South Africa has got more than his fair share of talented young winemakers, but none more so than Reenen Borman who is taking the Boschkloof wine estate on to a whole new level with his Epilogue Syrah and helped make the Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc that Tim Atkin MW says is his “white wine discovery of the year”.
Reenen Borman of Boschkloof estate in South Africa is making waves not only at home but increasingly overseas for his wines including Rhône-style Syrahs and modern Chenin Blancs.
Reenen Borman is already making a big reputation for himself even though he has only been making wine on his family winery since 2010 after graduating in viticulture and oenology from Elsenberg Agricultural College.
Borman has followed in his father’s footsteps in making wine on the 25 hectares of the Boschkloof estate, which is situated around five miles from the wine hub of Stellenbosch town.
Jacques Borman, left, first started the winery in 1996 after a career working at some of the most prestigious South African estates, including assistant winemaker at Simonsig and head winemaker at La Motte. He even worked alongside renowned French wine consultant, Michel Rolland, during his time as production director for Rupert and Rothschild.
It is a pretty impressive track record for his son, Reneen, to learn from and follow. Not surprisingly his love for wine started at an early age, but particularly during his father’s days at La Motte in Franschoek valley.
He recalls: “I still remember how I went and secretly drank all the left overs in the wine glasses after people tasted the wine on the farm. I’ve never looked back since.”
He is also quick to recognise the role his father played in helping become a winemaker in his own right.
“My father also played a big role in my decision to be a winemaker. He is a very humble person and always motivated me to follow in his footsteps. He has also taught me the ropes about not only making wine, but how to make wine part of your lifestyle.”
He adds: “When one makes wine with passion it will show in the quality of the wines.”
Borman says he also learnt a lot by travelling to France and the Rhône valley to do a vintage after completing his oenology studies.
“I went to Domaine des Martinelles in Hermitage for a harvest. There I learned a great deal about Shiraz and experienced the passion the French have for wine. This put me in the right path for when I returned to make wine at Boschkloof,” he says.
He is already well on his way to making his own mark on the South African wine scene. Thanked in no small part to the prime real estate that the Boschkloof winery is situated, ideal for producing quality red wines.
The name of the winery is thought to be derived from appearance of a natural ravine, or “kloof”, on the farm and as well as being ideal for vine growing, it is also home to several wildlife species including deer, porcupines, mongoose and game fowl.
The winery sits on land that benefits from warm to hot days, but then cools down in the late afternoons and evenings thanks to the ocean breeze to produce full, crisp and healthy fruit.
With effectively a Mediterranean climate and heavy lime rich soils it is well placed to make premium wines grown primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah.
This is very much a hands on winery with great care taken to ensure plantings of vines are between 3,800 to 4,800 vines per hectare. This ensures lower yields of around five to eight tonnes per hectare of optimal quality grapes.
Right place, right time
“The biggest problem of winemaking in South Africa is people planting cultivars that sell and not planting the right cultivars that belong in those certain terroirs. Boschkloof luckily has superb soil for Syrah and I think that is the backbone cultivar when one mentions Boschkloof,” he explains.
This is encapsulated in the stunning Rhône-style Epilogue Syrah, produced from a single vineyard block, and is good for maturing for at least 10 years (available in the UK through Edgmond Wines).
“The wine I am most proud of making to date has to be the Epilogue 2013 single vineyard Syrah of Boschkloof. It shows true characters of the Syrah grape and the clone that we have with perfumed fruit and floral notes.
“This is the style of Syrah that I like to drink as well. I think the main reason is because I am such a lover of Côte Rôtie wines from the Rhône. Here you get enticing aromas with elegant but great intensity on the palate,” he says.
Pioneering Chenin Blanc
Borman is also receiving great reviews for his Patatsfontein Chenin Blanc wine, also available through Edgmond Wines in the UK, which is only vinified at Boschkloof and made some miles away in Montagu.
He is producing the wine in conjunction with fellow winemakers, Fritz Schoon and Henk Kotze, on a plot of land, named after the sweet potato farm that was once there. The grapes from the land were being sold to the local co-op but friend and leading South African winemaker, Chris Alheit, on scouting the land encouraged them to start making their own wines from the 15 hecatares of Chenin Blanc.
This is modern style South African Chenin Blanc made from some of the old vines that can only be found in select areas of the Cape.
He says the ambition for Patatsfontein is to “make terrior driven wines from a forgotten area called Montagu”.
He adds: “The first two vintages have exceeded all expectations which shows that when given the right attention to detail certain grapes will show well in the wine. At the moment we have a single vineyard Chenin Blanc as well as a blend of Colombard and Chenin Blanc from Montagu. Both are true expressions of the place they are grown.”
The Chenin Blanc Patatsfontein Steen has already become a much sought after wine and is gaining rave reviews in influential wine blogs like Jamie Goode’s Wine Anorak website and the 2014 vintage which Tim Atkin MW described as his “white wine discovery of the year”.
Goode gave the wine an impressive 93 out of 100 score praising its “lovely purity and precision” and describing it as “very fresh, fine and pure with lovely acidity…taut and mineral with fine fennel notes and hints of quince”.
The wine benefits from the hot days and cool nights common in the Montagu area.
Reneen is happy to be part of South Africa’s future generation of young winemakers: “I think South African wine is very exciting at the moment. We are seeing more site specific wines being made with personality rather than the general commercial styles.”
As for Boschkloof and his own future, Reneen is very clear.
“Boschkloof will always be my main focus. I would like to make the highest quality and purest Syrah possible that our vineyards will allow.”
Outside of wine Reneen’s other big passion is playing golf and likes nothing better after a long hard day either in the winery or the golf course to head to Glentana on the South African east coast.
“That is my favourite sun set looking over the ocean with a glass of nice Burgundy Pinot Noir or a great Syrah.”