This is an exciting time for South African wine as the Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auctions, in partnership with auction partners, fine wine merchants Wine Cellar and Higgo Jacobs, will feature the first rare wines from the most esteemed producers Alheit Vineyards, Sadie Family and VilafontÃ©. wines.
Mainly sourced from the producers’ private cellars, this auction offers a rare opportunity to purchase the best ripe South African wines at the October 10 auction. Previous producer-themed auctions in 2020 and 2021 have highlighted companies like Klein Constantia, Meerlust and Kanonkop, offering unreleased vintages and unique lots.
We spoke with Susie Goodman, Executive Director of Strauss & Co Auctions and Roland Peens, Director of Fine Wines, about this meaningful partnership which strives to bring to market large volumes of vintage wines from the SA.
Susie Goodman, Executive Director of Strauss & Co Auctions:
Q: Susie, you are one of SA’s foremost art experts, running the Strauss & Co auctions as an executive director. Tell us about the recent addition of fine wines to the portfolio and how did this integration go?
A: Beyond our expectations to say the least! It was an absolute pleasure and pleasure to observe the development, growth and enthusiasm generated by the wine department. Despite the combination of a few blockages, varying levels of Covid-19 restrictions, and curfew limitation in 2020 and 2021, these challenges have all helped to connect and grow a department virtually, physically, and with a healthy dose of ‘vooma’. “. !
The first inaugural wine auction took place in Johannesburg in June 2019 and eight auctions later we had two incredible âwhite gloveâ sales – in May and July 2020 – a fabulous achievement for an old department. a year ! The White Glove is a fabulous auction term that evokes glamor and excitement, but truly means 100% amazing saleâ¦ all lots find buyers at an auction! All auctioneers dream of having a white glove sale. Having arrived so early is a testament to the care, professionalism, research, market knowledge and passion that Roland, Higgo and Sarah have put into the development of the wine department. The May 2020 white glove sale was held under Level 5 restrictions, with a small team of five in the auction room, a large number of cables and cameras, and “the world” connected to us via a auction console. Our Covid-19 silver liner was that we took Strauss & Co wine auctions to people’s homes and spaces and connected them in new and surprising ways.
One of our strengths as an auction house is the ability to sell across departments, interests, collectors, geography, and sales clusters. The addition of the wine department has been imperative to provide our clients with access to fine wines, wine collections and an alternative asset class. Wine collectors then look further and buy fabulous art, this is the integration we were also hoping for!
Q: How was the addition of wine received by your existing customers? Did you win new bidders and was there an overlap?
A: Wine auctions have been very well received by our existing customers and the expansion of our auction offering has attracted a wider audience. We are very much in line with the international auction houses that have a long history of offering wine among other important collecting areas. James Christie included the wine in the inaugural auctions at Christies in London in 1766. Strauss & Co offered their inaugural wine in June 2019. We’re certainly the new kids in the neighborhood in comparison 255 years later, but it’s good to follow a proven combination. .
The whole world has had to jump on digital platforms, make new connections, pivot to different markets, offers and types of auctions. At Strauss & Co, we have seized these challenges and opportunities to rethink and reshape our auctions into the ânew normalâ in which we find ourselves. This has brought a considerable number of new buyers, developed our market and increased the demand for high quality products. lots at auction. Bringing an auctioneer into your house makes the whole process more accessible. We are no longer defined by location or geographic boundaries. With the current exchange rate and the considerably lower commission structure we offer, for an international collector buying at a Strauss & Co auction this is incredible value. Our reach and expansion has created an overlap of collectors and a significant flow of new buyers, and more buyers from all over the world, entering our auctions. It’s so exciting and a privilege to witness this growth and reach. We are truly part of a global auction world.
Q: Wine auctions seem to be reaching new heights in South Africa, tell us about a recent event?
A: What a privilege to answer this question! It brings me a big smile and also highlights the fun, opportunities and ideas that we are involved with in a fast paced and growing auction house. In our Johannesburg office, we had the opportunity to set up an auction of 90 lots around a theme of Impressionist / Expressionist artwork. The selection of works, all by South African artists, fit under these banners and provided us with a context to makeover, discuss and appreciate a number of our important artists. When we presented this brilliant spring-themed auction idea to the wine department, they enthusiastically wondered: what would that mean in the context of South African wine! ?
They came up with â574 years of South African wine iconsâ. They jumped on the offer of five large lots which, when the ages of the wines added up, produced the grand total of 574! Give the collector access to an incredible history of ownership and context. Leading the pack was the sizable 375ml bottle of Grand Constance 1821. The excitement in the venue, on the phone and with the online bidders was palpable, and the momentum kept mounting! There were fierce auctions on the single bottle from many potential buyers. As the battle intensified, the price kept going up, and the staff all held their breath in anticipation as the bids continued to appear on the internet auction console and came from the telephone bidders. . Where would it end? We have passed R400,000 and records keep dropping! The hammer eventually came down to R967,300 (including Buyers Premium and VAT). Five bottles totaling 574 in years sold for R1 274 560!
An exhilarating moment for novice and seasoned collectors who compete to determine the value of this privileged wine of Napoleon! These are the best times in the auction world, a dream for an auctioneer, for the department and for the seller. I think we can safely say that the Strauss & Co wine department has reached maturity in just over two years and has achieved more than a few of the seals of approval from the auction world!
Roland Peens, director of fine wine auctions Strauss & Co
Q: Roland, in light of this recent sale, how do you think the Strauss & Co wine auctions are helping to build the secondary wine market in South Africa?
A: The partnership between Strauss & Co, fine wine merchants Wine Cellar and Higgo Jacobs brought significant volumes of vintage wines to the market for the first time. Since 2019, we have seen the market increase in volume and price as consumers dictate the price rather than the producer. The increase in trade contributes to the formulation of a market price, which has never been available for South African wines.
Q: And now, on October 10th, another sterling auction features SA’s most sought-after wines by major SA producers. Please tell us more?
A: Our producer-focused auctions spotlight South Africa’s first tier of growers, with Alheit Vineyard, Sadie Family and VilafontÃ© in the spotlight on October 10. Early vintages from each of these three legendary modern South African producers are now scarce as we carry vintage stocks direct from their cellars.. It is surely the largest offer of the three producers on the secondary market.
Q: Can you give us an industry insight on these producers and how they are shaping South Africa’s wine landscape?
A: Eben Sadie is the South African wine evangelist and the wines of the Sadie family are arguably the most sought after wines in South Africa. Around the same millennial period, VilafontÃ© started out as an ambitious luxury wine label with partly American ownership. Alheit emerged a decade later but quickly became the master of Chenin Blanc in South Africa. The three producers offer wines that are always brilliant and worthy of aging and have played an important role in the South African fine wine revolution.
Link to the electronic catalog https://www.straussart.co.za/auctions/catalogue/10-oct-2021/1
Videos and podcasts
Can be viewed on the website – and from each individual lot.
These videos are also featured on the Strauss & Co. YouTube channel.
Wines of the Sadie family Podcast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzORFIEtEUw
VilafontÃ© Podcast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9UPgNAhFu4