Renowned Stellenbosch winery, Eikendal, has embarked on a new era with the official appointment of Maryke Botha as its winemaker. Until recently, she served as assistant to cellar master Nico Grobler, who departs after an 11-year tenure to develop his own wine project.
Maryke hits the position with a bang too, crowing her ascension with a Gold medal for the Eikendal Rosé 2020 - the first wine she released as full winemaker. The accolade was awarded at the most recent Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge.
Maryke began her career as a winemaking intern at Eikendal, in 2016. She was raised on the East Rand and initially qualified as an optometrist with a specialisation in sports vision. A move to the Cape set fire to her enchantment with wine and led her to complete a winemaking degree – Cum Laude – at the University of Stellenbosch.
“I am extremely excited about the wine,” she says about the Eikendal Rosé 2020. “It has the most beautiful suggestion of colour, with an amazing flavour profile – a combination of red berries, candy floss and rosewater, with a gentle yet lively, crisp and refreshing acidity.”
The Merlot that takes up the lion’s share of the blend, hails from the highest vineyard on the estate. Its outstanding character is further crafted with touches of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. It is a fine, first ambassador of Maryke’s skills and insights, but also as a proud new addition to the renowned Eikendal portfolio.
“Employing an approach synonymous with Swiss quality, Eikendal prides itself on being detail-orientated,” says Maryke. “Focus begins in the vineyard and is applied through precision viticulture. Every block of vineyard is cultivated in its own unique way to ensure the highest quality grapes are produced. Different trellising and training systems are sometimes implemented on a single variety to ensure the style of wine we want to produce can be obtained with minimum intervention in the cellar.
“We want to be able to taste the wine in the grape bunches and carry that so the terroir shines through in the glass.”
In respect of this year’s harvest, Maryke is happy and reports that quality is outstanding. Moderate temperatures at the start of summer allowed for ideal slow and even ripening. Chardonnay yields are up on the previous year and the quality is outstanding while a later surge in temperatures spurred the ripening of the tail-end red varieties.
The Eikendal Rosé 2020 sells for R125 and is available from the winery and selected fine restaurants. It can also be ordered online, along with others from the portfolio, for delivery within South Africa, via the online store at shop.eikendal.com.