Interview: Nico Vermeulen of Ruitersvlei and Nico Vermeulen Wines
By Christian Eedes, 9 November 2015
From the November issue of Business Day WANTED: Nico Vermeulen, 61, is nothing if not a wine industry veteran. He completed his winemaking studies at Elsenburg agricultural college in 1977 before a stint at Simonsig and then L’Ormarins where he reported to the late Anthonij Rupert. Then it was off to Pomerol and St Emilion for a while before returning to help establish Savana Wines, Havaha Hills and Wedderwill in turn. About 18 months ago, he took a position at Paarl winery Ruitersvlei while continuing to make wines under his own label. He lives with wife, Judith, who is a primary school teacher, in Paarl.
Your Right White 2015 is a Sauvignon Blanc with grapes sourced from Lambert’s Bay, Darling and Durbanville.
What do the three different areas contribute to the final wine?
All the vineyards are close to the sea and this gives the wine a strong minerality.
You took up a position at Ruitersvlei in Agter-Paarl fairly recently. What’s in store from this property?
We embarked on a long-term planting program and we’ll be giving the range an overhaul. Watch out for a Sauvignon/Pinotage Rosé blend.
You’ve been involved in the South African wine industry for a good long while. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out?
That not all people can be trusted when it comes to what they say and do…
What’s been your most memorable wine experience ever?
Tasting a Chateau Petrus 1953. My year of birth. This was in Pomerol in 1997.
Hunting Springbok in the Karoo is a favourite activity. Tell us what makes it special.
The combination of friends and family. We go on an expedition every year and it’s a blessing to spend time with my father as well as my son and son-in-laws.
Fishing is also high on the agenda. Favourite fishing spots and why?
Henties Bay when I was younger.
Best catches ever?
It was during a competition sponsored by KWV. I caught the biggest cob of the day, weighing approximately 8 Kg. I won all the prize money of the day, if only by a few grams.
You say you’re a bit of a collector from stamps and coins to guns. Most treasured possession?
When it comes to stamps, I have a wide collection of first day issue sets from South Africa, Namibia and the old homelands. My coin collection is largely made up of Kruger Rands while my prize gun is a 7x57mm Boer War Mauser.
What is your ideal food pairing with The Right White?
I would enjoy it with freshly grilled or braaied fish with some lemon butter sauce and a fresh salad on the side.
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