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South Africa fine wine buyers break auction record

South Africa has continued to build its reputation for fine wine after the country's second record-breaking auction within two months raised more than ZAR8.4m (US$843,000).

The 14.5% increase in the price paid per litre at the 29th Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction was more modest than the 91% surge seen at the annual Nederburg auction in September. But, the figures underline rising interest in premium South African wines among both domestic and overseas buyers.

Total takings at the event, held at Spier in Stellenbosch, rose by 46% on 2012. A case of Hartenburg Auction Reserve Shiraz 2010 was the top lot, fetching a record-breaking ZAR6,200 (US$622).

Cape Winemakers Guild chairman Jeff Grier said the auction’s growth was ‘testimony to the high quality standards of our auction wines’.

In all, 3,218 cases of wine were sold to a record 163 buyers at an average price of ZAR2,609 per case, or ZAR435 per bottle. Alan Pick, of The Butcher Shop and Grill in Sandton, Johannesburg, spent around ZAR1.3m to make him the top buyer for the 12th consecutive year.

Of the 58 wines sold, 35 were red and 18 white. There were also two Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wines, one dessert wine, one ‘port’ and one pot still brandy.

South African buyers accounted for 82% of receipts at the Guild auction. The UK led overseas buyers with nearly ZAR0.5m spent, followed by Denmark on nearly ZAR0.3m and Belgium on just over ZAR0.2m.

The stats highlight that South Africa is still building its fine wine reputation on the international stage.

‘High-quality South African wine is not as widely available as it deserves,’ Trevor Stirling, senior drinks analyst for Sanford Bernstein, said in a note this week.

South African drinks group Distell recently launched a fine wine business division called Cape Legends, to push exports to Europe, Asia and the US.

Written by Richard Woodard

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