Through the grapevine: Q&A with Higgo Jacobs

Through the grapevine: Q&A with Higgo Jacobs

Just as SA’s finest wines are about to go under the hammer at Strauss & Co’s first Cape Town Fine Wine Auction on September 14, we caught up with wine authority Higgo Jacobs on the vinous path ahead for his ground-breaking joint venture with the leading auction house and Wine Cellar fine wine merchants (WineCellar.co.za).

Tell us about your penchant for wine and the 20-year journey that led you to become partner and curator.

I have always been drawn to the beauty that sets fine wines apart from the vast majority of wine that sits more comfortably in the fast-moving consumer goods category.

Wines at the very top end are shaped by seasons, places and people. This is what I have learnt from my time in the industry. Whether working a harvest, selling in retail, or on the restaurant floor, I was drawn to the intrigue of the world’s best wines.

I am clearly not alone in my conviction that South Africa’s finest wines belong in the dialogue of international fine wine, but unfortunately, commercially speaking, it is not.

After coordinating the selection process of the Nederburg Auction since 2011, I became increasingly convinced that the establishment of a secondary market and promotion of the age-ability of our wines has a large role to play in unlocking our potential at the top.

Numerous conversations with Roland Peens of Wine Cellar happened since 2016 with dreams of a new auction, and when I was introduced to Frank Kilbourn and Strauss came on board there was no looking back.

Remarkable times for SA wine and for our secondary wine market. Share some insights?

Many international commentators have said SA is the most exciting wine producing country in the world. The reason for this is the camaraderie among young winemakers exploring and unlocking the potential of our very diverse vineyard landscape.

One has to be realistic and mention that this is not the easiest of times to launch a new platform in the luxury goods sector, but when isolating the momentum purely in South African fine wine, the time is right to move now.

Launching something like this has tremendous challenges, many unforeseen, but we have the tools and expertise to adapt to challenges.

Ahead of the Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auction set to be held at the Westin, please elaborate on ‘Fine Wine Week’?

In the lead-up to the auction we’ve put together a series of fine wine experiences, running from September 10-13, which serve to highlight our most remarkable auction lots.

Among these experiences is the Marquis Event, a hedonistic ‘First Growth Bordeaux’ dinner at FYN restaurant, focusing on the 1998 First Growth lot.

Then, Master of Wine Tim Atkin will host a public tasting of his 95+ point wines, poured by South Africa’s leading winemakers themselves. Wine Cellar Director Roland and I will also present a Fine Wine Workshop.

Tell us about one of your highlights?

It’s exciting to be hosting award-winning wine writer Tim Atkin at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town on September 13. You’ll taste South Africa’s finest young wines, poured by the winemakers themselves, at R500 per person. Tim will also present his winners, such as winemaker of the year.

For more information visit www.winecellar. co.za/auction

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