Merit Wine and Spirit Challenge 2021

The Trophy for the best Sauvignon blanc goes to Klein Roosboom for their Klein Roosboom Jéan Sauvignon Blanc 2021

We asked the winemaker Piti Coetzee a few questions to find out more about this remarkable wine.

Where did you grow up, and what made you go into winemaking?

 I was born and raised on Bloemendal Farm in Durbanville.

My father Jackie Coetzee raised me in our wine cellar. I could remember him taking me out of school to get my hands and bare feet wet in grape must for the first day of harvest and the last day of harvest end.

I made my first barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon under the watchful eye of my father at the age of ten years old. I still enjoy a bottle of my 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon from time to time.

I fell in love with the sound of grapes falling into the destemmer, pumps singing as they transfer grape juice to wine tanks, CO2 bubbling from fermenting barrels, the sweet nose of cut grass and citrus that fills the cellar from Sauvignon Blanc. I think it has always been in my blood to become a winemaker, not only by moulding but also by choice.

To love your work is amazing, and the privilege to produce top-quality wine takes dedication.

“This trophy is a great honour, and I am grateful to be a part of the top-quality Sauvignon blanc from the Durbanville region.”

Tell us about yourself.

I have three loves in my life, my wife Anne Marie, winemaking, and being underwater (diving for west coast crayfish and spearfishing).

Where did you study, and where did you work before Klein Roosboom?

I went to CPUT Wellington and studied wine courses in Stellenbosch. I started as a cellar hand at Buitenverwachting under Herman Kirschbaum in 2010. I became Meerendal Wine Estate’s assistant winemaker in 2012. I did a harvest at Dry Creek Vineyards in California in 2013.

Who played a vital role in you becoming a well-rounded winemaker, and why?

My father Jackie Coetzee who laid the groundwork and Herman Kirschbaum, my mentor and friend, and most definitely Anne Marie for all her support as a winemaker’s wife. As glamorous as a winemaker may sound, the hours and weekends spent in the cellar during the summer months could take their toll if you do not have someone that recognises the passion and dedication and offers you a cold one after work.

What do you think is the most important characteristic a winemaker should have? 

To be loyal to your wine and to work under pressure with minimal sleep.

What is the secret to your success?

I believe one should always do the best you can, and never be satisfied.

What are the challenges facing a winemaker in making Sauvignon blanc? 

As a winemaker, you tend to try and force a wine in a direction that you would like it to become. The difficulty for me is letting go and letting a cultivar such as Sauvignon blanc speak for itself.

Are there any viticultural practices that differentiate you from the rest?

Hands-on all the way, block, row, and even vine selection is done before harvesting grapes for Klein Roosboom. The vineyards are under irrigation, so we give our vines exactly what they need to thrive to produce quality grapes.

What role do you think your terroir at Klein Roosboom plays?

Predominately Sauvignon blanc is planted on Southern facing Glenrosa and Oakleaf slopes. We have a cool microclimate of sea mist that rolls into the valley that keeps our grape temperature cooler for longer. Ripening is slow and evenly, producing beautiful fruit flavour and aromas.

How do you see South African wines now and in the future on the international stage?

South African wine producers can be proud of their wines. I think the COVID pandemic forced producers to expand even more in the international markets. There is more awareness of South African wines. Exciting times for all of us.

What does it mean to you and Klein Roosboom to win the Merit Wine and Spirit Awards Trophy for the best Sauvignon blanc?

This trophy is a great honour, and I am grateful to be a part of the top-quality Sauvignon blanc from the Durbanville region.

We are thankful to our partners who helped to make this event possible:

For all enquiries, visit https://themeritchallenge.com, or email hello@themeritchallenge.com