tannic in its youth and the bottles were given away as gifts. Leading wine authority Jancis Robinson scored this wine a perfect 20/20 in 2015, the first ever ‘perfect’ South African wine.
Mvemve Raats de Compostella 2008, the highest scoring Bordeaux style red in the US-based Wine Advocate, achieved the highest price on auction for a modern wine at R2,845 per bottle. Sadie Family T’Voetpad 2010 achieved an incredible R1,820 per bottle for the rare 3-bottle lot. The second vintage of the oldest vineyard in South Africa produced by legend Eben Sadie, also achieved a record price for a South African dry white wine.
The full catalogue with final auction results can be viewed here