Exclusivity and philanthropy

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

“I coulda been a contender…” is one of Marlon Brando’s most famously-quoted lines from his Oscar-winning Best Actor performance in On the Waterfront. One week on from the red carpet glamour of the 2014 Academy Awards, the inaugural AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction will be held at Delaire Graff in Stellenbosch. Is this the event which places South Africa on the vinous philanthropic map as a serious contender?

Time will tell – but already the omens are good. All 250 tickets – at R3 000 each – have been snapped up and it’s estimated that 20% of all attendees are foreigners. Not only that, but hundreds of thousands of rands in online bids have already been lodged!

Auction ambassadors of the calibre of Madame de Lencquesaing, former Bordeaux super-second chatelaine, Wendy Appelbaum, Zelma Long and Phil Freese, as well as Charles Banks, La Motte’s Hein Koegelenberg, Eben Sadie and others have thrown their respective weight behind the project which was mooted by Warwick MD Mike Ratcliffe.

“The South African wine fraternity doesn’t have a true headline social event that members of the public can get involved in – and philanthropy is a great rallying point from which to start,” he said.

Modelled on similar philanthropic events such as the Hospice de Beaune in France and the renowned Napa Valley auction, the raison d’être of the AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction is to raise money for educational projects. Three have already been earmarked by the Auction Trust – the Pebbles Project, MAD (Make a Difference) and the Click Foundation.

“We need to hit it out of the park on the weekend of March 14 and 15 and I believe we can – and will,” said the ever bullish Ratcliffe.

“Although the tickets are already sold out, there’s no barrier to entry. Anyone can participate in the minute-by-minute action with a live online feed which will be streamed live into the auction venue. Alternately, people can place proxy bids – contacting the auction office and giving us what lots they’d like and an upward limit that they’re prepared to spend.”

And why wouldn’t any wine lover? It’s the chance of a lifetime. When would you ever be able to buy Kanonkop’s four IWSC Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Trophy-winning red blends – the 1991, 1995, 2003 and 2009 Paul Sauer?

Firstly, it’s unprecedented for one wine to have won the award for the best red blend at the International Wine and Spirit Competition four times – but you get six bottles of each of those wines, as well as a vertical tasting of Paul Sauer with the cellar master Abrie Beeslaar and a safari dinner at the homes of Kanonkop custodians, Johann and Paul Krige.

And that’s not even the best lot on offer… That’s got to go to the Mulderbosch/Fable Mountain Vineyards lot: return Business Class flights, a week in California which includes dinner at The French Laundry and golf at Pebble Beach – for two couples!

There are so many exclusive and special lots on offer – a barrel of Waterford’s The Jem, a vertical tasting of Glenelly with Madame May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, a dinner for 12 guests cooked by former SA chef of the year, the Test Kitchen’s Luke Dale-Roberts with Klein Constantia wines, mushrooming, SuperTuscan wines and a grappa tasting with Giorgio dalla Cia – and so the list goes on.

For more information or to peruse the drool-worthy list of auction items, visit www.thecapewineauction.com.

– Fiona McDonald