Star winemakers: Lukas Van Loggerenberg, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Imbibe

Imbibe

01 May 2019

From Didier Dagueneau to Eben Sadie, every generation has its standout winemakers. We asked a team of experts to pick the stars of tomorrow – making wines you can afford today. Lukas Van Loggerenberg was suggested by Christian Eedes, editor of winemag.co.za


A moment of epiphany.’ That’s how South African winemaker Lukas van Loggerenberg describes drinking a bottle of Domaine de la Chevalerie 1989 on a trip to the Loire in 2014. ‘I had felt under-appreciated by the various owners I’d worked for back home and I realised it was time to go it alone. The Loire producers don’t get much exposure and they are so humble, but they make terrific wine.’

He identified a 1960 vineyard of Chenin Blanc in Paarl, which he started pruning and suckering during 2015 with a view to making a knockout white. By 2016, he was ready to do his own thing. That Chenin would go under the name of Kameraderie (meaning, unsurprisingly, ‘camaraderie’), reflecting the help he had from his peers in setting up his own label. Meanwhile, Geronimo – as in the yell made when taking a great jump – is what he called his Cinsault. Both were immediately considered among the best in their respective categories by local and international critics.

Van Loggerenberg’s travels in the Loire clearly made a big impression on him: one of his standout wines is a Cabernet Franc called Breton. Whereas most producers in South Africa working with this variety take Bordeaux as their inspiration, van Loggerenberg makes a much lighter style – the 2017 features partial whole-bunch fermentation and 10 months of maturation in old oak. The alcohol, meanwhile, is a modest 12.5%, and it is much praised for its lightness and elegance.

All of van Loggerenberg’s wines have done well for him so far, but he is particularly proud of the Break-a-Leg – a blanc de noirs from Cinsault. ‘I’d like to think I’ve proven to other producers that it is possible to make serious pink wine,’ he says.

Van Loggerenberg’s entire ethos is based on a low-intervention mindset. He works out of a simple shed in a part of Stellenbosch called Devon Valley, barrels packed higgledy-piggledy. ‘A bigger cellar would be nice but I haven’t managed to find any rich investors just yet,’ he observes wryly.

For all of van Loggerenberg’s success to date, he is quick to give credit to the various growers he works with. ‘I could not have done it without the farmers. I don’t work with any yeasts or enzymes so I need very good grapes.’

What’s next for van Loggerenberg? He reckons the next 10 years will be ‘crazy exciting’ for South African fine wine as he and his compatriots gain experience. ‘The new wave isn’t necessarily going to sustain an entire industry, but at least we’re changing minds about what South Africa is capable of,’ he says.

Van Loggerenberg, Kameraderie Chenin Blanc 2017

A haunting nose of citrus, peach, herbs and talcum powder. A wine of great harmony – pure fruit, coated acidity and great length.

Intensely flavoured but remarkably light, with no apparent gaps from entry through mid-palate to finish.

POA, Dreyfus Ashby

Van Loggerenberg, Breton Cabernet Franc 2017

Black cherry, violets, fresh herbs and a touch of earth on the nose.

Medium-bodied with lovely freshness and pleasantly grippy tannins. Balanced, nuanced and oh-so-very pleasurable.

POA, Dreyfus Ashby

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