In Interview with a winemaker

Q. Where do you originate ?

“I am another non-Kaapenaar. I was born in Kempton Park, Gauteng.”

Q. Where did you study ? 

“I am a product of the University of Stellenbosch where I did a BSc. Agric Oenology and graduated in 2007.”

Q. What made you interested in wine ? 

“I came to Stellenbosch to study Bio-organic chemistry to get into Forensics but then made a friend who was doing viticulture. One day I went to a practical with her  and fell in love with the vineyards. That made me change my degree.”

Q. How did you come to be at Perdeberg ?

“Perdeberg has experienced considerable growth  and have a new barrel cellar and needed someone to assist cellar Master Albertus Louw. I was lucky to be appointed to that new post in 2015.”

Q. What did you do before Perdeberg ?

“ While still at University I worked in the experimental cellar then I worked at Avontuur Estate near Stellenbosh for a few years then moved to Allee Bleue Wines at entrance to Franschhoek .”

Q. Do you consider your winemaking to differ to others ? 

“I think winemaking is a bit like cooking, while it is good to follow  recipe, sometimes you must be guided by your taste buds and your mood. I try not to overthink the wine….I try and let the wine speak to me and from there I will fine tune things.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ? 

“At the moment, at Perdeberg, not much.  Our viticulturist , Heinie Nel and Production manager, Albertus Louw look after the vineyards.”

Q. Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ?

“I have an affair with Pinot noir and Cabernet franc ! I love the finesse you can get in Pinot noir and I think you either get it right or not ! It can be diverse, depending on the area it is planted in. I prefer the more fruity style, but have had some lovely earthy styles. Cabernet franc is such an interesting variety and prefer the Helderberg area., mainly because you get that greater greener style.  I had success with these varieties at Avontuur in 2008 and 2009.”

Q. Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or by a wine region ?

“As yet I have not travelled  overseas but each area I have worked in the Cape has taught me just how important origin is.”

Q. What do you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?

“It is early days yet but my first four star wine was a great moment.  It was a Shiraz I made at Avontuur. This wine was to become part of their premier range, named after their first stallion, Dominion Royale.  It took a lot of tasting and selection with many potential blends. After some five months I was pretty sure of two combinations and a good idea which would be best.  It was confirmed by the GM and bottled as the 2008 which was a very hot year  with high alcohols. It is a big robust wine with a mixture of white pepper, and black fruits with 15 % alcohol. It is developing beautifully.”

Q What “secrets” have you “developed” that make your wines different to others ?

“I don’t have any secrets but as mentioned I treat each wine on it’s own and listen to the wine.”

Q. How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ?

“It makes life a lot easier especially when working in big volumes.” Then adds, after a bit of thought “As long as things are working properly !”

Q. What do you think the heat of 2016 will “do” to the vintage ?

“It will keep me on my toes, for sure. It will be another interesting year for reds. Very concentrated flavours.”

Q. What do you prefer to drink when relaxing ?

“In summer I love dry rose. Some would say I am in my “Rose phase” ! I enjoy  fresh Sauvignon Blanc or a slightly chilled Pinot Noir. In winter our Cape red blends or Shiraz. I n very good company I will take out my special Cabernet Franc.”

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