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Five Minutes With Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auction Curator Higgo Jacobs

Curated by sommelier Higgo Jacobs, the Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auction brings a selection of fine rare wines to Cape Town in September.

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Going under the hammer this Saturday 14 September, at Strauss & Co’s first Cape Town Fine Wine Auction, are some of the country’s top vintages, joined by Bordeaux and European icons.

Auction curator and wine authority Higgo Jacobs, who is certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers, talks to us about the joint venture with Wine Cellar fine wine merchants taking place at The Westin Cape Town this weekend. 

Higgo Jacobs | House and Leisure
Higgo Jacobs.
 

Five Minutes With Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auction Curator Higgo Jacobs

What led to you becoming a partner and curator of the Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auction?

I have always been drawn to the beauty and mystery that sets fine wines apart from the vast majority of wine that sits more comfortably in the fast-moving consumer goods category. Wines at the very top end are shaped by seasons, places and people. Whether working a harvest, selling in retail, or on the restaurant floor, I was naturally drawn to the intrigue of the world’s best wines. After coordinating the selection process of the well-established Nederburg Auction since 2011, I became increasingly convinced that the establishment of a secondary market and the promotion of the ageability of our wines has a large role to play in unlocking our potential at the top end. Numerous conversations with Roland Peens of Wine Cellar fine wine merchants were had since 2016 with dreams of a new auction and, when I was serendipitously introduced to Frank Kilbourn, Chairman of Strauss & Co, there was no looking back.

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It’s an interesting year to launch a luxury wine auction, with the current economic climate. Why is the time right now?

Many international commentators have expressed that South Africa is the most exciting wine-producing country in the world at the moment. The reason for this is the camaraderie among young winemakers exploring and unlocking the potential of our very diverse vineyard landscape, on top of an established history dating back 350 years. One has to be realistic and mention that this is not the easiest of times to launch a new platform in the luxury goods sector in South Africa, but when isolating the momentum purely in South African fine wine, the time is right to move now. 

Tell us about the Fine Wine Week events you’re hosting in the build-up to the auction.

We’ve put together a series of fine wine experiences running from 10 to 13 September, which serve to highlight our most remarkable auction lots. Among these experiences is the Marquis event, a hedonistic ‘First Growth Bordeaux’ dinner at FYN restaurant, focusing on the 1998 First Growth lot. Then, Master of Wine Tim Atkin will host a public tasting of his 95+ point wines, poured by South Africa’s leading winemakers themselves. Wine Cellar Director Roland Peens and I will also present a fine wine workshop and, and leading South African winemaker Eben Sadie will host a once-in-a-lifetime vertical tasting of his iconic red, Columella.  

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Auctions often seem daunting and inaccessible. Can everyone attend this one?

Yes! We would like to avoid the often stifling, affected culture that can surround wine. The Strauss & Co auction is open to the public, and anyone interested in buying can simply register and come and go as they please on the day. Absentee and telephone bidding is also available. Our full auction catalogue is currently on the Strauss & Co website. 

Which wines would you recommend buying at this auction?

All of them! The whole auction features wine highlights. We have made a selection for the catalogue after receiving multiple wines for consideration. And it has to be kept in mind that we only call for fine wines from the Cape’s blue-chip producers. So, it’s a selection within a selection. But if I’m pressed into a further selection within the catalogue it will come down to personal preference. The old Veenwouden classics, Sequillo Red and White, Mount Sutherland Syrah 2009 and 2010 and the old KWV ports will be good value buys and just delicious to drink, while wines like Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 1997, MR de Compostella 2007, Cordoba Crescendo 2002, Stellenzicht Syrah 1994, Kaapzicht 1947 Chenin 2013 and the Chateau Libertas 1957 and the GS Cabernet 1966 are unicorns that fine wine enthusiasts should try at least once.

Visit the Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auction website for more information about the aucution and book here for Fine Wine Week events. 
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