WORDS: RICHARD HOLMES IMAGES: SUPPLIED
“I love the honesty of the Swartland,” says Martin “Marras” Lamprecht down a crackly phone line from the Riebeek valley. “But it’s an extreme region, with vineyards growing in extreme conditions.”
Martin obviously thrives on those conditions. Formerly winemaker at Doran Vineyards in the nearby Paardeberg, he went solo in 2017 and today his MARRAS range is focussed on two of the most exciting wine regions in the Cape, sourcing grapes from the sun-baked vineyards of the Swartland and the cooler high-altitude mountain slopes of the Piekenierskloof outside Citrusdal.
The vineyards here “have a great view of the Atlantic Ocean!” laughs Martin. “Even though daytime temperatures are quite high, the evenings and mornings are cool thanks to the altitude.”
That brings plenty of minerality and freshness to his Piekenierskloof Chenin Blanc, says Martin. “It’s more like a sauvignon blanc in style, whereas the Swartland Chenin has a golden colour, more richness, more yellow stone fruit.”
For Martin, the MARRAS wines are all about enticing wine lovers to discover single-varietal wines, at a more affordable price. While there’s no shortage of chenin blanc in the market, his MARRAS Pinotage and Cinsault offer unique takes on popular cultivars.
The MARRAS Piekenierskloof Grenache offers particularly good value for this cultivar growing in popularity and should be a staple addition to your wine rack this summer. Picked early, and whole-bunch cold-fermented – “as you would with white wine,” says Martin – it’s a wine bright, lively and low (12%) in alcohol.
If you prefer your reds more full-bodied, his red blend from Swartland vines is for you, marrying full-bodied Swartland Shiraz with the freshness of cinsault.
“There’s a lovely bright berry character that comes through in both wines,” he says. “They’re a step up from a rosé and a step down from a dry red. Chill them slightly and enjoy them as you would white wine, with grilled tuna and salads.”
For Martin, it’s about crafting wines to be well made and well priced. “Life is complicated enough as it is, I don’t want to overcomplicate my wines. I want to create wines that don’t hold back on quality and complexity, but they’re also enjoyable, juicy, lively and fresh.”
With his MARRAS range, he’s certainly done just that.
MARRAS AND MORE! Taste the wines of the Swartland at the Swartland Producers Street Party Saturday, 2 November, 10am to 5pm Short Street, Riebeek Kasteel. Tickets (R450pp) at quicket.co.za
Marras Wines | 082 491 1948 | marraswines.co.za