Ryan Mostert is the kind of guy that can’t help standing out. Well, first off he’s tall. Then you’ll notice him for his enthusiasm, his ability to jump on the subject of wine and run with it. Add to that the eye-popping wine labels for Silwervis and Smiley (the recently launched Terracura Syrah’s branding a little more understated).
All of these qualities combine to help keep the crowd at Wine Cellar enthralled by the tasting he’s presenting of his latest releases along with some of the international wines that inspire his winemaking (most particularly the Domaine Jamet when it comes to the Terracura).
“One of the things we like to do with the Smiley is look at different angles, using techniques that are quite uncommon,” he says.
The Smiley White NV incorporates multiple vintages, a portion that was fermented under flor as well as a maderised component.
“It was a huge risk when we first parked barrels in the sun – we had no idea how it would turn out,” says Mostert speaking of the decision to put some of the chenin through the process of maderisation. Thankfully it worked out.”
The flor component flips the blend on its head. “It creates nutty aldehydic aromas. We’re not looking to create a chenin that tastes like fruit. We’re exploring the more earthy aromatics and flavours that at first don’t look so pretty, but ultimately make for wines you can’t stop sipping . You need to follow your senses and go down the yellow brick road.”
It’s not a journey he’s embarked on alone. The wine brands are a project with Samantha Suddons (his life partner as well as business partner) finance guy Michael Roets and wine merchant Roland Peens (Wine Cellar).
He met Suddons in the Netherlands (where his mother is from) through mutual family friends. “Initially we couldn’t stand each other, but we started a slow burn of friendship that deepened and finally blossomed into us falling in love. We both wanted a life where we could be close to nature, get out of the city and avoid some of the complications of modern life yet at the same time do something meaningful, beautiful and mentally stimulating. Wine was a no-brainer.”
So, Mostert and Suddons kept following their yellow brick road, right up to Reyneke Wines in Stellenbosch. “We worked in the tasting room and I grabbed any chance I could to be involved in little things in the cellar. The first was bottling the Cornerstone 2009, which I’ll never forget. Eventually I took on more responsibility.”
Back to the tasting, the Smiley Red, a non-vintage Rhône-style blend, had been presented and he’s now musing over the Silwervis White 2015: “We do seem to have a lot of white flower our chenins, it’s something that makes us stand out in the world. The Silwervis is made in a concrete egg, and there’s also a red version, a straight Cinsault.
“With the Silwervis there’s always going to be a stamp of the vintage. We’re all gravitating to being closer to the earth.”
Speaking of, the Terracura 2015, which means to take care of the earth, is a blend of multiple syrah vineyards. “This is what happens with wine when you throw out the recipe book and really work your terroir,” says Mostert. “We find that edge of intrigue but also of clarity, we put the earth into the bottle.”
“It’s about broken, gritty fingernails—and not roses at the end of vineyards.”
From where did Mostert get this spirit? “My parents came from fairly tough and humble beginnings and worked to give us a decent life. Humility was a trait that I respected in both of them. From an early age they encouraged me to think deeper, scratch under the surface of things and to be open minded.”
Full tasting notes for the new releases here.