Donovan Rall started out studying a BSc in psychology at the University of Stellenbosch but then the wine bug bit and he switched to winemaking. He finished in 2005 and made his first own-label wine in 2008, the oxidative white blend promptly rating 5 Stars in the 2010 edition of Platter’s as did the 2009 in 2011.
His white is much in the vein of Sadie’s Palladius and the other Swartland wines of this ilk but it would not be entirely right to view him as another of the “revolutionaries”. His current-release 2011 might include 50% Swartland Chenin Blanc but also includes 25% Helderberg Verdelho and 15% Chardonnay as well as 10% Viognier from Bottelary.
“I can’t see myself living in Riebeek Kasteel at this stage of my life,” says Rall, now 30 years old. Besides the Swartland night life or lack thereof, he also thinks he can make better wine by opting to go multi-regional. “I don’t want to take away from the end-wine simply to be region specific. I’m sold on varieties before terroir – so far I’ve found nothing that stands out so much that I only want to use that little parcel”.
The White 2011 (R180 a bottle) is to my mind the best wine he’s made to date. Previous vintages have had an opulence about them at the expense of real balance and finesse while the new vintage is much closer to complete. Luscious yellow fruit upfront but now offset by really lively acidity. There’s a sense of a winemaking vision becoming ever clearer although I still think it has a way to go before might be considered entirely classic. Score: 17/20.