Greg Landman meets the country’s top winemakers
Karl always wanted an indoors/outdoors job and thought that forestry would do the trick, so he enrolled at Stellenbosch, graduating with two degrees. He says, “My time there allowed for luxurious immersion in all things grape!” A visit to Glen Carlou wine estate with friends, who asked if a wine “had been in new oak”, intrigued him so much he went back to university for three more years to study viticulture.
A Pongrácz Scholarship led to his becoming senior white winemaker at Die Bergkelder, but his heart was in bespoke winemaking. He recently became a farmer in Wellington, where he lives with his partner, 50 chickens, 20 ducks and geese, and a Hungarian Vizsla called Rez, an indiscriminate pointer who “suffers great humiliation from pointing at the occasional guinea fowl”.
Steeped in history and with an excellent restaurant, Grande Provence in Franschhoek is just the place to spend a few hours tasting wine, eating and relaxing in an elegant, unintimidating environment. It belongs to the Huka Group that also owns luxury accommodation in New Zealand and Fiji, and is the home of the famous Angels Tears wines. Winemaker Karl Lambour fits right in – urbane, polished, with the air of a successful businessman. One would never think he was capable of making wine, yet that’s what he does, brilliantly.
With a pedigree including Constantia Glen, Die Bergkelder and Meerendal, he has become one of the best we have. His prize-winning wines are fruit driven, deliciously intense without being precious, some serious, others just the thing to knock back when you’re thirsty. He says, “Grande Provence soils lend wonderful freshness and distinct fruitiness to the wines,” adding that he learnt from his mentor, André van Rensburg (Vergelegen), “to keep things simple”.