Abraham in Cellar Door
Senior winemaker, Abraham de Klerk
Abraham is from South Africa and brings an exciting wealth of winemaking expertise and experience to the Granite Belt wine scene.
He is a 4th generation winegrower from South Africa. Upon his grandfather’s death, the family farm was sold. He graduated from the University of Stellenbosch with a 4 year degree in oenology and viticulture. Eager to get experience, he opted not to pursue a PhD in wine but cut his teeth for 3 years on the West Coast of South Africa working with exceptional fruit and discovering the balanced quality in old vines. From there his career was launched.
Abraham’s most memorable vintages as winemaker before taking up the reins to lead the winemaking team at Symphony Hill:
1.The vintage at Chateau Clos du Clocher in Pomerol, working with 3 generations of French vignerons, in close proximity to famous Chateau Petrus and Le Pin. Here he began to understand the meaning of “living wine” and had his first encounter with the famous French consultant, Michel Rolland, whom alongside Robert Parker left an unmistakable mark on the wine industry.
2. Learning under Michel Rolland, he made wine at 2 chateaus, one in Pomerol and one in St Emillion and also in Stellenbosch, South Africa in the same year. His experience grew exponentially.
3. Making super Tuscan wines at Sassicaia in Italy. 3 words – mind blowing terrior.
4. Making wine for Sir Bob Geldof in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia. They were 8 degrees from the equator at 1200m above sea level and his home was in Addis Adeba at 3000m. He loved transferring his knowledge to the Ethiopians who were to take over.
5. The vintages at Weingut Knipser winery in Pfalz, Germany. Werner Knipser and his son Stephan makes the most extraordinary wines. It was a time of pushing boundaries and setting new standards. Werner is one of the most influential people in the German wine industry.
6. The vintages at Weingut Gesellman in Burgunland, Austria. Albert Gesellman lives wine. His wines have given Burgunland a well-deserved place in the wine world. A very fond memory is the amazing wines we drank after each night in harvest (from Super Tuscans to First Growth French) …to make great wine one must know what it tastes like! Are you reading this Ewen – hint, hint!
Abraham’s Winemaking philosophy…
– Attention to detail
– Remain humble and respectful to the fruit
– Allow each vintage to express its unique characteristics
– Knowledge is the key to understand how to guide what has been given by nature
– Fully grasp the importance of each and every moment as a moment in time that will never be again
– To fully understand a single vineyard; takes a minimum of 10 years with that vineyard
– What we do in life echoes in eternity …
Q and A with Abraham
What is the best wine you have ever had?
2000 Pomerol Chateau Clos du Clocher.
What is your most exclusive wine experience?
A vertical tasting of Chateau Clos du Clocher with Jean-Baptiste, his Father and Michel Rolland.
What excites you about making wines at Symphony Hill?
The immense quality and potential to create very special and individualistic wines. The diversity and quality within each wine is fantastically creative.
What are your favourite Symphony Hill wines?
The 2016 Reserve Nero d’Avola and the new 2019 Gewurztraminer.
What other passions do you have?
Horses and surfing – but mostly horses. I have a spiritual connection with horses – I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame. In South Africa I regularly participated in endurance Arabian horse riding and on my bucket list is to participate in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup. Favourite surfing spot is Elandsbay on west coast of South Africa – clean, fast and powerful – but very cold!
What one sentence would sum up your attitude to work and life?
What we do in life, echoes in eternity