Henry was born in King William’s Town and raised in Stutterheim, where his father, an avid wine lover, was an hotelier. The family always had wine on the table. When he was 11, the family moved to Stellenbosch, right into the heart of things, so to speak.
This early contact with the fine art of drinking wine (“I knew where my father kept all the vintage stuff”), had a profound influence on him. He studied at Stellenbosch and worked in the tasting room at Simonsig while doing so.
His first winemaking job was as assistant winemaker at Boschendal, followed by a period with Neil Ellis, “where I learnt a lot”, then to Eikendal, before joining Morgenster in 2009. He and his wife Riëtte were high school sweethearts and live in Somerset West with their two youngsters, 11 and 10. They both “dabble as aspiring chefs” but love eating out at some of the excellent restaurants in their area. Henry travels to France and Italy to keep abreast of all things vinous and says, “Wine is a permanently changing living thing, and I like the continuing challenge that it brings.” Family holidays are spent at “any place on the beach where you can see, smell, and hear the sea”.
Giulio Bertrand, the owner of Morgenster, is a perfect example of the power generated when the formidable combination of taste and money come to their natural conclusion. Add to that a very Italian emotion, passion, and the result could well be the beautiful Somerset West estate that he has made his home since 1992.
Synonymous with some of the very best olive oils in South Africa, as well as magnificent Bordeaux-style red wines, no effort is spared to make Morgenster the superb estate it is. Mr Bertrand’s motto is ‘Where there is passion, there is no compromise’, something his winemaker Henry Kotze takes as his mantra. Support is provided by French winemaker, Pierre Lurton of the famous Cheval Blanc estate in Bordeaux.
Henry’s wines are packed with intense, red-berry flavours, with judicious use of oak to support them where necessary. The reds are particularly fabulous but there are some excellent whites.
A visit to Morgenster, with its magnificent trees and new restaurant under the expert hands of Giorgio Nava, is just the ticket for a glorious day in the country.
A delicious Bordeaux-style blend led by Cabernet Franc with plenty of dark-red berry flavours and some spice, yet very vibrant and alive. Superb with red meat dishes and steak. Cool slightly in fierce summer heat. R179 at the cellar.
Fresh tropical notes on the nose herald full flavour in the mouth without being overly acidic as can be the case if not controlled –very quaffable. Fish dishes and roast chicken will love it. R74
Fabulous dark red colour, vibrant flavours, light, fresh and fruit driven, and great for lunch. Chill slightly and serve with robustly flavoured dishes. R96
Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate, Somerset West, 021 852 1738
Words: Greg Landman