NFT ownership certificates for some of the world’s leading wines come under the hammer in July
Penfolds Grange · Domaine de la Romanée Conti · Chateau Mouton Rothschild · Chateau d’Yquem · Screaming Eagle · Harlan Estate
- Highest-value wine auction ever staged in Africa
- NFT-based ownership certificates allow collection, trade and gifting while wine ages undisturbed in secure cellaring
- Unprecedented range of wines and vintages to be sold via blockchain technology
- Highly rare opportunity to buy superb wines at scale
- Primary sale and resale royalties shared with SASA to further African Sommelier Development
Cape Town — Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auctions unveils six significant collections of the world’s greatest wines, including Penfolds Grange, Domaine de La Romanée Conti, Château Mouton Rothchild, Château d’Yquem, Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate. For the second year in a row Strauss & Co has partnered with Web3 solutions provider Fanfire to provide the secure NFT-based ownership certificates for the collections. The collections will be sold online in July 2023 (bidding 3–10 July). This highly rare offering to global wine collectors follows on the highly successful sale of iconic South African wine NFTs in 2022.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) grabbed the public’s attention over recent years, primarily as a way to represent and trade purely digital artworks and collectibles. However, these blockchain tokens provide much broader usefulness and their “smart contracts” can be used to define how they may be owned and traded.
For the Strauss & Co collections, Fanfire created a token that provides a highly efficient way to package a collection of wines for long term aging or trading. Each individual bottle has its own token on the Polygon blockchain and this NFT includes the critical information of the transaction in provenance, barcode, pictures, pricing, along with sensorial and aging information. Fanfire then created a special “basket” NFT into which each collection’s constituent bottles are packaged. This allows an entire collection’s ownership to be traded in bulk. The owner of such a collection can remove the individual bottle NFTs to trade them or to redeem the physical bottle of wine.
Transactions on the Polygon blockchain are cheap, fast and consume marginal energy.
All wines are currently stored in the professional cellars of Wine Cellar in Cape Town, Africa’s largest fine wine cellar. Professional world-wide shipping can also be arranged, at negligible costs considering the high value of the wines. Payment can be made in ZAR, USD, GBP as well as BTC, ETH and stable coins.
“Considering the size and depth of these impressive, unique collections, and the critical need for authenticity, we saw the advantage of minting each wine as an NFT.” said Roland Peens, Strauss & Co Wine Fine Wine Specialist. “We authenticated and photographed each bottle with the information now stored on the blockchain. This is a chance to buy a super rare collection or invest in an alternative asset. Fine wine has proven to be an uncorrelated long-term asset with low volatility and the NFTs add further security.”
Prof Gert-Jan van Rooyen, Technology Director at Fanfire concurs: “With emerging technology like blockchain tokens it is often difficult to separate the hype from the true utility. We believe that fine wine certificates are a perfect example of how a tradeable token can be used to collect precious assets that are best left untouched for as long as possible.”
A superb wine collection
The Coats Family Cellar is arguably the most prestigious fine wine collection ever offered in South Africa. It contains an expansive range of the world’s finest and most sought-after wines spanning over 150 years. Collected over many decades by the Coats family, as part of an extensive cellar, the wines were imported from Ireland into South Africa via refrigerated container and have been cellared professionally since. Each bottle is in top condition. ‘Mr Coats had a clear passion for Penfolds Grange and Mouton-Rothschild, but there are few great wines from the 20th century that weren’t in the cellar. The d’Yquem lot is also expansive and very special!’ continues Roland. Leading International fine wine expert, Michal Egan, has scrutinized and authenticated every bottle, and over 100 bottles have been tasted.
Fine wine in Africa and donation to wine and food non-profit organization
The Coats family donated R4m ($200,000) of their cellar to charity and wine education in Southern Africa. “Crucial international benchmarks are increasingly priced out of arm’s reach for aspiring young African professionals’ education”, says Higgo Jacobs, co-founder of SASA — South African Sommelier Association — and Strauss & Co Fine Wine Specialist.
A portion of the NFT primary and secondary sale royalties will go to SASA, the South African Sommelier Association, a registered NPO that promotes a culture of food and beverage service excellence in South Africa through education. ‘A lot of ground has been made to create opportunities over recent years, however, much remains to be done. This partnership will provide a further shot in the arm to level the playing field and create access for African sommeliers.’ Continues Higgo.
Zimbabwean wine celebrity, sommelier and Kumusha producer, Tinashe Nyamudoka, says “drinking and experiencing these wines is the only way to feel a sense of place. I’m excited because the African wine palate is maturing, and we see more and more fine wine being consumed and more sommeliers. However, access and education are still limited. ‘ Tinashe recently starred in Blind Ambition as part of team Zimbabwe competing in the world wine-tasting championships.
The Wine for Sale in July
The entire collection is viewable online at strauss.fanfire.ai which also provides links to the popular OpenSea online marketplace where the NFTs may be inspected.
The Penfolds Grange lot is a grandeur selection of the first 58 years of Penfolds, including the maiden 1951 vintage. The New World’s most famous wine was produced by visionary Max Schubert, and the collection includes a signed 375ml bottle of the 1952. The 232 bottles, including 42 Magnums, is close to a complete vertical.
Château Mouton-Rothschild famously added artwork to their labels with the legendary 1945, the first vintage in the NFT. To commemorate the allied victory, Baron Philippe de Rothschild commissioned unknown artist Phillippe Julian. The 1945 turned out to be a legendary wine and the artist labels became a huge drawcard for collectors. This impressive 176 bottle collection holds a bevy of large format bottles, including 33 double-magnums and a strong showing of the great vintages of 1982, 1986 and 2000.
The world’s greatest sweet wine, Château d’Yquem is showcased over 119 years and this sale includes four bottles from the 19th century. d’Yquem is famous for its extremely long ageing and it turns progressively darker with age, gaining complexity. Great vintages such 2001, 1976, 1967, 1947, 1945, 1928 and 1899 are included.
The world’s most hallowed producer, Domaine de La Romanée Conti, is minted into an NFT with 80 bottles from 1999–2015. This prolific period for Burgundy is highlighted by a mix of red wines from their various vineyards including 17 bottles of La Tâche, and 2 bottles each of the 2009 and 2010 La Romanée Conti.
Two American cult wine collections are offered as NFTs in Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate. Both Cabernet Sauvignons are produced in small quantities with long waiting lists to receive an allocation. Screaming Eagle is America’s most expensive and exclusive wine that matches prices of Château Petrus. The Harlan Estate NFT features a bottle and magnum of their first commercial 1990 vintage along with 100 pointer vintages in 1997, 2002, 2007.
THE SENSATIONAL SIX LOTS for Sale in July
Strauss & Co Penfolds Grange 1951–2008 NFT
- Lot contains 232 bottles; 1 x 375ml, 189 x 750ml, 42 x 1500ml
- Including signed 1952 by Max Schubert
- Low R6m (in the region of $300,000)
- High R8m (in the region of $400,000)
Strauss & Co Domaine de La Romanée Conti 1999–2015 NFT
- Lot contains 80 x 750ml bottles
- 4 x Romanée-Conti, 17 x La Tâche, 4 x Richebourg, 18 x Romanée-Saint-Vivant, 20 x Grands-Echezeaux, 14 x Echezeaux and 3 x Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru
- Low R8m (in the region of $400,000)
- High R10m (in the region of $500,000)
Strauss & Co Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945–2014 NFT
- Lot contains 176 bottles; 68 x 750ml, 73 x 1500ml, 33 x 3000ml and 2 x 5000ml
- Low R7m (in the region of $350,000)
- High R9m (in the region of $450,000)
Strauss & Co Château d’Yquem 1892–2010 NFT
Lot contains 184 bottles; 36 x 375ml, 146 x 750ml and 2 x 1500ml.
Low R4m, (in the region of $200,000)
High R5.5m, (in the region of $275,000)
Strauss & Co Screaming Eagle 1995–2010 NFT
- Lot contains 19 bottles; 17 x 750ml and 1 x 1500ml Cabernet Sauvignon, 1 x 750ml Sauvignon Blanc
- Low R1.6m (in the region of $80,000)
- High R2m (in the region of $100,000)
Strauss & Co Harlan Estate 1990–2012 NFT
- Lot contains 40 bottles; 2 x 1500ml and 38 x 750ml
- Low R1.3m (in the region of $65,000)
- High R1.5m (in the region of $75,000)
- Low and High estimates are open to change considering the print lead-time and currency volatility. See the Strauss Website for a full list.
- Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auctions is a joint venture between principal auction house, Strauss & Co, Africa’s leading auction house, and leading wine merchant WineCellar.co.za and sommelier Higgo Jacobs. Since 2019, the platform has set to develop the secondary market for fine wines in South Africa and beyond.
- Fanfire (www.fanfire.ai) is a Web3 solutions company based in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and worked closely with Strauss & Co Fine Wine Auctions to design the technology to certify large and valuable collections of wine. Technical Director Prof Gert-Jan van Rooyen has over a decade of blockchain technology experience and is co-inventor on a patent (2013) for one of the oldest practical applications of NFTs.
- In April 2022, five unique South African wine digital contracts, or NFTs, of past and future vintages were sold by Strauss & Co’s Fine Wine. These encompassed vertical collections and future vintages of the finest South African producers in Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, Kanonkop Paul Sauer, Meerlust Rubicon, Mullineux Olerasay and Vilafonté Series C. The sale totalled R3.49m (c. $180k)
- Michael Egan is an expert in fine and rare wines with more than thirty-five years of experience. From 1981 to 2005 he worked in the wine department at Sotheby’s, becoming a director. Michael moved to Bordeaux in 2005 and since then has been authenticating private and commercial wine collections around the world. Thanks to many years spent inspecting old and rare wines in European cellars for auction, where in many instances the wines had lain undisturbed since original purchase shortly after bottling, he is in the fortunate position to know what a genuine bottle should look like, hence his speciality in detecting counterfeit bottles.
- The sale is estimated at R27–36 million/$1.4–1.8 million (currency values may fluctuate).