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News from Stellenbosch Hills …

An excellent white to enjoy this Summer, and a new rising star winemaker.

This Summer we’re drinking Stellenbosch Hills 1707 White Reserve, a limited-edition wine that consistently amasses top-level ratings for the winery. It is a Chardonnay-driven blend with portions of Semillon and Viognier. The complex nose is aromatic and recalls fresh citrus, jasmine flowers and a hint of honey suckle. The palate is full bodied with zesty acidity, a concentrated mid palate and juicy tannins. Its richness makes it a good accompaniment to sushi, seafood curries, mussel soup, risotto and cream-based dishes. You’ll find it R135 at https://www.stellenbosch-hills.co.za/buy-our-wines/

We’re saying cheers, too, to Charl Myburg, who Stellenbosch Hills has just appointed to its team. This rising winemaker comes with broad experience of wineries (prior to this, he was senior winemaker at the Waboomsrivier Winery in the Breede River Valley). Apart from his own children – 10-year old Leroux and Amélie, who’s two years younger, his proudest achievement includes being part of the team that won the SA Young Wine Show’s General Smuts Trophy in 2012.

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The focus of his new position will be to build on the work of predecessor James Ochse and leading the winemaking team at this renowned winery in the Vlottenburg farming region just outside Stellenbosch. He’ll be heading up the making of the winery’s four main ranges: the Polkadraai easy-drinking wines; Stellenbosch Hills, barrel-matured red wines and expressive white single variety wines; 1707, comprised of a Reserve Red blend and Reserve White; and, Sense of Place terroir-specific wines.

In some ways, his appointment at Stellenbosch Hills has brought him full circle. The path that led him into the industry began with one memorable wine-tasting trip around Stellenbosch with friends in his matric year, he says, adding: “It definitely made an impact.”

“I always knew that I wanted to go into engineering or agriculture, so when I was introduced to the wine course during the open day at the University of Stellenbosch my mind was made up.” He later graduated with a BSc Agric in viticulture and oenology (specialised).

Today, Charl credits a number of people whom he says have “really changed my way of making wine and vineyard practices.

“The late Prof. Eben Archer was a good family friend and mentor. He had a wealth of knowledge but was still a great and humble person.  I didn’t attend his class, our group just missed him, but came to know him through my father-in-law (Charl’s married to Celeste, who he’s known since grade 1).

“For the past 10 years I’ve worked with viticulturist Pierre Snyman who has taught me everything I know about the vineyard; and, in my first job as cellar hand at Perdeberg Winery, I learned from Pieter Carstens how to handle pressure in a big environment.”

In terms of his approach to winemaking, Charl says this has certainly matured as well. “When I was young I wanted to make big, bold wines with structure that could last 20 years, but with experience you come to appreciate the pursuit of perfect balance,” he says.

The prospect of working at Stellenbosch Hills energises him because he thrives on collaboration with the farmers and growers. “It’s a format that I’m very used to and appreciate because good grapes lead to good wine. I’m excited about being able to learn and contribute.”

The most valuable lesson he has learnt as his career progressed was that you lose perspective when you get angry. “Take a deep breath and start again. Don’t speculate; get your facts straight,” he says.

Charl’s interests outside of work are varied. He describes himself as “a bit of an adrenaline junkie. One of my lifelong dreams was to become a pilot. I made it to my solo flights, but it became too expensive to continue. If I ever win the lotto, I’ll definitely pursue my private license!”

Details: https://www.facebook.com/StellenboschHills/ and Instagram @stellenbosch_hills.

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