It was fellow writer Llewellyn Lambert who introduced me to the brand new winery Paserene, and who suggested that we stop at it when driving past it outside Franschhoek last week. We were very impressed with the beautiful new tasting room, and the exquisite three wines that we were offered to taste.
Previously the home of La Chataigne wines, the winery has been named Paserene, a Latin name referring to ‘traveling and free birds’, including swifts and swallows, we were told by charming Tasting Room manager Billet Magara. Billet sat us down at a table of our choice, and brought bread sticks immediately, as well as pouring ice-cold water on what was a 30C plus day.
He told us that the winery belongs to winemaker Martin Smith, who had spent many years at Vilafonte, in partnership with the Johannesburg-based businessman who appreciates fine wines, Ndabe Mareda. Smith has worked vintages in the USA too. The winery tasting centre opened on 11 December last year.
The newly built tasting centre impresses from both
inside and outside, with an unusual unique modern building exterior combining wood as well as slate, to give the feeling of a swallow’s nest in its use of the colour of clay, the media release from Feed that Bird informed. ‘… the new facilities reflect this ‘flight of the swallow’. Conceptualised and designed by SCS Architects, Etienne Stols, Principle Architect said: “The building was designed to complement the current landscape and not to be in competition but in harmony with its surroundings by creating an architectural language of hoes materials and soft organic forms.” The result is a contemporary, but classically understated building resembling a martin’s nest: light wooden cladding is used to create a modern-style ‘crypto-porticus’, offset against rough slate accents, resembling the mud and clay swallows use to build their nests. Glass stack doors allow for the whole building to become an open structure, transforming the beautiful exterior into a natural extension of the interior. The facilities overlook a small dam, a clever nod towards the swallow’s habit of swooping over water’.
The interior is smart, in tones of grey, and lots of glass, with a mix of furniture, in leather, and side tables. Our tasting table had a copper top, reflecting the three wines which we tasted. The tasting room faces the newly created dam. The air conditioning was most welcome in the hot day. One can sit outside in the deck too.
Three Paserene wines are available to taste:
#. Paserene Chardonnay (W.O Elgin) 2015: grapes come from Elgin using quality fruit, and the wine was made there too, in a European climate style, Billet informed. There is a subtle use of French oak, at 30 percent. Only 2000 bottles were produced.
The label was designed by Carmen Ziervogel, and depicts Mother Nature. The media release added dimension as follows: ‘Ziervogel created the pencil sketch of the woman on the Chardonnay. Says Smith, “I wanted to have an image of a woman on the label because of where the wine is from and because the wine itself was always a woman to me. To me, Elgin is intoxicatingly beautiful. It is a gentle place with its hills and valleys, the way it gets rain and 18°C days while the rest of the country suffers a heat wave. Once you understand the place, the way she works, the rain, cold and ‘ever-greenness’, you fall in love. The wine is like that too. 100% Chardonnay that is fragile and yet powerful.‘
The quality of the wine was awarded a 5-star rating in the latest Platter’s Wine Guide.
# Paserene Union 2015: This is a wine made in the Rhône style, a blend of 50% Syrah, 43% Carignan, and 7% Mourvèdre. Grapes for this wine were harvested in Tulbagh, which has a warmer and drier climate. A total of 2500 bottles was produced.
Both Ziervogel and artist Lorraine Loots worked on the label, a pencil outline of a woman who has her hand outstretched to a flying bird. ‘Explains Smith, “it is here where the two elements come together. They were always drawn to each other. It is supposed to indicate what terroir really is, a careful dance between Mother Nature and the winemaker”, informs the media release.
# Paserene Marathon 2015: This wine was made in the Bordeaux style, and is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Petit Verdot, and 8% Carménère, a little known French grape sourced from Philadelphia. This wine was made in Tulbagh too. A total of 2500 bottles was produced.
‘The swallow on the Marathon was created by Lorraine to commemorate Smith’s time in the United States, and his traveling between South Africa and there. The colours used refer to the warmth and energy of the wine’, I learnt from the media release. It is by far the most striking of the three labels, in my opinion.
All three Paserene wines cost R350.
Smith spoke about his wines and the brand: ‘It was important that this home reflected the authenticity of the brand, and that it was true to the wine labels’ artistic expression which captures the story of my travels as a flying winemaker, and the wines’ sense of place. I am a precision winemaker, although I rarely add anything to my wines and I do not filter them, I spend a lot of time and effort on what exactly goes into the bottle. I want the person who drinks my wine to feel that it is a very special moment. When an architect creates his life’s work, you can marvel at it for 100 years to come. My life’s work you will wee out within an hour, so I better make that moment count.’!
Paserene, R45 to Franschhoek. Tel.(021) 876-2714. www.paserene.com Instagram: @paserene Wednesday to Sunday from 10h00 to 17h00. Tasting costs R150.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein