Dana Buys (below, left, with a slipped halo) lived his first life as an IT mogul, so it makes sense that his approach to making fine wine should be a scientific one. Which means rigorous testing and benchmarks implemented as blind tasting your wines against the competition. So on Monday afternoon Hein Koegelenberg from La Motte, Nico Vermeulen who consults to many wineries including biodynamic producer Wedderwill and the pair of ladies (Susan and Ansoné) who make wine at V&L tasted a selection of Sauvignon Blancs and Chenin Blancs at Vrede en Lust in Franschhoek.
“I’m interested in improving mouthfeel” declared Dana. “I want creaminess.” And it soon became clear there are two ways to achieve this: terroir and terroir by truck. Back in 2005 Dana purchased a 90ha farm called Casey’s Ridge in Elgin. Between six and eight degrees cooler than Franschhoek, it was a no-brainer, if elegance is your aim. Which he certainly achieves in the 2012 Chenin which scores an extra 1/2 a point (out of 20) for creaminess.
This terroir-by-truck model has been driven to the max by Carl van der Merwe at De Morgenzon in the Stellenboschkloof with the fruit for his spectacular Sauvignon Blanc 2012 sourced from various different terroirs. As Carl reports, the fruit comes “from a particularly cool and windy pocket in Elgin, a vineyard in Durbanville, Faure and the Stellenboschkloof (estate).”
As far as making the wine goes, Carl’s “modus operandi was high turbidity juice, careful but not overly reductive handling, cool inoculated ferments in stainless, regular fermentation lees suspension for 4 months post ferment. 5% was naturally fermented in barrel and back blended for weight.” The result is spectacular, although some terroirists are not convinced when told the wine is not a single vineyard lovely.
“It feels a bit like cheating” complained V&L Pretoria and environs marketer Nico Davel. But I’m betting that few consumers will agree. While the tasting room at Vrede en Lust has the finest pair of situational variables this side of the pearly gates, if a better wine can be made buying in grapes, whyever not?