Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Kleine Zalze (South Africa): change of winemaker

Johan Joubert 

After 12 years as winemaker Johan Joubert has left the Kleine Zalze estate, producer of some fine and very interesting Chenin Blanc as well as other wines. See post on their Chenin Blanc here. Alastair Rimmer has been appointed to replace Joubert. 

Press release (edited):Kleine Zalze Wines in Stellenbosch is delighted to have secured the services of internationally experienced cellarmaster, Alastair Rimmer who takes up the reins in September 2014.

Johan Joubert, cellarmaster for the past twelve years, is moving onto new pastures with the warm thanks of the team for his contribution to the Kleine Zalze journey so far. Owner and MD Kobus Basson says “We are very grateful for Johan’s hard work and dedication to Kleine Zalze over the years. He has done a wonderful job for us and he remains a welcome friend and will always be an integral part of the history of Kleine Zalze. We wish him all the success in the world with his future ventures.”

Kobus goes on to say “We are excited about the next chapter in Kleine Zalze’s history and after careful consideration we are pleased to announce the addition  of Alastair to the established Kleine Zalze team. Alastair has worked extensively in the international market and brings with him a wealth of experience having worked in both big commercial wineries as well as super premium boutique producers in South Africa and abroad.” New cellarmaster, Alastair, takes up his duties in September 2014 and is looking forward to bringing his international experience to complement the dynamic winemaking team, currently lead by RJ Botha.

Alastair’s wine journey began in Stellenbosch when he was inspired to change his studies from horticulture to viticulture by a chance meeting with the legendary Professor Eben Archer. Alastair describes chatting to an unknown stranger on the steps of the Neethling Building. “He spoke passionately about “growing” wine, a concept that really sparked an interest. It’s amazing to think that a random meeting on the steps outside the Viticulture and Oenology building was in fact the catalyst, not just for a career, but a passion for wine and the industry around it.”

Following his studies, Alastair worked at Overgaauw Wine Estate, Agusta Wines and Vergelegen Wines, before taking the decision in 2004 to expand his knowledge and experience by working overseas. He worked in Marlborough, New Zealand and then in Jumilla in Spain, where his time at Bodega Juan Gil gave him his first chance to develop and make wines specifically for the American markets, something which he achieved to much acclaim from critics such as Robert Parker. Following this success he was recruited as winemaker and vineyard manager for Diablo Grande Winery & Vineyards in the San Joaquin Valley, California where Alastair spent three years turning around this boutique operation and contributing substantially to their growth and improved brand recognition.

In 2008, Alastair met the man who was to become the second great influence on his career in wine. Chris Ringland from Belvidere Estate in South Australia is widely-regarded as one of the most dynamic figures and cutting-edge winemakers in the wine world today. Alastair was entrusted by Chris with management of all the US operations of The Grateful Palate, a high-end operation creating top-quality wines for exclusive local markets. He also worked alongside Chris on his Australian operations, producing much larger volumes of more accessible wines, enabling him to get a good understanding of both boutique and commercial ventures.

Further projects in Alicante, Spain ensued, allowing him to also work vintages at southern hemisphere estates such as Vergelegen alongside Andre van Rensburg, at the same time. Alastair finally returned to South Africa on a permanent basis when he was appointed head winemaker at Darling Cellars two years ago and now brings his wide knowledge and experience of small, medium-sized and large winemaking ventures to Kleine Zalze.

Alastair believes his time working in such varied conditions has helped him to focus on the ‘important’ elements, irrespective of the area or style of wines he was making. “In my opinion, balance is the single most important factor in winemaking. Popular wine styles in the modern wine world are for ever changing, but balance never goes out of fashion!!” He is also a big fan of diversity of terroir, and believes that it is crucial that winemakers take into account the conditions within which they are given to work.'


No comments: