Q. When and where were you born ?
“I was born in the very small and humble Eastern Cape town of King Williams Town in 1982. I eventually attended Dale College from Grade 1 to Grade 12. I left “King” in 2000 to pursue my dream to become a winemaker.”
Q. Where did you study and what qualifications did you achieve?
“I completed my B.Sc Agriculture in Oenology and Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch in 2004 and set about starting my career. In between completing some local vintages, I travelled to other wine producing areas such as Bordeaux in France and the Mosel in Germany to broaden my horizons. On returning to South Africa, I applied for the winemaking position at Moreson in 2007 and have never looked back!” He continues “In addition I completed a Post Graduate in Wine Business Management, Cum Laude at the University of Cape Town in 2011. “
Q. Do you consider your approach to winemaking to be any different to others ?
“I have derived my winemaking from my friend and mentor, Gerald Ludwinski “Keep it simple and do the basics right.” I personally believe that we are making the best wines we have ever made by sticking to these principles. We are constantly innovating, but also adhere to these basic rules.”
Q. How involved do you get in the vineyards ?
“Luckily I pride myself on my Honesty. Most winemakers like to say that their beds are in the vineyard. This is not to say that I or any other winemaker does not spend any time in the vineyard, it is just that winemaking is an all-consuming position especially if you factor in marketing and travel. I also personally dislike winemakers who take credit away from the Viticulturists and from the farm managers who work on their respective estates. Moreson is a small estate relative to what is out there. Even if we insist on employing a Viticulturist whose sole purpose is to tend to the vines. My role , as the winemaker is to ensure our stylistic approach and direction is well communicated with this person and effectively ensure a good working relationship between the two operations. I spend as much time as I need in the vineyards ensuring we receive what we require for the subsequent vintage. My role is strategic more than it is practical. I always insist that I personally visit each grower in Franschhoek myself together with the viticulturist. Manicuring a good, business relationship supersedes telling people what to do.”
Q. Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ?
“No doubt, Chardonnay and Pinotage. “
Q. Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or wine region ?
Burgundy is one of the most captivating wine regions in the world expressing their wines as single sites or single vineyards. Their history of wine production is fascinating dating back to the11th Century when the first Cistercian monks started to experiment with wine and in doing so finding the best vineyard sites suitable for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which would later be classified as village, premier cru and grand cru. Their vignerons are true farmers who all possess a humility and honesty which is refreshing to experience. What I respect the most is how understated they and their wineries are. There are no ostentatious winery entrances, or large winery signs. Instead they focus purely on their vineyard sites and resulting wines.”
Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?
“Off the top of my head, being awarded Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year in 2009. That was very special and so was being a finalist in Diners Club Winemaker of the year in last year’s competition.” After some thought “My greatest achievement , I believe, has been working with in a team for the past 11 years that has transformed the image and identity of Moreson wines”
Q. What “ secrets” have you “developed” that make your wines different to others ?
“I believe what makes us different as a producer is my constant desire to challenge our wine growing and winemaking techniques. Our approach in the winery is certainly non-conventional. I dislike the conformity of wine production and wine preparation. We are always testing ways and means to eradicate the use of additives in the winery and replacing them with materials that are more natural and derived from our own cellar. For example, if I feel we can get away from not adding bentonite to wine without compromising the heat stability of the wine, we will do so.”
Q. How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ?
“Modern winemaking equipment such as automated sorting tables and optic sorting tables are an essential and expensive practice in wineries. Those wineries whose budget can afford such items and if used correctly, will add value to their final product. Wineries whose brands are based on consistency year on year rely heavily on such machines in order to ensure and promote the health of fruit. We make use of a pellenc automated sorting table to ensure incoming fruit is extremely healthy.”
Q. The future ?
“South Africa is arguably producing some of the world’s best wines. No other wine producing country is gifted with a collection of talented winemakers willing to break the conformity of wine, take risks and continually strive to do better. I still we need to impress the world with just how good our wines are.
The hottest wine topic of September 2018 undoubtedly had to be the annual Cape Wine show. I’ve always wondered what Alice must have seen and felt after falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, and as I walked in to the showroom this year I got a very vivid idea of how she felt.
With the Flagstone carousel slowly spinning to my right, the bright pink ‘One Night Stand’ where the flirty Illimis wines waited towards back of the room and the bright disco ball and western themed tower of the Hemel en Aarde’s wines that shone throughout the room, it was hard to fight off the bewilderment that swiftly overcame me. I took a deep breath and took a step into what seemed like a Western Cape Wine Wonderland.
I started off my wine tasting adventure at the Flagstone stand, which was based on a rotating wooden stand, with pictures of their various wine ranges and winemakers on display. After spending a few minutes on the winding wine stand, I made my way over to the Hemel en Aarde stand, where the winemakers were dressed in what seemed to be 80s themed apparel, sporting mullets (yes, you read that correctly), headbands, scrunchies and bright lumo coloured clothes. I met up with some classmates here, who were equally as enthusiastic about the top quality white wines we had tasted at the stand. The region’s stand had a big, shiny disco ball in the centre, which attracted a lot of attention as the winemakers went on to explain their phenomenal wines. The Cartology (Alheit vineyards) stood out for me, along with some other interesting wine styles such as the Mother Rock Liquid Skin (a skin fermented Chenin). It was a very informative event for any wine-lover to attend, the winemakers pulled out all the stops and showed me that you shouldn’t be afraid to try something innovative with your winemaking.
On to the next region, Swartland! I really did feel like Alice, making her way through the winding roads of Wonderland. The Swartland stand had a Chemistry/Sciency theme, with round bottomed flasks as spittoons and lots of plants growing in erlenmyers, I felt like I was walking into my grade 10 biology class again. Here, we received some very insightful advice from the winemakers, who told us to travel to as many international wine regions as possible and learn as much as possible while we are still young. Their red wines boasted an elegance in their body, with soft tannins and a good length on the palate. I was very excited to taste wines such as Touriga Nacional, Tinta Berocca, Mourvedre and Malbec at these stands because they aren’t commonly made as single varietal wines in South Africa. Additionally, I managed to grab myself a taste of the amazing 99 point (Tim Atkin) ‘T Voetpad white blend at the Sadie Family Wines stand, which undoubtedly blew my socks off.
The Elgin region called to me next, with crisp Sauvignon blancs and fruity pinot noirs that would give the French a run for their money, it was hard not to be impressed! Directly behind the Elgin stand, I spotted an incredibly bright magenta pink stand with the words “One Night Stand” in big, bold black letters. Curiosity didn’t kill the Chesire Cat, so I figured I was safe to approach. Here, I was greeted by the very familiar and friendly face of Lucinda Heyns, the proud producer of Illimis wines. Her Cinsaut and Riesling are showstoppers, and suddenly the stand’s name made sense, because a bottle of either would only last one night in my house! Lucinda also works at the University of Stellenbosch and recently took part in a student driven event called Scion, wherein she inspired many of us with her passion and love for both the vineyard and winemaking process.
Moving deeper into the Wine Wonderland, I found myself at the familiar Durbanville stand (I’m from Durbanville) where I was greeted by another familiar face, Arno Smith (aka Koekdief, because he stole an entire cake from Klein Roosboom Boutique Winery). Here, a classmate (Ronel Heunis) and I tasted his new Saartjie range, which started with the Semillon because his Jack Russel, Saartjie, would go into the vineyard with him and eat the fallen Semillon bunches. We unfortunately could not taste the Semillon because the new vintage has yet to be released, however we did manage to taste the Petit Verdot as well as the Cabernet Franc and Bordeaux Style blend.
A little bit further down the road, Ronel and I stopped at the Neethlingshof and Kanonkop stands, where I was reminded of my great love for red wine while tasting the formidable 100 point Paul Sauer Bordeaux Style blend. I finished off my tasting adventure with the powerful Neethlingshof red wines; their Malbec was a definite showstopper wine and never disappoints, I couldn’t help but to give my mom a call and let her know that she needs to stock up on a few of their wines! The clock chimed 15:00, and I unfortunately had to make my way back out of the rabbit hole (to avoid the afternoon traffic on the N1), but I did not leave disappointed and look very forward to the next Cape Wine Show!