What a week for Distell, the elephant in the national tasting room. On Monday CEO Jan Scannell drops R2.2 billion on Scotch. On Tuesday, Business Day calls them a “third world drinks company” and today they refocus the annual Nederburg Auction, biggest event on the wine calendar for four decades. Volumes of wines on offer crash 60% from 28,000 litres to 12,000 with the number of offerings from host Nederburg, SA’s largest premium lifestyle brand, nearly halve from 27 to 15. Confirming a marketing refocus which now concentrates on MasterChefSA and saturation coverage in airports. The event will still be held over two days (6 and 7 September) so proceedings should be less frenetic.
The gloves are off and Nederburg is clearly carrying the fight to the young whippersnapper Cape Winemakers’ Guild Auction , a competitor on steroids, by including items from Swartland icons such as Scali (a 2006 Syrah) and Mullineux. The last named will surely get up the noses of CWG powers-that-be as talented winemaker Andrea Mullineux has recently been elected to the hallowed halls of the CWG. With a 2010 Granite Syrah on offer, there is now a real chance of competitive shopping across auctions, although of course only trade can bid at Nederburg, more’s the pity.
In addition to Swartland Revolutionaries, old guard stalwart Meerlust Rubicon (two vintages) will be on offer plus the finest new wave white from Elgin (Almenkerk Chardonnay 2010) and two impressive reds from Fons Aaldering, the man who made the Wall Street Journal take Pinotage seriously. Preston Haskell, whose New Year’s Eve parties are the most sought after in Cape Town, is offering his Pillars (2007) confirming that the Nederburg Auction has suddenly become fashionable. What next? Eben Sadie to make an Auction Reserve Spanish red blend with Razvan Macici? Charles Banks as speaker? All bets are off.