The real Ceres riesling pioneer

It seems that there is going to be Ceres riesling made a few years before I was expecting….

Winter in Ceres

Ceres vines in winter – a photo from Razvan Macici

In my piece about Chris Alheit and his new riesling vineyard, I made a rather dismissive remark about Distell’s involvement in the area. Seems I should have done a bit more homework in that regard before being so blasé. Razvan Macici – the man who transformed Nederburg and who’s now Distell’s chief winemaker – wrote me a courteous email with some interesting facts about the mega-company’s 15-odd hectares on the Ceres plateau – some dating back seven or eight years.

Like Chris Alheit, Razvan is full of enthusiasm about the potential of winegrape-growing in Ceres: the “amazing terroir, the temperature differences between day and night, the cool continental climate, the winter snow, the soil, everything is conducive for the production of high quality wines”. As he says, in South Africa in search of coolness “you can go south or up … up in the mountains”.

Distell’s sauvignon blanc from Ceres already goes (in small volume) into Nederburg’s excellent Ingenuity white blend, and the Auction Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. There’s also some pinot noir, which Razvan calles “exciting”. And riesling – the youngest of the Distell plantings. Last harvest, says Razvan, the young riesling “produced the first grapes, very little, shy … and next year we are expecting the first couple of tons which will allow us to make a small volume of the first Ceres riesling”.

With the Cape’s largest wine producer in Ceres, and one of the Cape’s smaller and most fiercely quality-oriented, things are looking good.

And for me personally, another Ceres visit looms, as Razvan has offered to take me there “to see the vineyards, taste the grapes and the wines”. Can’t wait.

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