Yesterday, on a cold Cape rainy winters day, Lesley Cox and I headed through to meet the winemaker, Abraham, from Druk My Niet for a wine tasting. The drive there was wonderfully scenic, however the signage to Druk My Niet was a little lacking and we found ourselves a little lost. Abraham got a couple of phone calls from us and patiently guided us to his cellar. The estate is set with a dramatic mountainous backdrop and is dotted with Cape Dutch style houses. The
view of the autumn vines as we
arrived was quite simply gorgeous. This felt a little like a country adventure as it is well off the tourist beaten track. It is well worth the journey as the wines turned out to be excellent, the wine maker is passionate and talented, and the setting fantastic.
The estate dates back to 1682 when it was granted to the French Huguenot Francois du Toit. It was bought in 2002 by the Kirchners (a retired German Banker), and invested in at a later stage by their friends the Stein’s who currently reside in the UK.
Abraham, the winemaker, was enticed to join by the challenge of being offered control of the viticultural side, as well as the winemaking – hence the opportunity to control all aspects of his wines. At the time he was rather disillusioned by the world of wine making and was considering heading out of the industry, despite having spent years building up his experience in the industry. He studied wine making at Stellenbosch university, worked for Neil Ellis and various others, spent time working at overseas wineries and has now settled into his new challenge. He is passionate about increasing his wine making knowledge and as such is off to Tuscany now to work on one of their top vineyards for harvest. Abraham believes that the best route to wine making is minimum intervention combined with having high quality fruit, as well as rigorous hand sorting to ensure only the best grapes are used. He started by pulling out the sauvignon blanc on the estate (the area is too hot for the white varietals) and is aiming to produce high quality red blends. Abraham is farming in a green friendly way. He follows the guidelines of biodynamic farming (farming in tune to the phases of the moon), however he does not believe in using too much copper sulphate as he feels that continual use will lead to a build up of heavy metals in the soil.
Currently the estate has an entry level range called Mapoggo, followed by the DRUK MY NIET RANGE which includes an excellent Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon (I enjoyed all three – particularly the Malbec!). Both Leslie and I were concerned about the overseas market not being able to pronounce the brand name and as such this being a drawback for building brand equity in the overseas market. The labels on the Druk My Niet bottles will feature different art works each year. This release they feature the artwork of Rene Twigge. They have bought her beautiful paintings and they can be seen in the tasting room. The art is bright and vibrant and the labels really “pop” out at you. They were a great choice!
The interesting development is that they are getting ready to release super premium red blends. Interestingly enough – these labels will not have DRUK MY NIET on the front label, instead they will feature a single easy brand name, which will make it easy to remember. The labels are simple and beautifully designed. They look to me like the build up of Icon brands. I cannot wait to taste them – if the single varietal wines are anything to go by – these are going to be traffic stoppers!! Soon to be released in November 2011:
INVICTUS: A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc
(Sales price likely to be around R200 per bottle).
I would highly recommend including Druk my Niet into any trip to the Paarl wine region. I have a feeling that the new red blends are going to make their mark for Abraham and will reflect his talent as a wine maker.
UPDATE JAN 2017 – SADLY MOST OF THE ESTATE BURNT DOWN IN JANUARY 2017. It will take them many years to re-establish themselves. My heart goes out to them. It is beyond sad to lose one of the most beautiful estates in the Cape Winelands.