“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers” ― Claude Monet
The poppy that adorns all Miles Mossop’s wines is an interesting choice. If you were to follow Monet’s reasoning, it is the muse. If you consider it from a purely scientific standpoint, the poppy is a flowering plant from the Papaveraceae family, one of which, the Papaver somniferum, is the raw material of opium, containing powerful medicinal alkaloids like morphine, and was used as an analgesic and recreational drug in ancient times. For the British, it is a flower of remembrance for all those who gave their lives during World War One, and all subsequent battles we’d imagine. A Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote a poem while observing how the only thing that would grow on the torn-up fields of battle was the poppy. “In Flanders’ fields, the poppies blow…Take up our quarrel with the foe…we shall not sleep…” But everyone has a different interpretation of this iconic plant. Miles Mossop explains his use of it: “They are beautiful, they signify a new beginning, a new season as they come out in spring in our garden. They were put onto our first label, Saskia, soon after my daughter’s birth.”
Miles Mossop, previously winemaker at Tokara and more recently, winemaker and founder of Miles Mossop Wines also has a muse. In fact, we’d wager he has three. Saskia, Max and Kika, his and Sam Fuchs’s three children. Each representing a new beginning, a new season, and a grand wine. We asked him why he named his wines for his children and he replied: “Saskia was born first and this was the first wine released, Max second and Kika. Saskia (a white blend of 67% Chenin Blanc, 22% Viognier and 11% Clairette Blanche) is zany and off-beat like the blend. Max can get restrained and contemplative like Max (a red blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 18% Petit Verdot), with all the Petit Verdot. Kika (a noble late harvest made of 100% Chenin Blanc) is the sweetie.” His other two wines The Introduction Red and White complete the 'new beginnings' theme, which fittingly encapsulates his departure from Tokara as winemaker after 18 years this year. He has been making wine under his own label since 2004 to great acclaim, buying in grapes from hand-selected vineyards and making the wine at Tokara. An accomplished winemaker and Cape Winemakers Guild member, recently Chairman, Miles has been in the business for quite some time, though he first had to complete a degree in Geology to realise his passion.
Based on his track record, Miles has a particular affinity for Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, sourcing grapes from Stellenbosch for the reds and the Swartland for the whites. Old vineyards, struggling in poorer soils, mostly unirrigated. His constraints at Tokara have limited his use of new varieties and we look forward to seeing what he comes up with left to his own devices. Though what he HAS come up with thus far bodes very well. An advantage or measure of naming your wine for your children must be that you cannot favour one over the other, and given the ratings of his most recent vintages, Miles doesn’t play favourites. To a man or girl/boy, Tim Atkins rates these wines 94 and above, while Platter’s awarded 'sweetie', Kika 2016, 5 stars in their 2018 Guide. Based on this and a number of other factors (beautiful bottles, love of Swartland Chenin, festive season rewards) we’d love nothing more than to take receipt of a bouquet of Miles Mossop wines and suggest you get acquainted should you not have had the pleasure.