#FineWines: GREG LANDMAN meets the country’s top winemakers and samples their wares
Morné was born and raised in Calitzdorp, and grew up a close friend of Margaux Nel and her family on Boplaas. During the school holidays he worked in the Boplaas cellars, which fostered a love of the whole process. He studied agriculture at the Worcester College and his first job was at Hazendal where he fell under the influence of Ronelle Wiid (now the winemaker at Bartinney), who became his mentor.
Harvest seasons followed at Saint-Émilion in France, also in Germany and then in New Zealand. Morné lives in Paarl with his wife Steffi, who is the export manager at Diemersdal. They love entertaining and both of them cook – she in the French style and Morné excelling in ”lekker boerekos.” He says, “The whole house is about the kitchen,” so we know where their priorities lie.
One of the most spectacular settings in the Cape is on the Helshoogte Pass that leads from Stellenbosch, through Pniel, to Franschhoek. It seems fitting that this would be where to find Delaire Graff, a name synonymous with luxury across the world. The accommodation is superb, the restaurants are renowned, the artworks include Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl, the diamonds are spectacular and the wines – well, they fit into this milieu perfectly.
There’s no doubt that all this excellence spurs winemaker Morné Vrey to keep raising the bar for himself and for the prize-winning wines he makes. They have a freshness, which speaks of special care for the fruit at all stages of development, and meticulous attention to the craft of winemaking, using wood only where necessary to support great fruit flavours.
In addition to the Delaire Graff vineyards, fruit is sourced from the Olifantsrivier and Durbanville (sauvignon blanc), as well as Darling and the Swartland. Morné pays tribute to viticulturists Kallie Fernhout and Kevin Watt, without whom he says there would be no wine at Delaire Graff. As Morné says, “I let the grapes do the talking – the wines are my children.”
1. Chenin Blanc 2013: Fabulous example of original barrel fermenting and maturation in new French barrels, resulting in barely noticeable oaking, supporting lush rich fruit. R130
2. Sauvignon Blanc 2013: Fresh and crisp with layers of citrus fruits. Complex and vibrant, this wine has a delicious long finish and some minerality, as well as controlled acids that won’t strip off your palate. R79 in the tasting room.
3. Merlot 2012: Silky smooth with some spice lurking behind dark and delicious plummy flavours. A delicate grip and long finish. R149
DELAIRE GRAFF HELSHOOGTE PASS STELLENBOSCH 021 885 8160 www.delaire.co.za