Ginny Povall’s Botanica Wines Mary Delaney Collection Chenin Blanc has a cult-like following. How you may ask?
American-born winemaker Ginny Povall spent most of her adult life working in New York City. She has to confess that she does not have a ‘posh background in winemaking’. She arrived in South Africa in 2008 with some basic knowledge of winemaking through evening and weekend courses. The majority of those courses were in viticulture, with some wine chemistry and analysis thrown in. Her knowledge expanded over the years with, what she calls, ‘a ton of reading’.
As a result of this knowledge, she planted her first vineyards on her Devon Valley flower farm in 2009 with a high density of Bordeaux varieties. Having now completed her 11th harvest in South Africa, she’s got some solid credibility.
She farms organically, exports cut flowers, raises chickens and herds cats. Ginny considers herself a frustrated artist – her aesthetic shines through in her gardens, wine labels and the interior design of her guesthouse.
“Drink the Episode”
Beyond the periphery of South Africa’s conventional vineyard regions lie great vinous treasures, resigned to anonymity; forgotten, abandoned or just simply undiscovered. It is the mission of Rick, our intrepid Cape Crusader, to seek out and liberate these rare wines, consigning them to the table of the most inquisitive and discerning imbiber. Each episode represents a single discovery; a precious parcel that is both unique and finite.
Here are a few words from our plucky protagonist, Rick, The Liberator.
Some say that The Liberator conjures up images of a disguised, cloaked superhero, charging around the Winelands rescuing bottles in distress. But I’m no Superman. I’m just plain Rick; a Cape crusader perhaps, but one where cloaks are exchanged for a rather tatty Harris Tweed jacket and any superhuman powers are substituted by a supposedly blessed palate.
On my regular jaunts around the Cape, I’m often confounded by the number of great wines that are resigned to a tragic fate of being blended away or disposed of in bulk. It might be an occasional experimental batch, or possibly an interesting off-cut from some proud winemaker’s latest premium release. Whatever their provenance, it’s my mission as The Liberator to procure these precious vinous orphans and consign them to a better home.
Inevitably, each wine discovered by The Liberator comes with its own story; a tale of its untimely existence. You’ll find that every release has its testimony recounted, in bottle and on screen, as a unique and evocative Episode.
Expect the unexpected …
The Liberator doesn’t adhere to any standard formula for selecting Episodes. There is no set style or quantity. No fixed price point. Rest assured that whatever the wine it’s received Rick’s own seal of approval.
Who knows where The Liberator might take us next …?
Platter’s Guide 2019 awarded Erika ‘Newcomer Winery of the Year’. We couldn’t agree more. They said,
Two of the maiden vintages in her top range – the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah-Grenache Noir- Cinsault – achieved our highest rating. The Sauvignon Blanc was just one point away from it. A remarkable achievement, promising even greater ones in the future from this greatly welcome new label.
Erika grew up on her family’s farm near Sutherland in the Northern Cape. Although she her sights set on studying medicine, she got the ‘bug’ for wine while studying at Stellenbosch University. She graduated with a BSc and BSc Honours in Wine Biotechnology in 1998 and was appointed as Assistant Winemaker at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch in 1999.
After that, in 2005, she accepted a winemaker position at Graham Beck Wines. Eventually, having become Cellar Master of Still Wines, she decided to take a massive leap of faith and go it alone founding Erika Obermeyer Wines in 2016. Erika ran to the challenge loving the opportunity to explore all the ‘magic’ of wine and all the elements of great winemaking.
She sources fruit from vineyards across the Western Cape to create wines which authentically express South Africa’s unique vineyard sites and exceptional diversity. Balance, length and intensity are paramount and every bottle is a labour of love. With the minimal intervention philosophy in the cellar, it all comes down to the vineyard and the terroir. If you ask Erika, “what makes a fine wine?” above all she would answer: “true terroir, balance, honesty and a light touch. It tells a story of a time, a place and a maker.”
You can read more about Erika by visiting her website erikaobermeyerwines.co.za
Gerhard Smith’s day job is as part of the the winemaking team for Creation Wines in the Hemel en Aarde. He makes the Kat se Snor (the Cat’s Whiskers) wines as his own side project – a few small parcel, hand (and foot) crafted wines of individual character and texture.
Gerhard grew up in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town and studied Oenology and Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch. Upon graduating he gained extensive international experience in France, the USA and Australia before settling in New Zealand where he managed the winery for Gladstone Vineyard in the Wairarapa for eight years before returning to South Africa (without becoming an All Black supporter).
Why did Gerhard decide to become a winemaker? “I am from a family of doctors, but realised soon enough that it would be better for the world if I didn’t follow that particular family tradition! Luckily, there were wine farmers on my paternal grandmother’s side, so I followed what seemed to be a natural course: combining a passion for science with my creative and artistic side. So far it has worked for me!”
Asked about his winemaking philosophy Gerhard’s reply is short and to the point: “Farm right, then don’t stuff it up in the winery. My aim is to make elegant, terroir-driven wines that are fun to drink, and I’m delighted to be working with the wonderful sites we have at our disposal on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge.” When not making wine, he enjoys to braai (BBQ for the non-South Africans), eat good food and drink good wine with friends and family.
Two new wines join the range in Lukas van Loggerenberg’s second vintage since his ‘great leap of faith’ in going solo: a chenin blending grapes from different areas and a syrah-cinsaut from Stellenbosch. Quantities are also up – though still very small. Also new is Thomas, Lukas and Roxanne’s first child, who was born during the early days of harvest 2018 – compensating for the drought-stricken Kameraderie dryland vineyard in Paarl. The wines are still made in the simple shed atop a Devon Valley hill (where he also crafts the Carinus Family wines in exchange for the hospitality) – but such ‘very basic’ conditions are fine for the rigorously non-interventionist approach behind these fresh, elegant wines.
Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson are the husband-and-wife winemaking team with experience of over 30 vintages between them. Growing up around some of the Cape’s leading edge winemakers as family friends, Gordon was immersed in the culture but only followed it closely after university. Having finished an economics degree his more artistic leanings led him to explore wine as a creative medium. Having been hooked he was largely self-taught before taking over the reins of winemaking at Newton Johnson in 1999.
In 2004 Gordon and Nadia met during the harvest in the Hemel-en-Aarde. Nadia, herself the 6th generation of wine growers near Robertson, having previously earned a degree in Oenology & Viticulture at Stellenbosch and eventually joined as winemaker after two years in the Constantia Valley. They test and play out each other’s ideas with minute detail for improvement. They adore the classics and taste as much of Burgundy as they can lay their hands on.
Thorne and Daughters Wines was started in 2012 by John and Tasha Seccombe to produce authentic wines in the beautiful Western Cape where we have made our home. It has been a long journey that has taken us around the world and brought us back here to where we first met. We are in love with the Cape, and we want to taste this air and this sunshine in our wines.
To produce our wines we’ve drawn on the great history of wine growing here in the Cape, putting together old vineyard parcels with new grape varieties, and making wines with old school simplicity and a modern ‘edge’. Our approach to wine making is simple, honest and gentle, and we are looking to make wines that tell a story, not wines that shout and bang a drum.
We spend a lot of time cooking and talking about wine, food, photography, building, and gardening. Our home and family are so important to us and they are constant sources of energy and inspiration that we take into the world. We are ridiculously passionate about what we do, and are so grateful to be able to make these wines and share our ideas.
Stellenrust was established in 1928 and has ever since produced some of the most superb quality wines that the Stellenbosch region from South Africa can offer. It consists of about 400ha (200ha planted) of which half is stretched over the Golden Triangle area of Stellenbosch, internationally recognised for some of the best red wine soil in South Africa. The other half is situated high up in the Bottelary Hills, renowned for its cool climate and late afternoon sea breezes swooping in from Cape Town to nurture both excellent white and red wines.
This is one of the largest family-run Stellenbosch properties – two properties, really: half the 200-plus hectares are in the Helderberg Golden Triangle not far from the town, the other half in the Bottelary Hills. Some 150,000 cases are produced in a number of bottlings under their own label (from a wide range of varieties, rather more black grapes than white), other grapes are sold off, and various wines appear under the labels of clients. In fact, although the farm was established in 1928, the own-label is a newish idea, with some Stellcape Vineyards wines (initially vinified elsewhere) marketed since 2003. Then the name of the family farm, Stellenrust, was used for the main ranges. The “boutique-style” wines are made in a converted milk shed on the Bottelary property, and the larger volume ones at a large facility in Stellenbosch. Owners Tertius Boshoff and Kobie van der Westhuizen are responsible for winemaking and viticulture, respectively.
Naudé Wines is the culmination of a journey that began more than 30 years ago. Since that first harvest, I’ve worked all over the world, hoping to craft wines that tell a story of time and place.
I love the diversity we have in South Africa. Not just of the people, but the soils, the microclimates, and the wine varietals that thrive under their own unique conditions. I’m fortunate to have been introduced to a few of these vineyards, and work with some of the wonderful grapes that they produce, many of these from certified old vines.
The grapes on these vines are storied, complex and unique. Each year they represent something different – whatever nature allows them – and with any luck, I don’t get in the way.