Getting the chance to taste the wines of so many of the dynamic winemakers in South Africa in one place is why the New Wave tasting in London is such a draw. But it is also a huge opportunity for those winemakers to be able to showcase their wines to such an influential audience of buyers. Berene Sauls of Tesselaarsdal explains why she is so pleased to be able to come and show her wines as part of UK importer Swig’s portfolio.
Berene Sauls will be showing wines under her Tesselaarsdal label at the New Wave tasting in London on September 3. Wines that she hopes express the cool climate region of the Hemel-en-Aarde.
The breakthrough New Wave South Africa tasting hopes to live up to its word by showcasing some of the most cutting edge winemakers currently making wine in South Africa. The fact it is happening is thanks to the individual efforts of the winemakers, but also the collective efforts of the UK importers who are putting the tasting on for the third time. Importers that include Swig; Dreyfus Ashby; Indigo Wine; New Generation Wines; and Fields Morris & Verdin. Here’s Berne Sauls of Tesselaarsdal on why she is so pleased to be taking part.
Tell us about yourself and how you got into wine?
I started off my career in 2001 at a wine estate in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. I was very curious to know why the wines at Hamilton Russell Vineyards were so sought after and decided to learn and experience the delicate process from grape to bottle through assisting in the cellar and vineyard during harvests. I was able to get involved with the wine certification administration as well as export logistics and packaging.
In 2014, Anthony Hamilton Russell presented me with an opportunity to start my own business as a wine producer with grapes sourced from La Vierge’s Babylon Vineyards Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge. I focused on Pinot Noir as we were often compared to Burgundy and my palate was basically shaped by these wines. I recently added an amphorae aged Chardonnay to production to grow my business.
I named my business Tesselaarsdal which is the name of my home town about 24km north east of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, honouring my history. The maiden vintage 2015 Tesselaarsdal Pinot Noir was produced in collaboration with and under the mentorship of Hamilton Russell Vineyards Winemaker, Emul Ross.
What big changes have you made to your winemaking in the last five years?
My production is very limited but with Emul Ross, we also experimented with amphorae aged wines, of which in the last five years I have tasted quite a few and it turned out to be one hell of a Chardonnay. From the winemaking side I follow the expert approach from my mentor Emul Ross. I am involved in every aspect from the carefully picking of the grapes to whole berry bunch stomping, punch downs, bottling and labelling.
What are the biggest opportunities for you as a winemaker now?
The biggest opportunity as a producer is opening new markets, and to slowly make Tesselaarsdal known around the word. There are great wine shows and platforms to showcase quality wines from South Africa. I hope to grow my business so that I can eventually finalise buying property in Tesselaarsdal Overberg and plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes there. Another opportunity is my international marketing trip to UK for New Wave wine show 2019, sponsored by SAWITU – South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit.
Where are your biggest export markets and why?
The US and the UK – these countries have some of the best South African wine distributors, importers and high-end establishments willing to serve and list South African wines.
What advice would you give UK buyers and sommeliers about how best to taste and understand what is going on in South Africa?
South African wines are site specific and terroir driven. The biggest wine producing area is in the Western Cape. Our part Hemel-en-Aarde in the Walker Bay area makes cooler climate wines and is known for producing top quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc – it’s the same in Elgin. Bordeaux blends are found more in the warmer areas like Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschoek.
Swartland, which is influenced by on the West Coast, is also known for producing quality Pinotage and Cinsault blends. If you understand the areas and cultivars produced in certain areas – you are better equipped when you taste.
Why are you taking part in the New Wave tasting and what will you be showing?
Swig Wines my importers in the UK invited me to take part in the New Wave tasting to represent my wine at the show. I will be showing Tesselaarsdal Pinot Noir 2018 and my new addition to production Tesselaarsdal Chardonnay 2019.
What do you hope to achieve?
To have Tesselaarsdal wines better known in the UK. It is a great opportunity to interact with the trade, expand business and seal long lasting business relationships. I will also be marketing my Chardonnay due for release end September 2019.
Any other plans for when you are over in the UK?
Lots of trade visits and visiting some of the boutiques and restaurants that are stocking Tesselaarsdal wines. As as a tourist I am looking forward to taking a ride on the London Eye.
But I am extremely excited to join the New Wave team showcasing Tesselaarsdal. Aalot has gone into making this trip happen, I am going to enjoy and make the most of it – UK here Berene comes!
- You can keep up to date with the latest news about the New Wave event on Twitter at @NewWaveSA2019 and Instagram on newwavesouthafrica and at #newwaveSA.
- The Buyer will be featuring the other importers taking part and some of their South African winemakers taking part in the tasting in the days before the event.
- You can also find out what is happening across the country as part of Wines of South Africa’s South African Wine Festival 2019 that is happening in the first week of September.
- That will include a special restaurant “safari” on September 2 that The Buyer is holding in partnership with Wines of South Africa where we will be taking a group of wine buyers, sommeliers and wine merchants on a tour of different restaurants where we will be meeting South African producers along the way, and tasting their wines paired with food from that restaurant’s menu.