Firstly, we would like to wish you a belated happy new year. We hope it is one of success, fulfillment and peace.
This festive season, we spent some time asking some of Naudé Wines’ biggest fans what they wanted to hear about at the start of the year. The answers, unsurprisingly, all followed a theme:
“What does Ian like drinking?”
“What does Ian have up his sleeve for this year?”
“What does Ian think about when he’s sleeping?”
You get the idea. And as a somewhat mercurial winemaker with a firm eye on the future, we decided to ask him a few questions that are certainly interesting now, but might be even more illuminating in the months and years to come. So, this is Oom Ian in his own words.
Favourite wine this Christmas?
I had a wonderful treat, sharing a bottle of 2003 Allain Grillot Crozes Hermitage. We had that along with a 2000 Jamet Côte Rôtie and they were incredible.
What wine is in your fridge right now?
I hate to say it, because it’s my own wine and there’s nothing worse than someone who blows their own trumpet, but I’ve been drinking a lot of Oupa Willem recently. It’s a Cinsault / Cab blend and I’m so happy with how it turned out.
We’ll allow it. But is there a local winemaker whose wines you’re especially enjoying?
Yes. So many. But if I have to name one, Marelise Niemann from Momento Wines. Beautiful, focused wines. And great varietals. Also Donovan Rall. He’s such a lovely guy. Very humble and his wines are amazing.
What’s the next big thing?
Donovan Rall is a very big thing. But ja, all of our young winemakers. I actually need to get out of this bloody business. If I was 35-40 now I would have kakked off. I’m glad I’m on my way out, because these young guys and girls are so good!
Any in particular to keep an eye on?
Kosie from Elgin Ridge. I love that he’s not sticking to the script and is making interesting wines from an exciting region.
What do you think is the next big buzz grape varietal in South Africa?
That’s easy. Colombard is the new Cinsault which was the new Chenin.
But honestly, Chenin isn’t going anywhere. Everyone in the wine industry understands it will play a huge role in the future of fine wine in South Africa, but in the mainstream it’s only beginning to be understood. The bigger trend is for us to celebrate our heritage. Celebrating the grapes that are in the ground. And the reality is that these grapes are likely to define us more and more, because they are part of our story. And we do us better than anyone else.
What’s coming this year?
I’m quite excited about it, but over the last year, tasting through various barrels in the cellar, I’ve found one that continuously blows my mind. It’s very special. So we’re going to be bottling that barrel alone. There will only be a few hundred bottles, but I can’t wait for it.
How is the export situation?
I was very so happy to receive some great scores from Neal Martin at Vinous for my “A Naudé” Cinsault and Grenache, and we’ve been lucky to sell a lot of my wine overseas, but it’s tough out there right now. And it’s affecting everyone. People don’t have money at the moment, and that’s true not just in South Africa, but all over the world. The UK is a big market for me, but with Brexit and all the uncertainty, it’s tough.
What are you most proud of from last year?
Again, Oupa Willem. I’ve been wanting to celebrate our heritage for some time now, and as I said, am so happy with how the wine turned out and what it represents. It’s going to be very exciting to track its progress, because I think it will outlive me.
Favourite Restaurant in Stellenbosch
I don’t eat out that often, but I obviously love Bertus Basson’s restaurants and spend a lot of time at Spek and Bone especially. If I have a tasting, it’s likely to be there. Also, the Green Goose Eatery. That’s my new discovery.
Speaking of new discoveries, are you harvesting anything exciting this year?
YES. But I’m not giving anything away. It’s a big experiment, so I’ll tell you if I’m happy with it. Editor: it’s Colombard.