Christie’s Charlie Foley Takes up the Gavel for the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction

The colourful Charlie Foley (29) takes up the gavel for the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction
Charlie Foley.

Do buyers perceive South African wines as investment pieces?
We recently collaborated with the Cabernet Collective for our Dylan Lewis sculpture sale and the chance to show some of the Cape’s top wines to our clients was amazing. The reaction was fantastic. Buyers like to discover new things and be ahead of the curve. The opportunity for buyers to try older vintages of South African wines will be interesting as Christie’s buyers like to see a wine unfurl over the years, gain complexity and blossom into an intriguing mature wine. The maturity of South Africa’s top wines will be the key to buyers appreciating them as investment wines.

Vin de Constance Klein Constantia 1993.
Vin de Constance Klein Constantia 1993.

Have you studied the upcoming auction lots for the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction? What are your thoughts?
What a fantastic offering, you couldn’t ask for a more intriguing smorgasbord of wines. I have visited the Cape this year already and spent time with many estates listed in these exceptional lots. The winemakers have a devotion to their vines that is touching. They are so happy to be swirling their wines around their own glasses, and now buyers get the chance to bid and buy and taste some of the best wines they have made. Wines they have kept secret, that has lain in cellars, gaining extra aroma and added complexity.

Are you a wine collector? Any particular lots you would’ve bid on if you could? Why?
I’ve planned an imaginary dinner. I begin with Ken’s FMC 2009, and I match it with a light and delicate cheese souffle. Next up, I’ve nabbed the Kaapzicht 1947 Chenin, and I splash it into a glass alongside a lemon drizzled cod. My steak is sizzling – it’s going to be medium rare, and my red is equally as rare. It’s the Rubicon 1989, and it’s singing with my steak. A plate of cheese is waiting. I have decanted the Rustenberg 1974, and it’s sensational, the cheese is aged and mature, the wine is complex and evolved. Finally, my sweet tooth needs feeding. I have a malva pudding, and I can’t resist It’s Vin de Constance 2001. I’m in sugar-saturated heaven. Who’s joining me at the table?

An auctioneer brings important energy to the auction hall. What would you say is your personal approach?
Colour. I cannot pass a suit shop without seeing if they have vibrant-hued tailoring inside. However, the suit only does half the job; the rest is up to me. My grandfather auctioned cattle many moons ago, and I have grown up trying to ape his precision, knowledge, speed, authority and general charm when wielding a gavel.

Christie’s has included a South African ‘super lot’ in their Fine & Rare Wine Auction later this year in London. Do tell us more.
We are delighted to partner with the auction on this lot. It will be a fantastic feature in our catalogue and allow our buyers the chance to learn about, experience and bid on the best wines the Cape cultivates. I worked in South Africa for Steenberg some years ago, and since then, I have been banging the drum for South African wines. There is special magic in those hills: it rolls in on the Cape Doctor, settles quietly over the vines and seeps through the verdant leaves into the grapes, swelling them into fizzing energy that will excite the taste-buds of anyone who believes in the magic of wine.

Christie’s Charlie Foley Takes up the Gavel for the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction 2

This is your first South African auction, and you’re only the 5th auctioneer in the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction’s 45-year history, with the first auctioneer, Patrick Grubb (1975 to 2005), holding a Guinness Book of Records record for hosting an auction for 31 consecutive years. Are you open to a 31-year challenge?
I am honoured to have the opportunity, and the challenge is accepted. I would love a Guinness World Record. All that would be left to achieve then is a Nobel Peace Prize, and my life would be complete.

About the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction

The two-day event opens with a pre-auction tasting at the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch on 18 October 2019. A charity auction on Saturday, 19 October, will be preceded by the main auction. For more information, visit the website here.

To read more articles on wine and spirits, please click here.

Paul Godbold

Founder, Editor-in-Chief

Paul is the owner and editor-in-chief of Luxurious Magazine. He previously worked as a fashion model, was in the British Army and created companies in the technology, venture capital and financial services sectors. In addition to writing, he also proofs, edits, designs, lays out and publishes all the articles in the online magazine. Paul is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

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