SA’s Leading Wine Producers Talk Strauss & Co’s Vinous Auction Treasures

April virtual live auction features
De Toren Private Cellar, Meerlust Estate & Mullineux

Strauss & Co, South Africa’s leading Fine Art Auction House, founded on prodigious expertise, has become synonymous with top quality art, decorative arts and jewellery. The latest addition to its portfolio, fine wine, is the result of a successful collaboration between Wine Cellar fine wine merchants and expert sommelier Higgo Jacobs. The Strauss & Co April Virtual Live Auction takes place from 11-13 April, with fine wines, in session 1, under the live & virtual hammer on Sunday 11 April at 11am.

Fine wine has been heralded internationally as a consistent and lucrative investment asset and, in times of fragility, fine wine investment offers welcome stability. “Fine wine is made to be enjoyed and has been incredibly well-received at Strauss & Co auctions,” says Wine Cellar fine wine merchants CEO James Pietersen. “As fine wine is produced in small quantities and certain vintages are not easily available, value and demand are continuously on the rise, making fine wine different from other types of asset-backed investments.”

The Strauss & Co auction team is proud to have procured a trio of South Africa’s finest wine producers ahead of the upcoming 11 April fine wine auction, featuring De Toren Private Cellar, Meerlust Estate and Mullineux. We spoke to SA’s top producers to get a better understanding for the wines on auction and the journey that led to this point.

Eddie Turner on behalf of Hannes Myburgh, Meerlust video:

Q: Your wines are some of the most sought-after in South Africa, please tell us a bit about the journey to this point?

A: Growing fine wines on the Meerlust Estate has been part of the Myburgh family tradition since 1756. Long recognised for producing world-class wines, the Meerlust Estate is singularly rich in charm and history. When in 1988, Hannes Myburgh succeeded his father as the custodian of Meerlust, he was the estate’s eleventh owner and represented the eighth generation of his family to preside over one of the Cape’s great estates. Both time-honoured and modern techniques are applied to achieve the potential of the vineyards and soils, ensuring that each bottle bears the hallmark of Meerlust Estate wine. The wines are all made exclusively from grapes grown on the Estate. Today Rubicon, together with its select classic single-varietal stable mates Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, are found in over 30 markets, from New York to Beijing.

Q: Your wines will be going on auction at the Strauss & Co 11 April Auction? Please tell us which you believe to be the most noteworthy lot on auction and why? Why should the bidder place his bids on your lots.
A: Cabernet 1978 was the first wine produced by Giorgio Dalla Cia at Meerlust when the Bergkelder loaned Giorgio to Meerlust to supervise all the wine-making processes in the cellar during the 1978 season. Cabernet 1980, 1980 was a significant year for Meerlust as the estate swept the boards at the annual South African Championship Wine Show in every category it entered: champion red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon), champion new variety (Cabernet Franc) and champion wine-maker and champion wine producer. 1980 also saw the birth of the Meerlust Rubicon. Rubicon 2001 Magnums: the 2001 vintage won the coveted Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lande trophy for the best Bordeaux Blend at the International Wine & Spirits competition.

Q: Please let us know your thoughts on the collaboration between Strauss & Co auctions and Wine Cellar fine wine merchants and how this partnership is serving to build the secondary wine market in South Africa and internationally?
A: We are often approached by fine wine collectors for a value estimate of the wines that they are holding in their cellars and before the introduction of the Strauss Fine Wine auction in collaboration with the Wine Cellar it was purely an assessment based on historical prices plus inflation. The ultimate test of these values is whether there would be customers willing to pay these estimates. Now that the secondary wine market is being established by Strauss & Co and Wine Cellar these prices are not only being validated but it allows wine lovers the opportunity to buy these rare vintages on a platform that vouches the integrity and provenance of these wines through a strict selection process

Chris Mullineux, Mullineux video:

Q: Chris, we’re interested to hear about your vinous journey….

A: When we moved to the Swartland in 2007, the region was not known for fine wine, and we worked hard together with our friends Eben Sadie, Adi Badenhorst and Callie Louw (from Porseleinberg) to bring awareness to the region and the special wines it was producing. It’s been incredible to be part of this journey and to see how fine wine lovers and collectors from all over the world have fallen in Love with our wines. We had a very clear vision from the beginning and have been exceptionally focused on making what we believe are truly Great Wines. We work with special, and often extreme vineyard sites, planted to grape varieties suited to the climate and soils they grow. By farming and making the wines as naturally as possible we are able to bottle beautiful, fine wine that truly speaks of the special terroirs of the Swartland.

Q: And your wines on auction on 11 April?
A: We’ve taken a lot of care to only put lots forward that are special. Our Sweet Wines are made in small volumes and are very rare and highly awarded, so there is likely to be much focus on them – particularly the Olerasay. Our Granite and Schist Syrah’s are equally difficult to find in the secondary market, and they only start to open up and reveal their true character after 7 to 10 years from Vintage. This is an ideal opportunity to secure some Granite or Schist Syrah direct from our cellar just as they’re starting to show their potential. Finally, we’re really excited about the white wine lots on the auction. The Granite Chenin is a classic expression of the textured, mineral wines of the Paardeberg, while the Schist Chenin is our rarest white wine – only having being bottled in 3 vintages to date. The 2013 is absolutely beautiful. The 6 vintage Vertical of our Old Vines white is also a rare opportunity to secure 6 different vintages of a single wine that is our truest expression of the Swartland region.

Q: Your thoughts on the Strauss & Co auctions x Wine Cellar fine wine merchants collaboration?
A: The partnership is fantastic, and well done to Strauss & Co and Wine Cellar for their vision in collaborating to introduce fine wine to the customers of Strauss & Co. Wine Cellar brings their professionalism, expertise and gravitas. With their involvement, bidders can rest assured that all lots up for Auction are Fine Wine that they invest securely in to savor now, or in many years to come.

Albie Koch, de Toren video:

Q: Albie, please give us a bit of background on De Toren?

A: Since the first harvest of De Toren we have always been dedicated to produce quality over quantity. Our goal was to produce Bordeaux style blends that would be very competitive against the likes of the northern hemisphere wines. We have also achieved making consistent quality wines ever vintage …this gave our customers the ease of mind to keep on buying the wines they love.

Q: Which lot would you say is a highlight on auction this April?
A: The magnum lots are always a highlight. Magnums has proven all over to be the best format to age wines for prolong times thus retaining freshness for longer. That 2001 would be the one I would go for ! It was a stunning vintage.

Q: Thoughts on the collaboration between Strauss & Co and Wine Cellar fine wine merchants?
A: This has been long overdue for someone to bring two fantastic professional platforms together to create the proper environment for wines to be shown and sold. For South Africa wines to notice in the international arena we need to have a secondary market, as all other wine producing countries have.

Strauss & Co April auction e-online catalogue: