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A Thing of One’s Own

We’re cursed in the wine world. It’s a widely acknowledged fact.

A Thing of One’s Own

Ask any of us in the business. It doesn’t matter if we’re in charge of selling it, tasting it, shipping it, reviewing it… Ask us about our dreams for the future and we get this glazed, blissed out look in our eyes, followed by a sheepish expression. We’ll lean in close and tell you conspiratorially, that if we could, we would have a wine label of our own. Blame the romance of it, blame the office hour daydreams of surveying our vineyards with a glass of wine in hand, or blame the allure of having a fully-stocked cellar at all times, but we’re like broody midwives. We have THE YEARNING. We want something we can set on the table and say: THIS IS MINE. Gerard de Villiers of Kleinood had the yearning.

A designer of cellars and distilleries since 1983, Gerard has designed over 200 wineries and a number of distilleries in South Africa, France, Israel, and the UK. We’re talking the likes of Hamilton Russell, Rupert Wines, Vilafonté, L’Ormarins and Graham Beck, to name-drop but a few. One could say that Gerard was destined to have the yearning, being the direct descendant of French Huguenot Jacob de Villiers, who bought Boschendal after arriving to South Africa in 1688. He had no chance. Call it destiny or biology – it was hardwired into his DNA.

The Yearning

In 2000, Gerard and his wife Libby succumbed and found a run-down fruit farm in the Blaauwklippen Valley, a place that felt like they were being swallowed by the Helderberg mountains. It was a place with pulse. Fitting then that they named their wines Tamboerskloof, meaning valley of drums, a nod to their Cape Town home of 25 years and a tattoo of their own to follow. Finally, some 150 cellars in, Gerard designed a winery of his own. It’s the kind of elegantly simple, yet high-tech cellar that allows for endless possibilities and flexibilities. It’s a place of enacting out daring (and successful) experiments, of concocting the fantastical. It's no wonder that the cellar inspired the creation of a single barrel of pure Mourvèdre after a particularly good vintage, which was kept a secret for two years by the winemaker until it’s completion and now only sold to those in the know (don’t worry – we know a guy…).

A Synergy of Place

Surprisingly (or even counter-intuitively), what with being a designer of cellars and all, you would think that Kleinood would be all about the cellar… but at Kleinood it’s all about the place. It’s about bottling a concentrated essence. And I mean that literally – Kleinood has its own Eau de Parfum. Tested as having the closest terroir to the Rhône you can get in South Africa, the varietal choice was obvious (and fortunate, as Syrah, Viognier and Mourvèdre are also coincidentally Gerard’s favourite wines). Not ones to do anything in half measures, Libby and Gerard sourced Syrah clones from the Rhône – the first of their kind in South Africa. Because of this, Kleinood wines display notes of violets and black pepper, which is rare for a Blaauwklippen Syrah.

Like Gerard, winemaker Reynie Oosthuizen seems to have found Kleinood by design, following a trip to the Rhône that changed his entire philosophy on wine: “It’s not about what happens in the cellar. It’s about getting the vineyard into the bottle. It’s about a synergy of place.” Reynie’s dream is to become a household wine, no introduction necessary. “I want to be able to put my wine on the table in a line-up of ten wines and know that mine will be drunk first.” See? None of us can escape the yearning.

To ease your own yearnings (or inspire you to act upon them), we invite you to try a case of all the components that make up Kleinood: a selection of Tamboerskloof Syrah through the ages, as well as their key ingredients – Viognier and the secret, one-time-only Mourvèdre. 

Published On: 02/20/2019

Raphaela van Embden

instagram @raphaelave

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