South Africa's King of Chenin, with a serious soft spot for Naked Angels
Bruwer won ‘Winery of the Year’ in South Africa’s Platter Guide awards... where a record-breaking eight wines grabbed 5 stars. EIGHT!
This is huge news in the wine world, and a real milestone for Bruwer. It puts him and his wines up there with the some of best in the world. And he owes it all to Angels
Angel backing has helped him go from strength to strength over the years, giving him the confidence to go out on a limb and make wines other winemakers could only dream of. And now it’s finally paying off, he wants to share the success with you.
Map of the Vineyard
Bruwer Raats's Story
"Attitude is key...it is critical that the winemaker and everybody that helps them has a positive energy in the vineyard and the cellar, as I believe that this has a positive effect on the wine".
I did not choose winemaking, winemaking chose me. I remember picking grapes in 1992 in Stellenbosch, and I was so happy, I knew that if I became a winemaker I would feel like a king.
There are five things that I always have in mind when winemaking...
1. Balance: whatever you try to do in the vineyard, and however you make your wine, the most important aspect is to find a balance between all the components in the wine.
2. Complexity: the challenge is to not show one particular flavour component of a variety but to show an array of flavours on the nose and pallet that a particular variety has to offer.
3. Elegance: what's needed to make a powerful wine that has a lot of finesse and elegance.
4. Attitude: it is important that the winemaker and everybody that helps them has a positive energy in the vineyard and the cellar, as I believe this has a positive effect on the wine.
5. Belief: it is of utmost importance that the winemaker believes in what he does as that confidence will show in the wine and highlight the creative side of what they are doing.
Talking of belief... I believe in sustainable farming. This means that whatever I do, I try and leave the soil in a better condition than when I found it. In general,I use organic and biodynamic practices and principles.
I have realised, however, that whatever techniques you use as a winemaker, none have such a big impact on the process as having a positive energy in the vineyard and in the cellar (one of my key points!). It's vital that everybody you work with focusses on making a unique and special wine, rather than applying fancy and clever techniques.
A few Naked Extras about Bruwer:
* He once slept in a cellar for a week during his first harvest as winemaker in Delaire in 1997 (which consequently paid off, as the Delaire Chardonnay was voted the best new world white wine by Decanter...)
* As well as considering himself a 'green' winemaker, Bruwer tells us he's often quite green in the mornings after he's been to his favourite pub in the Stellenbosch (De Akker). A true drinker then!
* One of his pet hates - people who make wine according to specs and recipes in order to win accolades, trophies and awards. One of the most 'uncreative and heartless thing' a winemaker can do
* He couldn't do his job without... his loving wife Janice. She runs his business when he's not there, looks after their three boys (Samuel, Joshua and Daneel), looks after the house AND is a practicing attorney. So superwoman by the sounds of things...
* The wine Bruwer compares himself to is a Classic Bordeaux Blend - very complex, powerful and yet so elegant!
* His favourite pastime? Having a braai with friends and family. Lamb chop and boerewors on his stoep... a true South African
* And his finest winemaking moment? That hasn't happened yet. If ever my school (Grey College Bloemfontein) would ask me to address the boys in assembly, as so many Springboks, national sportsmen, politicians and great people of South Africa have done before, then this would be my finest winemaking moment
* Produces an upper-scale product of high and consistent quality which they have managed to maintain throughout its range of wines.
* Quality driven and have set high standards for themselves to ensure the overall quality of the product meets with consumer satisfaction.
* Produce wine that represents SA Terrior and therefore tastes completely different from any other country in the world.
* The only Cabernet Franc specialist in South Africa.
* Family run operation which is hands on and do everything themselves.
* Maintains complete control of viticulture at these sites, located at an average of 250m above sea level in the prime Bottelary Hills, Simonsberg, Helderberg and Blaauwklippen areas of Stellenbosch.
* Soil specific and only sources Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc from several extremely low-yielding old vine parcels characterised by complex soils of table mountain sandstone and decomposed dolomite granite.
* Produces just over 10 000 cases of 12 (120 000 bottles or 90 000 litres) of wine per annum and harvests grapes from about 25ha in total.
* All the vines are located in Stellenbosch region with +- 80% of plantings being Chenin Blanc and only 20% Cabernet Franc.
* Philosophy: Leave the soil in a better condition than what you found it in. This goal underlies all our actions and decisions.
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