Wine Maker’s Name: Mark Le Roux
Nestled in the picturesque Blaauwklippen Valley, in the world renowned Stellenbosch Region, this 120 hectare property boasts citrus groves, rolling lawns, water features and fragrant lavender beds. The Waterford Way is a philosophy that honors prosperity, celebrates life, food and wine, and loves family and friends with passion. Each vintage pays tribute to the families who make these wines, by bearing the name of a family member on the Jem (named after the owner of the estate, Jeremy Ord) and the Kevin Arnold Shiraz.
How many years have you been making wine and how long have you been at Waterford?
My first vintage of winemaking was in 2007. My first involvement with Waterford was during my studies at Stellenbosch university, I did my viticultural practical over the 2005 summer months.
Tell us about your early days in the vineyards, your education and how you started your career.
I studied a BScAgric (Oenology and Viticulture) at Stellenbosch university, a 4 year degree. My father was born and bred in Stellenbosch, so I spent a lot of time as a youngster in the winelands. My father studied forestry and I think that’s where the initial love for the outdoors and nature started. The challenge of linking the soils and environment to specific cultivars and then to produce representing wine thereof is the rush I live for. I joined the winemaking team at Waterford in 2009 and later took over winemaking production with 2013 being my first vintage.
How Involved in the viticulture aspect of wine production are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that constantly produces top fruit year after year?
The vineyards is where it all starts, it takes 6 months to grow and develop the grapes, this is where all the crucial flavour precursors and tannins are formed. I spend a great deal of time in the vineyard working alongside the viticulturist, my best friend, since 2014 season. The understanding we have allows us to take big steps toward creating super wines. Waterfords sites are incredibly unique, this makes it possible to have 11 different red varietals on the Estate, driven by Cabernet Sauvignon. There are most definitely vineyards producing top fruit year after year. Watch the Library collection label for upcoming single vineyard wines coming from these sites in limited quantities. Our Chardonnay planted in 1988 is spectacular to work with and then there are 3 very special sites of Cabernet Sauvignon as well as 2 sites of great Shiraz. And then even a vineyard of Cabernet franc surprises, just bottled 900 bottles of this, 2015 vintage.
What do you like to drink after a long day of winemaking or any other time you want to kick back and relax?
A great G&T or Pale Ale craft beer :)
What standouts releases should we be looking for this year? Describe:
Jem 2011, recently released but it’s a cracker, I really do think we are on to something special here. One of my top Jem’s to date. Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 – Way before its time, but what a great Helderberg Cab. No mistake to invest in this wine. Library Grenache blanc 2015 – very limited quantities but love the grape fruit texture of this wine. Estate Grenache Noir 2015 – Its taken us 7 years of making this wine before getting one into bottle, I think this is a “watch this space” wine going forward in the future. Super site for Grenache Noir. Chardonnay 2015 – Beautiful, this vintage created solid tight structured wines, this Chard is going to be beautiful with some age.
What is the difference between a good and great wine?
A good wine is a wine you show off with your friends, a great wine is one you keep for yourself because its not worth sharing.
I always believe a great wine is a wine which excites from the first sip to the last, as well as having the ability to impress the following day. A wine which can stand overnight and again impress, for me is a good indication of a wine which is naturally stable.
If you weren't a winemaker what would you be and why?
I initially wanted to study veterinary, but the surgery side freaked me out a little. I have a love for animals, and more so to see them out in the open. We have a family farm in the karoo which I visit every year, and to just walk through the karoo fynbos (vegetation) and watch all the animals around you is very refreshing for the soul.
What three words best describe your winery?
Passion. Enjoyment. Precision