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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Stuart Peskett

The guest speaker at this year's Nederburg Auction has claimed that too many varietals are grown in too small an area. Madame May de Lencquesaing of Chteau Pichon-Longueville in Bordeaux, praised South Africa's progress, but pointed out: Here in the Cape area, you grow all different kinds of vines, from red to white, on the same estate: Cabernet Sauvignon can be close to Chardonnay or Semillon, and Merlot can also be quite close to Chenin and Cinsault. Growing such diversity of vines in small areas might not be the answer to top quality. Why don't you concentrate on less [sic] varieties for greater quality? Knowing what works best takes time, a lot of time. We need to work on defining the best marriage between the grape varieties and specific areas. It is the only way for wines to be great, outstanding, with ageing potential, and I am sure that we have this potential here.' She added that South Africa had taken incredible steps' over the past 30 years, and said that if the industry worked on quality and communication, then it could be the leaders'. Sales at this year's event were down from last year's record of R7.5 million (625,000) to R6.7 million (560,000) this year, which auction manager Bennie Howard attributed to the strong Rand and tough trading conditions'. South African supermarkets and wholesalers accounted for a third of sales, while two international buyers made the top 10: Hotel Palmquell from Namibia, and wine importer Vina Vita from Russia. The highest item-price was R12,000 (1,000) for the 1948 Monis Collectors Port Stamp Collection, comprising six bottles.