I don’t speak wine. I don’t know my legs from my nose and I wouldn’t know a flaccid wine if it hit me in the face. I do drink it though, in copious amounts and like everyone else I like what I like and the reasons are personal. It’s not just about taste, it’s the impression the wine creates in the mind, what it evokes – much like music or food or love. I learnt this from Abraham when he shared his wine and a bit of his soul with me. We shared our friends too: mine are not conversant in wine, his are; my friends brought bread, cheese and hangovers, his brought dark chocolate and Dalai Lama quotes. We broke bread and barriers and we shared it all over wine and a weathered wooden table at Druk My Niet Estate where Abraham de Klerk is the winemaker.
He’s a romantic, an old soul, a man of passion. Abraham gets excited when speaking of his wines and the challenge to produce that one perfect vintage, that one perfect wine – the exact challenge that keeps driving him season after season. He doesn’t believe in half measures and resents the fact that he has to produce a marketable range as well as his top end wines as they require equal passion and dedication. He’s a balls to the wall, all or nothing kind of guy and he’s eager to make his mark.
Druk-My-Niet belongs to Dorothea and Jorg Kirchner, a German couple who bought the dilapidated farm 6 years ago and have transformed it into a beautiful, dinky boutique estate, complete with passionate wine maker. The Druk My Niet range starts with the Mapoggo red and white blends, moves on to the ‘Find Art’ collection of single cultivars and peaks with their speciality blend estate wines, Invictus and T3.
At R50 (white) and R60 (red), the Mapoggos are good drinking and good value. The range is named after the famous war horse that led Boer commandos to safety in a storm and is now buried on the farm. Like their namesake, these wines are leading consumers by the nose, piquing interest and enticing them into the Druk My Niet cellars to see what else they have in store. If you have to offer a cheaper, more marketable range to get your name out there, then the Mapoggos will at least hold it up high. Produced with as much care as his estate wines despite his reluctance, Abraham has done himself proud. They Represent.
The Find Art range blends the owners’ love of art with their passion for wine and local talent. Each year they match Abraham’s single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec vintages with local art works which they then use on the labels (hence the ‘find art’). Abraham has lived up to the challenge, with his 2009 Cab Franc winning numerous accolades in Classic Wine magazine recently. As he explains, the difficulty of using just one varietal is that you have to ‘close the gaps’ naturally – you can’t add missing notes or characteristics by adding other varietals. To get this right you really have to know your grapes. It would seem he does.
But his raison d’etre are the estate wines, his speciality blends. It’s here where he’s given the freedom to express himself and to flaunt his talents to the max. He makes his living with the Mapoggos and Find Art wines where he has more than earned his keep… but this is where he makes his name. This is where he gets to put both Druk My Niet and Abraham de Klerk on the map.
The T3 is unique – unique in the sense that no one else in the world is making this blend of Tinta Amarella, Tannat and Tempranillo grapes. The vines grow well in the decomposed granite soil on the warm foothills of the Klein Drakenstein mountains producing small, rich, dark berries with thick skins and concentrated flavours. The simplicity of the label belies the delicious complexity of the contents.
Invictus, a Sint Emilion style blend, is the wine closest to Abraham’s heart. It reflects the influences of his years spent in the Bordeaux region, working the vines and honing his wine making skills. Invictus is a Merlot blended with a little Cabernet Franc and a little more Cabernet Sauvignon. The name is taken from the poem by William Ernest Henry and aptly reflects the attitude of the winemaker: “…master of his fate: captain of his soul…”. Abraham knows exactly what he wants out of a grape and what to do with it once he has it.
For such a hard-arsed perfectionist, Abraham is actually a deep and soulful guy. He lives fearlessly, loves completely and immerses himself fully into the vintage at hand. With this no holds barred attitude he has managed to produce both a life and a range of wines that are focused and complex with a long finish – he works with what nature gives him, extracts every last drop of terroir and then blends his personality into it.
Bodal Road, Daljosafat, Paarl, 7620
Tel: 021 868 2393