Up and coming
Text Einar Juell. Photo Mattis Bjørnsen
Looking for land, established as an individual winemaker, but still establishing. His wineproductions is focusing on variety. Moving away from oak, cause it
is dulling the wine. Rediscover the strengths of the old vineyards, more than 30 to 40 years old, in the heart of Swartland. Seeking to balance and blend pure freshness. He speaks about individuality and freedom for his product strategy - to make premium wines.
Donavan Rall reflects upon ethical questions and seeks for sustainability in the winemaking business. He have outsorced everything but his winemaking.
Donovan`s heart is hammering for blending and is made in an authentic way - as part of a cultural aspect. There is one goal; focus on what you do best. There are opportunities for everybody who wants to start making wines. There are grapes available all over the region.
I’m not chasing passion fruit and guava.
I’m interested in the secondary flavours, how I’m going to getflavours of nougat and nuts and aniseed and fennel
Rall Wines was established in 2008 and is owned and run by young independent winemaker Donovan Rall. He takes small batch production to the extreme.
Donovan graduated from from Stellenbosch University with a degree in Viticulture and Oenology in in 2005. The next few years he traveled and worked harvests far and wide. On his return to South Africa, Donovan spent a season in the Swartland and a spark was ignited. Inspired by the Mediterranean varietals prevalent here, the idea of making unique and naturally styled wines from scattered old vineyards was born and blossomed.
Donovan’s philosophy is simple; Use the best grapes from the oldest possible vineyards (for more information: - Rosa Kruger) and don’t interfere with the natural process. His focus has been on one white and one red blend produced by hand, each parcel allowed to ferment and mature naturally to reflect the character of the vineyard and then the right combination of these components forming the two blends.
He made his first ten barrels in 2008. Years down the line production is still tiny, but Rall Wines have made its indelible mark, the white blends especially making a splash with wine critics. 2015 saw the release of new wines from Rall, and the days where Donovan could be accused of being a one-hit wonder are most definately in his rear-view.
Not having his own vineyard doesn’t bother the young entrepreneur; “I am looking for a piece of land, but I’ve always believed that it’s more interesting to blend. I love to blend, and I buy different grapes from all over,” he explains.
As small scale production is becoming more widespread, Donovan represents an emergence of a new generation of independant wine talent in South Africa. In recent years, cheap land and a sense of endeavor and cameraderie has attracted young, ambitious winemakers to the Swartland region, where Donovan and more than 20 of his fellow winemakers have formed Swartland Independent Producers (SIP). To qualify, the wines have to be naturally produced without added yeast, acidity, tannin or reverse osmosis, and must be aged in no more than 25% new oak of European origin.
Donovan thinks the Swartland trend represents a significant change in tastes; “Most people around here will tell you the same thing. Everyone is sort of sick and tired of all the massively extracted, overly oaked wines, and they’re focusing on new varietals that ripen early and lend freshness to the wine,”
he claims.Passionate about fresher, more drinkable wines, Donovan points out that this is not synonymous with light and fruity; “I’m not chasing passion fruit and guava. I’m interested in the secondary flavours, how I’m going to get flavours of nougat and nuts and aniseed and fennel. I’m interested to see how a wine is going to age,” he clarifies.
Rall White 2013
Blend: Chenin blanc, Verdelho, Chardonnay, Viognier Vineyards: Mostly Swartland (Paardeberg) and some Stellenbosch (Bottelary and Helderberg).
The 2013 has the concentration of previous vintages but with a naturally low pH and a very mineral core from the dominating Swartland Chenin. The texture and floral notes from the Verdelho and Viognier makes this an interesting match with most seafood and Asian inspired dishes. Drink now or over the next 5 years. Decanting recommended.
Rall Red 2012
Blend: Syrah/Grenache noir
Soil: Mostly shale (Syrah) and sand (Grenache)
This 2012 shows very perfumed purple fruit on the nose which also leads the palate. The concentration and density of the Syrah is balanced by the delicate and fruit forward Grenache. Soft and textured with loads of fruit, spice and a mineral finish. Perfect with game. Drink now or over the next 10 years.
It’s quite unusual in the way
we’re doing it. People are sort of sick
and tired of massively extracted
wines with no natural freshness.
I am aiming for purity.
Where to find us
+27 (0)72 182 7571