Nonconformity – how the SA wine landscape is evolving

“South Africa is still ‘the most dynamic and exciting New World country’,thanks to terroir, vine age, and talented winemakers. And the world is taking notice.” Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin said this in his authoritative 2014 South Africa report, which is still true to this day.

It is this evolution of our industry, one forged by hardships, a wider world view and a return to the soil, that the Nederburg Auction’s 2018 theme “Evolve” celebrates.

A quick glance at the Auction attendance figures over the past five years will show the very encouraging increase in private buyers. Collectors, connoisseurs and wine lovers from around the world are quietly sniffing out pockets of excellence, and going after these iconic wines with a vengeance, as ever-rising prices indicate. Contemporary producers are achieving record prices for their creations as quality and demand increase, collectors and the like are willing to pay a premium for these outstanding and currently under-valued wines.

It is a vote of confidence in the Nederburg Auction as an appropriate platform for curated, provenanced investment decisions.

Those ahead of the curve know, and will tell you, that South Africa is riding a wave of good wine fortune. And while the rest of the wine public might still be deliberating about whether wine collecting makes investment sense, those determined and convinced are not only debating it. They are putting up their money.

There is wide acknowledgement that South African wine has come along in leaps and bounds, and there are increasing calls to right the incessant under-valuing of our cellar creations.

The current level of success for South African wines is driven jointly by the rediscovered mastery of our pre-democracy winemakers; and the more recent accolades garnered by the so-called New Wave of winemakers increasingly unlocking what our terroir really has to offer. In most instances producers are no longer following the textbook one-size-fits-all approach. They are gaining skills from abroad, but literally starting from the ground up by matching the correct vines and blends to the terroir as opposed to forcing vines on the terroir.

South African wine is being recognised as an investment asset class, along with its European and global counterparts. This year alone has seen at least two wine funds investing in South African wine; Roland Peens’ Wine Cellar VIP 2015 Fund and Ken Kinsey-Quicks’ Fine Diamond Wine Investment Fund. The former’s opportunities were sold out within one week. The latter will come to market with its second tranche in late September.

Both of these funds are focussing on the “once-in-a-generation,” “rock star” 2015 vintage, where they have been ahead of the curve and secured these wines, most of which have been produced in very small quantities. This is a massive compliment to and acknowledgment of the dynamism and bold confidence our winemakers are taking in their creations. Jancis Robinson, for one, waxes lyrical about the future of South African wine. She says no other country, possibly except France, can boast such a radical group of young winemakers changing the wine horizon.

It is thanks to these daring and insightful producers that we get to invest in world-class wines; ones that have been selected by global experts and wines specifically selected with further aging in mind. These well-curated gems are being noticed by those with the buying power of pounds, euros and dollars. Locals will hopefully appreciate the current price points before it’s too late.