District Mail

New wine­maker for Eik­endal farm

- Alcoholic Drinks · Wine · Switzerland · Cape Town · Stellenbosch University · California · Bordeaux

SOM­ER­SET WEST – Eik­endal Win­ery has em­barked on a new era with the of­fi­cial ap­point­ment of Maryke Botha as its wine­maker.

She takes over the reins from cellar mas­ter Nico Grob­ler, whom she served as as­sis­tant wine­maker. Grob­ler de­parts the win­ery af­ter an 11-year ten­ure to de­velop his own wine project. “We ap­pre­ci­ate Nico’s sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to Eik­endal and we wish him well on his next ad­ven­ture,” said Chris Saager, whose Swiss fam­ily has owned Eik­endal since 1981.

Botha hits the po­si­tion with a bang too, crown­ing her as­cen­sion with a gold medal for the Eik­endal Rosé 2020, the first wine she re­leased as full wine­maker. The ac­co­lade was awarded at the most re­cent Gil­bert & Gail­lard In­ter­na­tional Chal­lenge.

As ex­ec­u­tive re­spon­si­ble for busi­ness con­trol as well as sales and mar­ket­ing over­seas, Saager added the team is ex­cited to see Botha take on her new role. “We have been im­pressed by her per­son­al­ity and skills in the vine­yards and cellar – a tes­ti­mony to Nico’s ex­cel­lent men­tor­ship.”

Like her pre­de­ces­sor, Botha be­gan her ca­reer as a wine­mak­ing in­tern at Eik­endal in 2016. She was raised on the East Rand and ini­tially qual­i­fied as an op­tometrist with a spe­cial­i­sa­tion in sports vi­sion. A move to the Cape set fire to her en­chant­ment with wine and led her to com­plete a wine­mak­ing de­gree, cum laude, at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity.

Un­der Grob­ler’s tute­lage, her tal­ent was quickly re­vealed and she fur­ther honed her skills with har­vest stints at Do­maine Loren­zon in Bur­gundy and DuMOL Win­ery in Rus­sian River Val­ley in Cal­i­for­nia.

This year’s har­vest was the first that Botha shoul­dered as Eik­endal’s wine­maker. All 2020 white wines have been pro­duced un­der her lead, while she also shared re­spon­si­bil­ity for Eik­endal’s 2019 reds and from the pre­ced­ing year, for the Eik­endal Clas­sique Bordeaux blend.

“I am ex­tremely ex­cited about the wine,” she said about the Eik­endal Rosé 2020. “It has the most beau­ti­ful sug­ges­tion of colour, with an amaz­ing flavour pro­file – a com­bi­na­tion of red berries, candy floss and rose­wa­ter, with a gen­tle yet lively, crisp and re­fresh­ing acid­ity.”

The mer­lot that takes up the lion’s share of the blend hails from the high­est vine­yard on the es­tate. Its out­stand­ing char­ac­ter is fur­ther crafted with touches of Grenache, Cin­sault and Mourvè­dre. It is a fine, first am­bas­sador of Botha’s skills and in­sights, but also as a proud new ad­di­tion to the renowned Eik­endal port­fo­lio.

“Em­ploy­ing an ap­proach syn­ony­mous with Swiss qual­ity, Eik­endal prides it­self on be­ing de­tail-ori­en­tated,” said Botha. “Fo­cus be­gins in the vine­yard and is ap­plied through pre­ci­sion viti­cul­ture. Ev­ery block of vine­yard is cul­ti­vated in its own unique way to en­sure the high­est qual­ity grapes are pro­duced. Dif­fer­ent trel­lis­ing and train­ing sys­tems are some­times im­ple­mented on a sin­gle va­ri­ety to en­sure the style of wine we want to pro­duce can be ob­tained with min­i­mum in­ter­ven­tion in the cellar.

“We want to be able to taste the wine in the grape bunches and carry that so the ter­roir shines through in the glass.”

In re­spect of this year’s har­vest, Botha is happy and re­ports that qual­ity is out­stand­ing. Mod­er­ate tem­per­a­tures at the start of sum­mer al­lowed for ideal slow and even ripen­ing.

Chardon­nay yields are up on the pre­vi­ous year and the qual­ity is out­stand­ing while a later surge in tem­per­a­tures spurred the ripen­ing of the tail-end red va­ri­eties.

 ?? Photo: Cor­nelius Muller ?? Maryke Botha is the new wine­maker at Eik­endal Wine Es­tate.
Photo: Cor­nelius Muller Maryke Botha is the new wine­maker at Eik­endal Wine Es­tate.

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