The local thirst for wine investing
Albeit from a relatively small base, the interest in South African investment wines is established and growing.
Huge increase in auction prices
This is evidenced by prices achieved at the country’s leading wine auctions. Organisers of the Nederburg Auction maintain that the unprecedented 91% increase in price per litre of wine paid at the 2013 event affirms that the auction’s enhanced focus on quality is paying off with both local and international bidders. ‘What was apparent from last year’s auction is that the buyers were far more informed, knew exactly what they wanted to buy and were prepared to competitively bid [against one another] on lots,’ says auction manager Dalene Steyn.
A record-breaking event
Highlights of the auction included the selling of three bottles of Zonnebloem Cabernet 1973 for R22 000 (the highest price at the auction), as well as standout prices achieved for the Monis Collectors Port (Double Stamp Collection) 1948 (R17 000 paid for a single case of six bottles), Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 (R8 500 for a case of six) and De Krans Vintage Reserve Port 1993 (R7 000 for six bottles).
The Cape Winemakers Guild Auction last October also broke records, with the sales in excess of R8,4 million – the highest ever recorded and 46% up on the previous year.
Private collectors driving trend
Driving these figures are wine collectors intent on acquiring the rare gems that, like any good investment, will grow in value over time. But what about the perception that South Africa’s new-world status demands that wines have limited ageability?
Not true, says Guy Webber, winemaker at Stellenzicht and an ardent private collector: ‘There is definitely a growing appreciation for the maturation potential of South African wines. More people understand that certain areas, such as Stellenbosch, have a pedigree for producing wines that age well. Collectors are increasingly showing less hesitancy to store them.’
Now’s the time to invest
‘The time is ripe for South Africa to play to its strengths in establishing icon wines in areas where it is already forging a considerable reputation,’ concurs Emile den Dulk, owner of De Toren Private Cellar and another passionate collector. According to Den Dulk, whose Stellenbosch wine farm specialises in making top- drawer Bordeaux-style reds, these areas include Bordeaux blends, Port-style wines, MCC wines, Shiraz and Cape blends.
South African wines world class
René Dehn, local ambassador of The World of First Growths, a Swiss- based project focused on selecting the best performing wines from the best wine-producing countries on the planet, is equally complimentary of the calibre of local viticulture, and the merits of putting your money behind the fruits of indigenous vines. ‘South African wines are highly underrated on a global platform,’ he says. ‘The wines being produced in this country can more than hold their own against the very best in the world. They are proving themselves capable of longevity and are of investable quality and, while it won’t happen overnight, there’s no doubt that establishing an effective wine-trading market in this country is only a matter of time.’
The key word, it would seem, then, is ‘potential’ and for those willing to take the chance there exists a real possibility of profit in the future.
‘Less is more when you’re buying to invest, so get hold of the top wines from the top vintages. If you’ve got R10 000, buy two R5 000 cases rather than five at R2 000’
– Geoffrey Mills, private wine collector, Johannesburg
Text: Jocelyn Warrington