The best that Rustenberg has to offer
21 September 2015
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Brad Brown: Welcome back to another edition of Old Mutual Live. Great things start here, great things start now. Welcoming back another returning guest to the podcast, Murray Barlow from Rustenberg. Murray welcome, nice to have you back on today. Last time we spoke, we chatted a little bit about the history of the estate and the family involvement on the farm.
The farm obviously, goes back a long-long way, and we’ll put the links to that podcast in this episodes show notes. I wanted to chat to you today a little bit about the wines you guys are producing and some of the fantastic wines, I might add, that come out of the Rustenberg stable.
Murray Barlow: Wonderful, great. I’m looking forward to talking to you about them.
BB: Murray, I met you a few months ago, during the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, where you guys absolutely cleaned up. You were the best producer on the show, and that was my first real, I mean I drank your wines, but my first real experience of Rustenberg wines. You guys have got some amazing, amazing wines that are coming out of that estate. Tell me a little bit about the thinking behind what goes into deciding what wines you do produce.
We are led by what grows well in the area
MB: Well, I think we’re very much led by what grows well in the Stellenbosch region. Here on Rustenberg, our focus on the farm, the core focus is Chardonnay, in the white wines, as well as Bordeaux red varietals. So in Bordeaux they plant five red varieties and the best known of those two are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. That’s really the core focus. Obviously, we’re really trying to focus on what blossoms here and what does fantastically well.
Around those two varieties, we’ve created a number of wines. We have three, sort of major divisions in our wine portfolio. We have two sight specific wines, or two single vineyard wines, people might have heard them referring to that term. These are very small productions. They’re from very unique vineyards that give us incredibly high quality, but generally quite small amounts of production.
Next, we have, what we call, our flagship range, so these are wines that are well known. People can find them quite widely, but they are the best expression of the estate, and there’s a Chardonnay, a Bordeaux blend and a single vineyard Syrah in that range.
Then we have what we call the Regional Range, so these are all wines from the Stellenbosch region. They’re mainly varietal wines, so they’re not necessarily blends. We have all the classic varieties people know, so things like Sauvignon Blanc, we have an unwooded Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, a Shiraz, and then a few other interesting wines in that portfolio. Quite an extensive portfolio, it’s about 14 wines in total.
BB: Tell me a little bit about your Marquee Blends.
Our Marquee Blends
MB: Well we have, the main blend we’re best known for is the John X Merriman, which is an estate wine. It’s a blend of the five Bordeaux varietals. I’ve mentioned Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, but we also blend in Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, into that wine. Really, it’s quite a labour of love. It’s a blend of up to 14 different vineyards.
We try and put the best wine of that vintage together. It’s aged for a total of 20 months, so it spends a good while in oak, and about a third of the wood mews is new, so a very traditionally made wine. A wine that’s designed for aging, but really tells a story of the vintage, and shows the identity of the estate, with each vintage we produce.
BB: It sounds amazing, and every sort of winery and winemaker believes that he’s got a wine that goes unrecognised. What would you say is your unsung hero?
MB: Wow, that’s a very interesting one. I think in South Africa we’re not known as a white wine farm, necessarily. We’re better known as a red wine producer and really, we produce nearly 40% of our production is in white wine. I would probably say Chardonnay in South Africa is something that we’re not often seen as being a great producer of Chardonnay. We export most of our Chardonnay, sadly, so I think a lot of South Africans have battled with Chardonnay in the past, with some very poor named examples.
What people often term the A, B, C, anything but Chardonnay drinkers, and we’ve seen that change. I think, for me it would be Chardonnay. I think we’ve seen the rebirth of how winemakers are making Chardonnay and how consumers are seeing Chardonnay. There are some lovely examples out there, so in South Africa, it would definitely be our Chardonnay.
BB: Right, fantastic, and as far as new and trying new things out. Have you got anything in the pipeline that we should know about and possibly look out for in the future?
What’s new from Rustenberg?
MB: Sure, we’ve got a couple of interesting wines, which we produce in small quantities and only sell from the estate. One of them is the Roussanne, and Roussanne is a very interesting variety. It’s a variety that comes from Rhone valley in France. It’s generally blended with varieties, such as Mason or Grenache Blanc, and some of you might have heard of Yonne, which is also blended with this variety. We were the very first producer to plant Roussanne, and we were the first to produce a single variety of Roussanne. We make about three thousand bottles a year. It’s only sold from the tasting, so that is also quite unique.
We’ve recently introduced a Rosé as well, made from the Petit Verdot grape, which is a Bordeaux variety. Again, small production, and only sold from the property, so really just a little sort of a teaser to get everyone to come out and see us and purchase directly from the farm.
BB: I love that. Murray, if we want to find out more about Rustenberg Wines. I know you guys have got a fantastic website. Where can people go?
MB: So Rustenberg’s website has just been overhauled. It is pretty much complete, and you can visit us on www.rustenberg.co.za. A lot of people confuse the spelling of Rustenberg, with the town, and this is a different spelling. It’s Rustenberg and not Rustenburg, so that’s how you get hold of us.
BB: It’s with an ‘E’ and not a ‘U’.
MB: That’s correct.
BB: We’ll pop the links to that website in the show notes of this episode of Old Mutual Live. We look forward to catching up again soon. Murray, thank you so much for your time today.
BB: We look forward to having a chat in the near future.
MB: Super. Thanks again.