Christies’ auctioneer warns Asia will buy all quality wine

Simon Tam, head of wine at auction house, Christie’s Hong Kong, has warned that buyers in the US and Europe will not be able to compete with Asia when it comes to buying top quality wines in the future.

Tam was officiating over a wine tasting to launch the Stellenbosch Cabernet initiative in Cape Town on the eve of Cape 2018 (September 11). The purpose of the initiative from South Africa’s premium wine-producing region, was to establish that it can produce Cabernet Sauvignon wines that can compete with the best in the world.

At the tasting a range of Stellenbosch Cabs were matched against the likes of Pichon Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande, Leoville La Casses and Dominus from California’s Napa valley, all 2015.

As he officiated over the proceedings, Tam told of once being asked which soft drink went best with Château Pétrus from the Bordeaux, one of the world’s most famous wine brands. It was decided Fanta went best with the ‘82 Pétrus.

He said: “When Asia takes off, there will not be anything left.” He went on the criticise British buyers and retailers for chasing deals and suppressing prices. He predicted that they will lose their allocations.

In promoting the quality of Stellenbosch Cabernets compared to any others, when it comes to selling them, Tam exclaimed: “I will bloody make it happen.”

Certainly the wines from Le Riche, Rust en Vrede and Waterford, compared favourably against their more famous French and US Cabernets.

Tam was dismissive of South Africa’s other varieties. He said: “Why Stellenbosch Cabernet? Cabernet is the king of cultivars. Stellenbosch has to put its best foot forward. Paarl is ‘Shiraz-land’. You could not do it with Merlot or Pinot Noir. Tons of Chenin do not count. As for Cinsault, Pinotage - seriously?  They are not going to work."

Tam’s comments annoyed one of the participants, particularly in regards to Pinotage. Tam then claimed that Pinotage was not world class as are South Africa's Cabernets, and particularly Stellenbosch’s.

Tam challenged Stellenbosch producers to step up and take on the big guns of top Cabernets. “Opportunities are made,” he pronounced. “They don't just happen. Cabernet is a cash cow. It needs to walk and roam,” he said.

“It is important to put quality first - on an international platform,” Tam concluded.