Friday, October 06, 2017

The 2017 Cape Winemakers' Guild Auction at Spier, Stellenbosch

This was held at Spier again this year and we had to get there before 9am, which meant an early start for two quite tired media people; it had been a busy week. But the excitement on arrival is palpable
We registered and then went through to the lounge where tables were groaning with 'breakfast' items. John fancied this yogurt, fresh fruit and muesli. Lynne had a coffee
Then we went into the next room where all the wines were open for tasting and we met some of the lovely Elsenburg students who were serving them
They are our future in the wine industry and are an interesting bunch; we love getting to know them. They did know a lot about the wines they were pouring, too
We reprised some of the wines we had tasted before and then went back into the main room for a glass of bubbly and to chat to some of the winemakers and wine farm owners who were on tenterhooks and were either terribly laid back or pretending all was fine. It must be a nervous business putting your wine on the line
Pierre Wahl of Rijk’s in Tulbagh with Nick van Huyssteen of Saronsberg and his son
Time to move into the auditorium for the beginning of the auction. We grabbed a front row seat as we wanted to be able to come and go easily
Laid back at the back were R to L Roland Peens, Niels Verburg, Sebastian Beaumont, Gordon Newton Johnson, Pierre Wahl, Jacques Borman and Angela Lloyd
First, the Auctioneer Henré Hablutzel of Hofmeyr Mills Auctioneers has to read out the Auction Terms and Conditions to the assembled crowd of buyers. It is his 20th year and he does a magnificent job. A radio broadcaster present said that he does not know how he does it for the entire day and he never seems to dry or stumble. Suggestion to the organisers for next year: Maybe make a video of the auctioneer reading the Terms and Conditions before hand. It might help save his voice.
And then - it's time - 9h15 - to auction the first lot, traditionally one of the highest selling wines the previous year so the auction gets off to a good start. This year it was Etienne le Riche's turn to be the first with his Cabernet Sauvignon Auction Reserve 2014 and the first lot of six bottles went for R8200
He is so good at spotting the bidders and getting the lots sold quickly
The first sales on the board
Hard at work throughout the auction, tracking the results, the social media etc were Linda Potgieter and PRO Gudrun Clark
Do you just want one lot? If you are successful bidding for one lot, you may take the next lots in the same category as well at the same price. The smaller case lots always get better prices than the larger lots
Chairman of CWG, Miles Mossop, with the two ladies taking phone bids. These seemed to come in fast and furiously this year
Such serious faces!
The first million was reached at 09h45 on the fourth wine which was Newton Johnson's Windansea Pinot Noir 2016 whose 40 lots were averaging R7000 a case. The second million only took another quarter of an hour and so it continued through the day. Gordon looks a bit stunned
Fast and furious
Sartorial elegance in the sock department from James Brown of Hartenberg
And then came on of the most emotional moment of the auction. This was Danie Steytler's last auction and he had named one of his wines The Ultimate Vision 2015. When bidding started, two people at the back of the hall, not sitting together, both put up their paddles and kept them in the air. The total began to climb, and climb. The auctioneer kept taking the bids and when the total got to R16600, they dropped their paddles and the lot went to one of them. It was an astounding price and an astounding tribute to Danie. The entire audience erupted in applause and amazement and there were shouts of joy and cheers. It is an all time record price for the CWG Auction. Tears were streaming down Lynne's face; Danie has been a kind mentor to us in our long journey into wine starting in the mid 1990s and has become a good friend. We always stocked his Kaapzicht wines in our shop, Main Ingredient. He has survived cancer twice. He is a quiet and humble man whom we like very much. It was a very great tribute. There was more. When the successful bidder was asked if he wanted any more, he took all of the four two case lots at the same price
Even Auctioneer Henré Hablutzel had a moment
Danie Steytler looking so happy as he gets a standing ovation
At midday, it was time for the auctioneer to take a small break while Louis Strydom introduced us to some of the Nedbank CWG Guild Development Trust Protégés. We watched a short video about the project which featured some of them
There were only a few of the 10 current protégés present this year as many are overseas doing harvests or busy working at their jobs. To date 24 have participated in this successful programme of mentoring and training. Fourteen have graduated and are now working in the industry. In front of them is the 2017 Auction Charity item, the CWG Magnum Collection, 44 magnums, each one made and signed by the Guild member who made the wine; all of the wines were on auction this year
James Pietersen of The Wine Cellar and Frans Smit (Spier) enjoying the auction
This lot reached R140000 which will go to the Oenology and Viticulture Protégé programme. Here are the protégés with the magnums and the successful bidder.
You can slip in and out to get some lunch in the lounge and enjoy a glass of MCC or one of the Auction wines. Here, enjoying themselves are some of the old guard: Johan Malan  of Simonsig, Distell director Duimpie Bayly and Jan Boland Coetzee of Vriesenhof.  Beyers Truter was heard to say "Ag no, prices are down this year, I got R1 a case less than last year". At which Johan Malan handed him a R100 note!
And at 15h24 the last lot was sold and the final auction total was R13 223 200. Still to come was the silent auction in the foyer, which closes half an hour after the main auction. Sadly, this year, we were not successful with any bids; we have managed to buy some spectacular wines in previous Auctions
A happy and tired auctioneer. The prices were just a little down on last year, (2016 total was R13 833 400) with red wines getting higher prices than the whites, which is normal. Lynne asked Chairman Miles Mossop for his thoughts on the final total. "Satisfied" he said. He had expected a correction as times are tough in this recession and it had not been a bad one. He was impressed at how many private buyers there were this year. We can't wait for next year, when the Auction will be on the 29th of September
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