Overberg, South Africa
Pure wines from a geeky enfant-terrible
Meyer Joubert, the award-winning pioneer and enfant-terrible of non-intervention winemaking from Klein Karoo, grew up in the vineyards and soon found out that they were his natural habitat. He built upon his father’s heritage and realisation that their precious land was ideal to grow high-quality grapes for the production of premium wines. After his oenology studies and two years in Napa Valley, he came back to the family estate and started making his own wines.
How we/Richard found them: A local South African told me we had to make the trip up and across the Tradouw Pass and see its beauty. It was up there I stumbled across Meyer, his family and his wines. For me, Meyer is the epitome of ‘natural’ – the grapes speak for themselves with the most minimal human interference. I first tasted his wines then and, to this day, I’m struck about how pure and vibrant they are – something others struggle to get near to.
Upon his return from two seasons in Napa Valley as the winemaker for prestigious Cakebread Cellars, Meyer was determined to make the most out of his family estate’s fruit, until then sold to the local Cooperative Cellar in Barrydale. An established winemaker with thorough knowledge and a clear working philosophy, he believes in using as little intervention as possible during the winemaking process so that the grapes express their natural purity. He feels most at home in the vineyard and is, above all, a passionate agriculturalist.
His simple yet functional wine cellar is a testament to this. “You would imagine yourself in an authentic barrel cellar somewhere in Chablis,” said Guido Franque, author of Monuments of SA Wine. Meyer’s extreme respect for nature comes from a deep understanding of the local terroir, which no one before thought would yield good enough fruit for premium wines. He’s certainly proved sceptics wrong.
Meyer’s wines vary from a lush Chardonnay to an affordable natural wine (“R62 alternative”), by way of a non-intervention Syrah (he calls his Syrah vineyard “a piece of heaven…”) and a powerful and rich Cabernet Franc. His wines won recent accolades scoring as highly as 94 points. But Meyer stays level-headed: “I like to be understated and make a statement by that. I make wine with a story, not to please judges, but to please discerning wine lovers,” he says.
Location: Barrydale, Overberg, South Africa
Working with us since: 2018
Our pick of the best wine from this producer: Syrah
Interesting fact: Joubert Tradauw’s fermentation cellar was built in 1998 out of stone from the rocky soils, characteristic of the farm. The estate’s arid soils, with very shallow bedrock, are key to the quality of the wines, keeping the vines under just enough stress to produce the best fruit.