39 steps to Nederburg

A century ago John Buchan’s 39 Steps was the toast of the town. Today is the 39th Nederburg Auction which Wendy Appelbaum, Queen of the Stellenboschkloof, called “so retro, it’s chic.” The lots offered are down dramatically but there are some new entrants like Willi de Waal and his Scali Syrah 2006, below, which blew my doors off.

IMG 0996 168x300 39 steps to Nederburg

The old stalwart wines are there, like the elegant Le Bonheur Cabernet 1999, even if many of the winemakers are at the funeral of Johnny Burger RIP, the owner of Rietvallei in Robertson. Also missing is the brilliant Tertius Boshoff from Stellenrust who is punting his Chenins in Germany and many winemakers are off to the Michelangelo Awards this lunchtime which inexplicably clashes with Nederburg. “We got in first” explains Michelangelo technical director Sue van Wyk although whether bling beats sales in the current economic climate, is moot.

Molluscs and other bivalves were celebrating this morning as oysters were off the breakfast menu although gourmets will be hoping they might appear on the second day which is traditionally more of a social affair as opposed to Day 1 which is more business oriented. This is Distell MD Jan Scannell’s last auction in the driving seat and confidence, like the weather, is sunny.