We couldn't be more excited to finally introduce you to the incredible range of wines from BLANKbottle, one of the only genuine craft winemakers that we've ever met. We've waited 5 months for these wines to arrive into the shop and boy oh boy are we pleased they finally have. They are spectacular and just as good as we remembered when we tried them all those months ago.
BLANKbottle is the invention of the mercurial wine-making talent that is Pieter H Walser. We had the privilege of spending a bit of time with Pieter and his wines back in May. To say he was captivating is an understatement. You get to meet a lot of passionate people in the wine industry, but Pieter is another level entirely. Apart from completely blowing us away with his wines, his insight, experience and talent were the things that made him truly stand out. That and his stories. Oh yes... his stories. We'll come on to them in another post, but first, how about we meet the man himself? Pieter was kind enough to provide us with an interview, so read on Kwoffers!
Pieter, can you describe BLANKbottle in one sentence?
"Clothes maketh not the man; judge my wines on what's in the bottle, not the varietal on the label."
When and how did BLANKbottle start?
"In 2004, a lady came to my house (then also my office) to buy wine. She asked for anything but Shiraz. "I don't drink Shiraz", were her exact words. I poured her a glass of wine from a bottle with no label. She loved it and bought 3 cases. It was a straight Shiraz. It's a fact - we do judge the book by its cover."
"When I started BLANKbottle, my goal was to create an honest wine brand that had no limitations when it came to style, vintage, area or cultivars in order to break down any preconceived expectations. Having no indication of cultivar on the bottle makes this possible. Not only does it demand complete honesty when it comes to quality, but it allows me the opportunity to introduce one-off limited runs of interesting wines. Its flexibility turned out to be BLANKbottle's edge. Something for someone with an open mind and an adventurous heart."
So, does that mean you never repeat a wine from year to year?
"No, I do repeat wines. In the beginning years I made different wines every year. But as time went on, I grew attached to some vineyards and committed to making them year on year, for example Moment of Silence. At the moment, roughly 50% of my productions are one-off wines. If they perform well, they will stay on."
So you have your own winery but no farm or vineyard?
"Yes, owning a farm limits you to the vineyards on your specific farm. I love traveling and experiencing many different areas. I want to make area specific wines, wines that will be ambassadors for areas. If I can one day have 50 wines in my portfolio I would be happy."
How many vineyards do you buy grapes from at the moment?
"In the 2016 harvest I picked 73 tons from 58 vineyards; picked in 68 seperate lots; 27 different varietals and growing - anything from Fernao Pirez to Cabernet. In harvest I normally drive 13 000 killometers in 100 days to pick my grapes."
Where is your winery based?
"It’s on a farm outside Somerset West in South Africa. There are no signs or formal winetasting facilities, so phone me if you want to come and visit." (Kwoff note...oh we will!)
What do you love most about your job?
"Being able to express the things I care about through wine."
Highlight of your career?
"I’ll let you know as soon as I figure that one out. I see it as watering a garden – you keep on doing it every day, but you don’t necessarily see it grow. There’s no a-ha moment, but if I look back over the past 12 years, it’s been one big highlight."
We know you're a man who literally likes riding waves (note to reader - Pieter is a keen surfer) but more recently you've been making waves, so what do you think will be the next big wave or wine trend? (See what we did there...)
"Going back to the basics and producing terroir driven wines. Not areas according to government, but according to soil climate and topography."
What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
"Get attacked by the kids (after driving past the beach to see if there’s surf) then pouring my wife a glass of wine."
Do you have a winemaking philosophy?
"Yes. Hide your similarities and celebrate your differences."
Best influence thus far in your business?
"No family money! Having to do everything myself lets the creative juices flow."
What are the passions that drive you?
"Stories, weird cultivars, weird wines, weird people, weird wine producing areas, traveling, surfing, figuring out my wife, and embracing who my kids are. I am constantly amazed by people who have the ability to be true to themselves and thereby differentiate themselves from the norm."
Pieter's wines are now available to buy in-store or on-line. Click here for what we currently have available: