A few South Africans had the fortune of tasting the wines of Domaine de la Romanée laid on by importer Great Domaines. David Finlayson from Edgebaston Family Vineyards in Stellenbosch was one. Here are his thoughts.
People become winemakers for different reasons, the main ones being they see a career that looks relatively interesting, offers a decent salary, opportunity to travel, you can consume your product etc, etc. But there are also those winemakers who make wine for an added reason – passion. A passion to strive and aspire to vinous perfection, year after year and over their lifetime. I like to think that I am one of these winemakers.
No, please. Don’t tell me I have turned into a wine ponce….not now. Not ever.
One of the features of homo sapiens vino wankerus is his or her preconceived idea that the use of new wood in the fermentation and/or maturation of wine is nearly as big a crime as to imply that South Africa makes decent Merlot and that oxidised white wine from old vines is not brilliant. I have seen this species, noted them sniffing at a glass of Shiraz, almost to inhaling point, until the tiniest whiff of mocha of smoke is detected before putting down the vessel with a shake of the head and a “tut-tut….over-wooded”.
There is nothing like thirty-six minutes of deft levitating while listening to the droning hum of a Buddhist priest to work-up an appetite. The other members of my Black River Soul Revival Club may be happy to munch on raw nuts, low-fat yoghurt and organic sprouts after a spiritual work-out. But the real holders of an inner-void need heartier fare.
The much-maligned tot-system is alive and well, and I am sure I am not the only one willing to work for wine. This week past saw me straining under tremendous physical and emotional toil for nothing but the prospect of a good stiff drink from my temporary employer. The sweat-drenched brow, the aching lower back and the pulsing veins were all worth it, though, when said employer produced a few bottles of alcohol. Within minutes the pain was gone, a pleasant coolness had set in and a feeling of good-will to all men – well, almost all – was taking grip.
Complexity and freshness rule in this, one of my perennial white favourites. David Finlayson is a master of the blend and has perfected a choral harmony from three varieties: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. Sauvignon Blanc provides the typical bolt of zesty freshness, while the Sémillon gives a welcoming firm mouth-feel and educated waxiness.
There’s a lot of good stuff going on in new plantings, new wines, new styles. Juicy drops concocted from a medley of Rh?+¦???+¦?+¦????ne varietals. Hearty, solid Portuguese-styled reds. The odd experiment with Sangiovese and co-Italian variety Nebbiola.
Yes, the South African wine industry is free from its over-regulated shackles of yesteryear, leaving farmers to plant what they want, where they want. Okay, so it takes a call to Duimpie Bayly at the Wine and Spirits Board, but what the heck. Want to plant Gr?+¦???+¦?+¦???+æneveltliner on the Heads at Knysna or Nero d’Avola on the Cape Flats, go for it.
Wine maker David Finlayson has resigned as cellarmaster and CEO of Glen Carlou with immediate effect. Along with his father and Glen Carlou founder, Walter Finlayson, David built Glen Carlou into a premier wine estate known for world-class Chardonnay, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Bordeaux blends. A 50% share-holding in Glen Carlou was purchased by the Hess Group of Switzerland in 1995, where-after David progressed to winemaker and CEO. The Hess Group took complete control of the Paarl Estate in 2003.
“I will now be concentrating exclusively on my Edgebaston wine brand which I started a few years ago from my own vineyards in Stellenbosch,” says David. “The experience I gained with Glen Carlou in the South African and international wine markets will hopefully stand me in good stead to continue growing Edgebaston and underscoring my commitment to the South African wine industry.”