In a trailblazing initiative, South Africa’s foremost auction house Strauss & Co has entered a joint venture with leading online wine merchant Wine Cellar and top sommelier, Higgo Jacobs, to launch a Fine Wine Auction programme.
The endeavour aims to provide a transparent auction platform that introduces prospective buyers to a selection of South Africa’s finest wines curated by wine expert and judge Higgo Jacobs, previously chairperson of the South African Sommelier Association.
The quality of the lots will be ensured by the expertise of Wine Cellar fine wine merchants, managers of the largest fine wine cellar in Africa with decades of experience.
Synonymous with top-quality art, decorative arts and jewellery, the introduction of fine wine auctions is a bold new venture on the part of Strauss & Co, which was founded in 2009.
The auction house’s executive chairperson Frank Kilbourn says: “We believe the time is right to elevate South African wines to the same degree of collectability as the visual and decorative arts. We’re delighted to team up with such credible partners in bringing an exciting new asset class to our client base.”
With this innovative move, fine wine will become a key part of the Strauss & Co yearly auction calendar.
Jacobs says: “The application of strict criteria with regard to quality, provenance and rarity will enable collectors to buy outstanding wines with confidence, in a seamless and highly transparent manner.”
Interest in vintage South African wines is at an all-time high, especially as the country raises its profile in the local and international wine market.
“We’ve witnessed firsthand the immense appreciation in fine wine prices over the last decade,” says Roland Peens, director of Wine Cellar. “This coincides with a leap in quality and realisation of some of the incredible gems from the last century.”
Leaders in the wine fine market, Wine Cellar will provide professional cellaring, logistics and fine wine experience for the auction. Extreme rarities such as Lanzerac 1957 and GS 1966 will be offered from assured provenances. And vintage lots will be checked, recorded and barcoded for future trade.
The more recent icons such as Kanonkop, Klein Constantia, Boekenhoutskloof and Vilafonte will also be offered, along with modern greats by the Sadie family. Lots will be sourced directly from leading producers as well as approved private cellars.
“As prices rise, we have naturally had more brokerage requests. We see a serious opportunity for an open-market auction,” says Peens. “No other auction house has the track record and experience in selling fine and rare assets that Strauss & Co brings to the table.”
International praise of South African wine reached a peak last year with the first modern-day perfect score by Tim Atkin Master of Wine for the Paul Sauer 2015.
Eben Sadie was voted Winemaker of the Year in 2017 by the Institute of Masters of Wine, a London-based professional body with an unsurpassed international reputation. This is an astonishing feat considering previous winners produce the world’s most sought-after wines.
Perfectly stored bottles of practically every top Bordeaux wine from the last few decades are available on the Bordeaux, London and Hong Kong markets, while very few vintage wines are traded in South Africa.
“This makes it a highly opportune time to bring our fine wines into the secondary market in a structured and sustainable manner,” says Kilbourn.
Jacobs agrees: “Strauss & Co entering the fine wine market is a strong vote of confidence in the maturity and potential of the South African wine industry and adds an exciting new dimension to it.”
The first Fine Wine Auction will be held at Strauss & Co in Johannesburg on Saturday of June 8, followed by the Cape Town auction which takes place in September this year.
In line with global auction markets and to provide prospective buyers with the best possible access to outstanding wines, Strauss & Co will host a series of educational events in the lead-up to each sale. Led by industry experts, these events will highlight the many benefits of buying and selling fine wine at auction.
More information will be released closer to the time of the auction on straussart.co.za and wineCellar.co.za