ELY Wine Bar, 22 Ely Place, Dublin 2
Wednesday 15th June
Momento, Walker Bay, was born out of a passion for Mediterranean varieties and old-vine fruit. Momento is a solo project from dynamic winemaker Marelise Niemann. Marelise earned her stripes as the winemaker at Beaumont Family Wines from 2007 to 2014, sharing cellar space with Crystallum’s Peter-Allan Finlayson and Thorne & Daughters’ John Thorne-Seccombe. She has also worked in California, Rhône, Burgundy and Portugal. Her fascination with Grenache was sparked while in Priorat in 2010 where, together with winemaker Eben Sadie, she was impressed by the fresh, vibrant fruit produced by the old vines. On her return to South Africa, she began seeking out parcels of old-vine Grenache to make her own elegant and soulful wines.
Marelise champions varieties which flourish in South Africa’s warm, dry climate and truly express their origins. The fruit is sourced from vineyard parcels in the Swartland and Bot River. The Swartland’s low rainfall, combined with decomposed granite soils, results in wines with richness and depth. In Bot River, the cooling Atlantic influence, coupled with shale and clay soils, contributes to the precise fruit and elegant texture of these wines.
Thorne and Daughters
Thorne and Daughters, Western Cape is widely acknowledged as one of the forerunners of the ‘New Wave’ wine movement in South Africa. Since 2013, John and Tasha Thorne-Seccombe have been producing innovative wines sourced from selected growers across the Western Cape. In the early 2000s, winemaking took the couple around the world, and they spent a few years in the UK, where John studied viticulture at Plumpton College while working part-time at Majestic Wines and Ridgeview. Among his early achievements on an expansive CV, John’s keen eye for vineyard design led him to establish the first vineyards at Steven Spurrier’s Bride Valley in Dorset.
Back in South Africa, a happy encounter with two similarly trailblazing young winemakers, Chris Alheit and Peter-Allan Finlayson, helped to lay the foundations for the first vintage of Thorne & Daughters. John and Tasha shared a small cellar with Chris and Peter-Allan until they later moved to rented cellar space at Gabriëlskloof, where the wines are made today.
Thorne & Daughters is mainly focused on producing Cape white blends, from grapes sourced from 15 different growers in Bot River, Stellenbosch, Voor Paardeberg, Swartland, Citrusdal, Franschhoek and Overberg. Fruit sourcing has relied on knocking on doors and a network of close winemaking friends to gather the various parcels with which they work. John and Tasha did not want to be limited geographically, so the net was cast wide and has been driven by “a happy synergy of people, place, soil and vines”. As John puts it, he aims to look for vineyards which combine these four elements and then seeks to do the vineyard justice in the cellar. Each relationship is unique but, where possible, they apply the ‘lutte raisonnée’ approach to farming, working closely with growers to help eradicate the use of chemical herbicides and fungicides, and to build “thriving” soil health.
John and Tasha’s approach to vinification is relatively simple. For the white wines, they generally work with no additions of any sort to the must. The wines are fermented using indigenous yeasts in old French oak barrels, ranging in size from 225 to 600 litres, where they remain during malolactic fermentation. The white wines tend to stay on their lees until blending, which takes place in the November following the harvest. The same minimal intervention philosophy applies to their red wines, where they aim for gentle extraction. The inclusion of stems and whole clusters helps to support the structure of the reds, thereby avoiding the need for new oak.