Greg Landman meets the country’s top winemakers. This month is the turn of Susan Erasmus of Vrede en Lust.
Words: Greg Landman
Susan was born in Bellville in 1981. Her father was a great wine lover and she and her siblings grew up with wine at the table in the European manner, which obviously went a long way to inspire her future career. Her brother is a sommelier and will be furthering his studies at Geisenheim in Germany.
After studying at Stellenbosch, Susan worked with De Wet Viljoen at Neethlingshof for two years and says she will always look up to him. She also spent time in France gaining invaluable experience.
“The interaction of nature, science and art is the perfect combination needed to create wine – and this is what attracted me,” she says.
Susan met her husband Arné, a viticulturist, “via a grape bunch in 2005”, and the couple lives on the farm where Arné works, together with their kids, a “darling” three-year-old girl and an “energetic” two-year-old boy. Susan says Arné “shapes up quite well in the kitchen”, which is just as well because the youngsters can be a handful in restaurants.
Any seaside holiday with a long, white beach is her idea of a perfect holiday, especially Buffelsbaai close to Knysna. She would like to travel more, taste more wines, and enjoy our beautiful country with friends.
The Vrede en Lust estate is deliciously poised between parts of the most famous Cape Wineland areas. Almost Paarl, almost Franschhoek, some way from Klapmuts, it seems to draw a bit of the best from them all. The distant Simonsberg mountains complete the quintessential Cape setting. The winery relies solely on solar power, making it unique.
The current owners, brothers Dana and Etienne Buys, acquired the two farms that form Vrede en Lust in 1996. Their maternal grandfather was rugby legend Boet Erasmus, who instilled in them a love of fine wine.
Winemaker Susan Erasmus (no relation), winner of the Woman Winemaker of the Year Award 2007, has been making prize-winning wines here since 2006. She uses fruit from Vrede en Lust, as well as from a newly acquired farm called Ricton close by, and from the owners’ other farm, Casey’s Ridge, in the Elgin area, where slower-ripening vineyards yield excellent grapes for certain varietals.
This approach enables Susan to use different terroirs for different needs, expanding the palette she works with immeasurably. The result is a delicious range of fruit-powered wines that don’t have to be manipulated and are magnificent examples of the winemaker’s art.
A superb blend of six varietals from their Casey’s Ridge vines at Elgin. Deliciously fruity on the nose with a soft-mouth feel and a long citrusy finish. Perfect foil for good old fish and chips. R69
Magnificent example of the best Chenins we have. Ten months’ lees exposure and French-oak fermentation pays off in powerful flavours of marmalade and irresistible tang. Best on its own but also perfect with creamy pasta. R120 at the cellar.
Paying homage to a rugby legend, this Bordeaux-style blend is intense with dark-berry flavours and aromas, elegance and power, perfectly balanced. Great with steak and red-meat dishes. R175