We met up with Clayton Reabow one Saturday morning and got to know him a little better over bottles of his beautiful Chardonnay. While we learnt some of the ABC’s about wine and winemaking, we learnt more importantly about Clayton’s CBA’s … “Chardonnay Before Anything”. Clayton is as charming as the wines he makes. Find out more about him in our Q &A below and watch our video interview with him here too.
What inspired you to make wine for a living?
My biggest inspiration was figuring out a way to leave the small townwhere I grew up and studying a course that was not offered at the regional universities. Winemaking at Stellenbosch University seemed to fit the bill nicely! On a serious note, I am a big advocate of “against the grain” mentality. I do not come from a wine heritage or even a family thatconsumed a lot of wine. The first time I discovered wine I was 15 years old. I realised that there was an opportunity for me to do something that was completely different to other career opportunities available to me at the time. Initially,my folks did not get it and thought I was being a teenager and making yet another bad decision. Now, they definitely don’t complain about the wine they receive each month.
What excites you about making wine?
A couple of things do. Firstly, I am obsessed withpushing the boundaries when itcomes to grape and wine production. I love the fact that you can manipulate a parcel of grapes in as many ways as you want and create a different wine each time. Where I can, I steer completely away from conventional and “recipe” winemaking. My goal each vintage is to create and implement as least one new concept of either a wine or production protocol that has never been done. I have had some crazy ideas in the past. Secondly, it is a great feeling tasting the fruits of your labour and being able to share that with other people who enjoy and relate to the product. I feel each vintage is better than the previous in terms of quality and it is very rewarding watching the wines evolve.
What are some of your favourite aspects of your wine region?
It’s great working in Franschhoek in a region that is seen as an underdog to the remaining regions. Franschhoek has become very fresh and modern in terms of its approach to viticulture and winemaking. It is exciting to be a part of a new wave of young winemakers that are evolving and changing the way wine is produced. The potential for change within the region is immense.We are only now beginning to carve out an identity for the region that will hopefully change the way consumers perceive and enjoy the wines produced within the valley.
Tell us about your best wine that you have brought to the market and what it felt like creating and sharing it?
Instead of telling you about the best wine we have already brought to market, I would rather provide you a sneak preview into a wine that I am in the process of making which is a complete new concept in terms of wine production and wine blending.At this point, all I can provide is that we plan on creating a unique blend that is Pinotage based and includes cultivars that have never been used before as blending partners with Pinotage. We have isolated unique vineyard sites and have created the components for the wine during the 2014 vintage. The wines have been produced inour distinctive style and are in a state of maturation. If all goes well, we plan on releasing the wine next year. My aim is to create a wine that re – invents how we perceive Pinotage in South Africa.
What’s your favourite wine and why?
Ultimately, my passion lies with Chardonnay. I love how variable the grape is and how many different and amazing wine styles can be produced from a single cultivar. At this point on Moreson wines, we have created five different single cultivar Chardonnay wines from our own estate grapes. Each wine has its own personality.
What would your message be to people discovering and drinking wine for the first time?
Go crazy! My message to everybody I meet, whether it be here at the farm or at trade tastings is to completely dismiss the “old school” notion or way of thinking inwhich they believe wine should be appreciated and enjoyed. That is the antiquated wine appreciation of smell, taste and spit. My advice to everybody exploring and discovering wine is to break this idea and just go wild. Enjoy the wine and don’t worry that you cannot smell the green pepper or the strawberry. Rather focus on what you love about the wine as opposed to what you don’t.
Wine lingo – your favourite wine word and what it means?
Poked – When a wine is terrible and tastes like shite, it is “poked”