Increasing number of top South African wine cellars fetching well over R1000 per bottle

Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2011_Wrapped (smaller)

THE LAUNCH of Simonsig’s ‘Garland’ Cabernet and Neil Ellis’s ‘Webb Ellis’ Cabernet Shiraz blend brought the number of Top 100 SA Wine Cellars selling recent releases for over R1000 a ‘pop’ in 2015 to nine – nobody’s dared to seal their iconic wines and luxury stuff with a screwcap, not yet! And no doubt the number will climb further before the year is up – as it is there are quite a few more if you include the Top 100 wannabes.

Not that long ago KWV was grabbing headlines with the release of its first Abraham Perold, a 1998 Shiraz that sold in New York for $100 – R400 to R500 a bottle and primarily for export. Fifteen years later, however, the asking price has only moved up slightly to R600 for the 2012 vintage ex-cellar. Click here for the names of a whole bunch of high-profile SA wines priced at between R500 and R1000 a bottle in 2014 – a number of them, even allowing for shipping costs, apparently more highly valued outside the country than they are at home…

At the upmarket store of Berry Bros & Rudd in London, the top-priced SA wines mid-2015 were 2011 and 2012 vintages of Mullineux single vineyard Syrah at £79 / around R1500 a bottle – versus a cellar-door price of R725 for the 2013 vintage in South Africa. At SA Wines Online in the UK, the top-priced wines were Bouchard Finlayson Tête de Cuvée Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2009 at £80 / around R1538, Hartenberg Gravel Hill 2007 (Shiraz) at £75 / around R1442 and La Motte’s Hanneli R 2009 (Shiraz Blend) at £74 / around R1423 a bottle – versus cellar-door prices of R765 for the 2010 Tête de Cuvée, R495 for the 2008 Gravel Hill and R960 for the 2009 Hanneli R. Whereas Majestic’s top-priced SA wine was the 2007 Gravel Hill at £65 / around R1250.

Here is what the Top 100 SA cellars were selling for R1000 plus per bottle on the farms in 2015 – most from Stellenbosch wineries, i.e. except Vergelegen in Somerset West, and including a one-off involving Shiraz grown near Elim that was turned into wine at the Hidden Valley cellar on the Helderberg before spending over a year in the sea near the Cape Agulhas lighthouse:

R3500 – Shipwreck Shiraz 2009 (Hidden Valley)
R2500 – Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2011 (Bordeaux-Style Red Blend)
R2250 – Black Lion 2013 (Shiraz, De Toren)
R2250 – Book XVII 2013 (Red Blend, Varieties Not Disclosed, De Toren)
R1375 – Simonsig The Garland 2008 (Cabernet Sauvignon)
R1350 – Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage 2013
R1325 – Webb Ellis 2010 (Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Blend, Neil Ellis)
R1200 – Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2012 (Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Blend)
R1100 – Vergelegen V 2009 (Cabernet Sauvignon)

Here are the bottles of old fortified wines that were selling at the KWV Wine Emporium in Paarl in 2015 – museum pieces in comparison:

R10000 – KWV Late Bottled Vintage Muscadel 1930
R10000 – KWV Reserve Collection Port 1929
R6500 – KWV Tawny Port 1948
R6000 – KWV Ruby Port 1949
R5500 – KWV White Muscadel Jerepigo 1968
R5000 – KWV White Muscadel Jerepigo 1969

And these sold for over R1000 a bottle (average price) at the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction in 2014 – all from Stellenbosch cellars except for Boekenhoutskloof of Franschhoek:

R1373 – Etienne Le Riche Auction Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
R1343 – Boekenhoutskloof Auction Syrah 2012
R1339 – Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2011 (Bordeaux-Style Red Blend)
R1225 – Beyerskloof Traildust Pinotage 2012
R1102 – Hartenberg CWG Auction Shiraz 2011
R1049 – Rust en Vrede CWG Estate 2011 (Blend of Shiraz & Bordeaux Varieties)
R1024 – Etienne Le Riche Auction Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
R1000 – Hartenberg CWG Auction Cabernet Sauvignon 2010



The following gives an indication of the top prices being fetched at UK retailers by French, Spanish, Italian, Australian and Californian wine producers mid-2015 when the exchange rate registered 19.3 rand to the pound:

Top-priced Bordeaux in the UK:

At Berry Bros & Rudd: Malartic-Lagraviere 1998 (Cabernet Blend) was selling for £9999 a bottle, Petrus 1982 (Merlot) for £6900, Le Pin 2005 (Merlot) for £2500, Lafite Rothschild 1986 (Cabernet Blend) for £1337 and Latour 2010 (Cabernet Blend) for £1080.

At Harrods: Latour 1982 was going for £2800, Petrus 2003 for £2695, Haut Brion 1989 (Cabernet Blend) for £1925 and Lafite Rothschild 2003 for £1495.

At Majestic: Mouton Rothschild 1982 (Cabernet Blend) was going for £1600 a bottle.

Top-priced Burgundy (Pinot Noir) in the UK:

At Berry Bros & Rudd: La Tache 2010 (Romanee Conti) was selling for £3328, Romanee St-Vivant 2010 for £2290, Le Romanee Bouchard 1999 for £1210 and Clos de la Roche 2005 for £1025.

At Harrods: La Tache was going for £2250 a bottle.

Top-priced Rhone (Chateauneuf du Pape) in the UK:

At Berry Bros & Rudd: Rayas 1989 (Grenache) was selling for £1203, Rayas Rouge 1995 (Shiraz) for £912 and Henri Bonneau 2007 (Shiraz Grenache Blend) for £775.

Top-priced Champagne in the UK:

At Berry Bros & Rudd: Krug 1998 (Chardonnay) was selling for £1862 a bottle, Dom Perignon 1971 (Blend) for £1650, Piper Heidsieck 1979 (Chardonnay Pinot Noir Blend) for £765, Bollinger 1999 (Blend) for £736 and Louis Roederer Cristal Rose Brut 2006 (Blend) for £475.

At Harrods: Dom Perignon P3 Blanc 1982 was selling for £1195, Louis Roederer Cristal Rose 2006 for £525 and Armand De Brignac Ace of Spaces Rose NV for £475.

Top-priced Spanish wines in the UK:

At Berry Bros & Rudd: L’Ermita 2010 (Grenache) was selling for £675 a bottle, La Faraona 2011 and 2012 (Mencia) for £500 a bottle and Vega Sicilia Unico 1995 (Tinto Fino Cabernet Blend) for £384.

Top-priced Italian wines (from Nebbiolo) in the UK:

At Berry Bros & Rudd: Crichet Paje Barbaresco 2005 was selling for £382 a bottle, Gaja Sori San Lorenzo 2011 for £309 and Morrisio Monprivato Barolo Riserva 2006 for £306.

Top-priced Australian wines in the UK:

At Berry Bros & Rudd: Penfolds Bin 60A 2004 (Cabernet Shiraz Blend) was selling for £709 a bottle and Penfolds Grange 2008 (Shiraz) for £496.

Top-priced Californian / Napa Valley wines in the UK:

At Berry Bros & Rudd: Screaming Eagle 2009 (Cabernet Blend) was selling for £1990 a bottle, Opus One 2008 (Bordeaux-Style Blend) for £592 and Colgin IX Estate 2006 (Bordeaux-Style Blend) for £448 a bottle.