Talking Wine With Tshepang Molisana

tshepang-molisana-by-shavan-rahim

Wine connoisseur and 2016 Veritas Young Wine Writer award winner, Tshepang Molisana, is one of the current and growing trendsetters in the wine industry. House & Garden caught up with Molisana who shared the inspiration behind her journey with wine and imparted some of her knowledge.

Where did it all start?

My wine journey began in a small bottle store in Vosloorus in the 1990’s. When I moved to Cape Town to study, I worked as a freelance lifestyle writer. One of my clients was a luxury travel magazine, because travel in the Western Cape primarily consisted of wine estates and wine valley related excursions, I drew a lot on the knowledge gained in my childhood in Vosloorus.

In 2013, I was a finalist in the Veritas Young Wine Writer of the Year competition, Catherine Henderson, the editor of Classic Wine read my work and encouraged me to pursue a wine writing path.

Catherine’s encouragement, together with Gudrun Clark and Len Maseko gave me courage to continue. In 2016, after many ups-and-downs I was awarded the Veritas Young Wine Writer of the Year Award by the SA Young Wine Show.

Which bottle would you recommend to the novice with a keen interest in wine?

I’m a huge fan of Chenin Blanc. There are ways to approach wine that is not too snobby, not too underwhelming – just right. The Little Red Riding Hood of South African wine, due to ideal climatic conditions and adventurous winemakers.

Three of the best Chenin Blancs I tasted last year were:

A City on A Hill (2016, Swartland0

Merwida Chenin Blanc (2016, Breedekloof)

Strydom Family Wines Danielle (2016, Stellenbosch).

 

 

The more expensive the better?

Complicated. Because of the high production costs that are involved in making really good wine, yes, generally, the more you spend, the more worthwhile. However, because of economies of scale, South Africa’s ailing exchange rate and other factors, often some of our best wine is priced far below some of the best wine in the world.

It’s easy to be biased when looking at price, but its quite simple. A large producer can afford to price some of their best wine below what a smaller, competing producer does. But, yes, generally, when wine is priced, a top shelf price is indicative of its quality.

What is your all time favourite wine memory?

Difficult to think of just one, but I think one memory that is reflective of most of my wine memories happened in 2014. I was working on a story at Val de Vie and I interviewed Olive Hamilton Russell – who was wearing the most decadent feathered creation.

She told me she would send me an sms, sure enough, within days, she smsed me and invited me to spend the day in Hermanus at Hamilton Russell Vineyards. When I trudged up the hill in my little green car, her husband, Anthony came to fetch me on a quad bike. He led me into the cellar, it was winter, so the Chardonnay was fermenting – which is the most romantic scent in the world.

He was shooting a special for an American journalist, so they invited me to sit in while he guided them through a flight of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vintages. Thereafter, Olive cooked a host of recipes from her cookbook, which we luxuriated in while seated at a table at their home, Braemar. We were joined by a team of young winemakers, along with two of their friends. This memory encapsulates so much of what the best of these years have been – fantastic stories, spontaneous, generous hospitality, good friends, incredible food and unforgettable wine.

 

 

The top three places you would take those close to you, to share a great wine experience with?

  1. De Grendel Wine Estate in Durbanville
  2. Bistro 1682 at Steenberg in Constantia
  3. Paul Rene at Wonderfontein in Robertson

Where do you see yourself on your tastemaker journey in the next few years?

I definitely need to find a way to archive all of these wine stories, my notebooks are heaving. Maybe I’ll write a cookbook or a book. I would like to continue to study towards my WSET Level 3 and then a diploma, maybe work towards becoming a Master of Wine. We’ll see…

 

Featured Image: Shavan Rahim