With stock markets dropping like flies, I was browsing my sent mail items and noted that a year ago I was offered a commission to write a supplement on SA investment wines for a major financial magazine. I declined as I thought then, and as I do now with hindsight knobs on, that SA wine is not a viable asset class. There are several reasons for this:
Absence of a secondary market
Do SA reds improve with age? – ask Alan Pick. Where are the much-touted ’95s today?
Are SA reds good enough to collect? – influential foreign wine writers say no. I would disagree, but perception and marketing is all;
Is there any respect for age? – restaurant wine lists seem happy to offer current vintages;
Nederburg Auction volumes and prices are static at best (and down 10% this year with unsold lots galore);
Moribund commercial (Sotheby’s) wine auction scene, even WINE magazine abandoned its classified section.
Absence of en-primeur offerings
Kanonkop ran a scheme for several years – now defunct;
The third world SA distribution systems results in manipulation and price fixing with the maiden vintage of Vergelegen V was cornered by a Sandton restaurateur;
Large retailer markups translate to high initial charges;
Quite a few SA reds carry sticker prices of R500 and up – just how much higher can they go?
Shortage of collectable icon wines
Yesterday’s hero can be tomorrow’s zero – does anyone remember Veenwouden today?
Current big names like Cape Point, Tokara, Morgenster and Beyerskloof were unknown a decade ago;
SA oenophiles prefer foreign (French and Italian) brands;
Barkers and shills trading as wine writers have muddied the waters, making recommendations suspect.