5 minutes with Charl Schoeman, MCC Specialist at Simonsig Wine Estate…

Charl Schoeman, MCC Specialist at Simonsig Wine Estate

What was the defining moment in your life that set you on the path of becoming a winemaker?
I would say the defining moment was probably seeing the joy that drinking fine wine brought to my dad and all the fun times they had with friends and wine when I was a kid. This combined with a love for nature and having always wanted to work outdoors.

Where did you train to become a winemaker?
I studied winemaking at Stellenbosch University and learned a great deal here. However, I would say that I learned even more during my first couple of years working at Simonsig under Johan Malan. I also did a vintage in Bordeaux in 2016 which was a major revelation on the way I think about viticulture and winemaking.

Johan Malan, Owner Cellarmaster of Simonsig Estate Winery

Who would you regard as your mentor?
I won’t say that I have one specific mentor, but I have learned a lot from previous winemakers that I have worked with like Johan Malan, Debbie Thompson and Hannes Meyer. Although you can learn a lot from others, I think it is also very important to teach yourself by experimenting, reading and tasting as much as possible.

You work with a selection of some of the world’s most noble grape varieties. Is there one other variety with which you would really like to work?
I have experimented with some Pinot Blanc grapes for Cap Classique recently and was quite amazed with the result. However, there are two other Champagne grape varieties that I would love to work with to see what they can contribute in South African conditions, Petit Meslier and Arbane.

Ancestral Method Sparkling Wine

Is there another wine you would like to make in your cellar with the varieties available to you there?
There actually aren’t too many wines that we haven’t tried, ha-ha. We love to experiment and are always game to try and make a new wine. Could be interesting to do a Ancestral Method sparkling wine though.

You seem to be quite innovative with new wine styles – what leads you there?
One of the most fun things about winemaking is experimenting and trying new grape varietals, styles or techniques. It is also the time when you learn the most and discover the secrets to making a good wine, GREAT.

Champagne Vineyards

If you could choose anywhere in the world to make wine other than where you are now, where would it be?
Definitely in Champagne, France. There is just something magical about the region and wines produced there.

And what grape type would you use?
Chardonnay would be my core varietal for sure, but it would be great to have access to all the available Champagne varietals as well.

I know it is a bit tricky asking a father to choose his favourite child, but which one of your wines is your current favourite?
Can I keep it short not to offend the others? The Chenin Avec Chene

Le Pin 1990

Your greatest bottle of wine ever? [And you can’t say one of your own!]
I have had some truly memorable wines. However, the wine that I will never forget tasting (and that blew my mind) was the 1990, Le Pin, Pomerol. I had the honour of tasting this wine while doing an internship in Bordeaux.

What is your favourite style of food?
I love all styles of food, especially anything rich in flavour like sticky ribs or well matured steak.

Alida Ryder’s Sticky BBQ Ribs

Your best style of restaurant, you enjoy visiting? Why?
Although I don’t do it often, my favourite is fine dining restaurants that do chefs menus paired with various wines. It is really cool how the food can tell a story and show you there is more to it than just being delicious.

Your ideal dinner party guest. Just one. Tell me why you chose them.
My wife, Amy, for sure. She is funny and makes any party fun and light. We also enjoy the same things in food and wine.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Your favourite holiday destination?
Croatia! I have only been there once, but it completely won me over. Sea, sunshine, fantastic food, wine and a great vibe.

What is on your bedside table as reading matter at the moment?
A very inspiring book called “The Blessed Life” by Robert Morris.

One piece of music you would take with you to a desert island.
This is a tough one. Right now, I would take any album by “For King and Country”

I’m currently working on….making the 2020 vintage a special and memorable one. I am very excited as it is showing great promise.

My favourite weekend getaway is…. Going camping or staying in bush cabins with a bunch of friends and having an outdoor fire pit is the ultimate. If you add a wood fired jacuzzi to the mix…perfect weekend getaway.

Potato Chips, Charl’s guilty pleasure

Guilty Pleasures?
Give me anything salty and I am happy. Biltong, droë wors or chips.

And Biltong

One day, I will….retire on a tropical island with unlimited wine.

How can a visitor contact your winery?
Telephone:  General: +27 (0) 21 888 4900
Email: wine@simonsig.co.za

Charl with Michael Malan [3rd generation] and Johan Malan [centre]

Website: www.simonsig.co.za

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