Ryan Mostert with his Silverwis and Terracura wineries is proud to be one of the younger, smaller players that are making waves of their own in South Africa. But he says he could not be making the wines he wants at Silverwis & Terracura without the support of his fellow New Wave winemakers across the Cape that together have been able to create an “incredible energy” to make “authentic wines”.
Swartland might only account for a small percentage of South Africa’s overall wine, but its influence grows and grows thanks to the passion of winemakers such as Ryan Mostert and his Silwervis & Terrucura wines who was showing his wines at this week’s New Wave South Africa tasting in London.
Why are you involved in the New Wave South Africa tasting? What do you hope to achieve?
I think there is a great sense of adventure among wine drinkers around the world lately. There is a lot of open minded wine drinkers on the search for delicious but authentic wines and London is without a doubt of the capitals of this movement. New Wave has become a huge nexus, it draws together such an incredible energy and so many people who looking for exciting authentic wines out of South Africa. It’s a huge platform for smaller younger wineries like ours.
Were you at the first New Wave tasting?
No but I was acutely aware of it – I couldn’t stand to be missing out on it. I lived it vicariously through all of my friends who were there. It felt like a seminal moment in South African wine. How often do you get Jancis Robinson MW tasting you know?
There seems to be a camaraderie amongst winemakers in South Africa, why do you think that is?
There definitely is a very tight camaraderie. It’s played a huge part in my life, we are new, we are a startup and over the last few years we have had a groundswell of support and help from fellow established winemakers here. It’s something that comes naturally to us and we will play it forward. We are one big family and we love any excuse to get together.
Who has been your greatest influence, both internationally and locally?
This is a hard question to answer with any sense of brevity! In South Africa it would be the wines that Tom Lubbe left behind from his time making wine in the Swartland, the old Observatory wines and to this day Eben Sadie. When I first heard Eben speak and tasted his wines it was obvious that here was someone who really believed in and loved the land the, terroirs and got it to bottle. I feel the same. That was then, nowadays there are so many people I admire.
Abroad it’s the Jamet family. The way they approach and translate to bottle their terroirs is so true, so authentic and the wines are so so haunting, it’s a no brainer. I start working harvest with them next week, I can’t wait!
Have there been significant developments for you and your winery in the last two years?
There have been very big significant developments for us since we crushed a handful of grapes in 2014 and really started in 2015. We’ve trickled out a few releases but are really only finding our feet and everyday we define what we want to do more clearly. There years are the most exciting. At the New Wave tasting we will be releasing our first take on Syrah from the Swartland soils. Its a great time.
How do you see the overall South African wine industry?
The advances have almost been anti-advances, simply a return to glorifying the vineyard and the farming rather than the cellar. We have gone very hands off looking for the voice of the vineyards in our wines. At the niche end this is the case and it’s never been so exciting as a whole new crop of growers start to unlock what’s planted out there. In the greater commodity wine industry things are a lot tougher. The droughts we are having and the general economic maladies make the bulk end of our industry very tough.
What challenges are there for you and the industry as a whole?
For us, and for people that work like us, our biggest challenges are the climatic conditions, it’s very very dry right now. The economics behind farming. Our life work will be building sustainability economically and socio-economically, also improving our skill in the vineyards. Getting more respect shown to vineyards themselves a la Burgundy
How do you see the UK market?
London is one of the great centres of wine. Here are so many people who really get it, are really dialled in to the rush of drinking great terroirs. For a winery with our approach this is exactly the place that we need to be. Wine is a craft. We are artisans, but there is undoubtedly an emotional magic in a great wine moment, that is one of the greatest reasons to do what we do. For people to have these moments and that happens a lot in the UK
What other markets are opening up for you around the world – and why?
Japan, Norway and Sweden have been great recent markets for us. I believe these countries also have a deep culture of great cuisine and looking to have great emotional moments through wine and food and this is why our wines work there.
Give us your elevator pitch why a buyer should come and taste your wines at the New Wave South Africa tasting?
I’m not great at sales pitches. It’s kind of anti what we do. We don’t make wine for the market or trend we make it because the terroirs and people we work with move us and we believe there is a real power in drinking something authentic from an incredible piece of land. Free of any artifice or conformity to trend or a market just the raw, visceral taste of the land. That is what we do and will do year in year out.
If you’ve previously spent time in the UK what is your:
Favourite British dish
Venison and game bird, eaten in an old hunting pub.
Favourite restaurant and why
Mine is a hunting pub called The Pot Kiln in the Berkshire countryside. Its quintessential old school England. A hunting inn doubling up as a country pub to serve what they shoot. The food is wild and it’s sighted in a conservation area surrounded by natural woods and there a lot of farms to look at along the way. It’s so close to the earth and just natural.
Best place for a drink?
I love all the awesome wine bars. Anywhere that has something mature and staff that like pulling cork on special bottles just for the celebration of it.
What you are drinking when you are in the UK?
Rare wines, from some of my idols, stuff like Cornas from Allemand or Saumur from Clos Rougeard.
Favourite city in the world?
Best thing to do as a tourist in London?
Art galleries. Anywhere where there a lot of Francis Bacon works hanging.
Best place to go to meet another South African?
High Timber restaurant! I love it anytime I get to catch up with the proprietor Neleen Strauss. She’s a legend and she hosts with a typical South African grace.
- Ryan was showing his wines with his UK importer, Gudfish, at this week’s New Wave Tasting which was held on October 11 at Village Underground, 54 Holywell lane, Shoreditch, EC2A 3PQ.
- You can keep up to date with the latest news about the New Wave event at #ridethesecondwave #newwaveSA.