"A fine wine always has to have a bit of restraint and control, and a lot of elegance.”
This is how Elunda Basson describes the perfect balance of an exquisite wine and she should know.
A specialist in her craft with a string of prestigious awards, the accomplished winemaker with an illustrious career in Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) has now been appointed as the new cellar master at Steenberg Vineyards.
Established in 1682, Steenberg is a farm steeped in history and renowned for producing some of the finest sauvignon blanc and MCC in South Africa.
Basson’s move from sparkling wines to stills is one she seems to be taking in her stride. “I have some big shoes to fill and have the added pressure of representing an iconic estate in Constantia,” she said.
She believes winemaking has basic principles and disciplines that need to be adhered to.
“If you have the quality of grapes like Steenberg has, then the winemaker needs to just finish off the work that nature has already done for us.”
Her passion for winemaking is one that she’s harboured from a young age. She always knew that she wanted to work in agriculture while studying at the University of Stellenbosch.
“I knew that wine and viticulture was the industry of most interest to me.
“Winemaking gives me the creative channel I need to live my passion. There is no greater thrill than to see people enjoying the fruits of your labour.”
Prior to becoming cellar master of the House of JC Le Roux in 2007, she cut her teeth in the industry at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek, followed by a seven-year stint at Nederburg.
And even with all her years of experience, she still has favourite varietals, stemming from her final year at Elsenburg where she was responsible for making sauvignon blanc and shiraz.
“I’ve had a love affair with both ever since. But I have to admit that bubbles have become a huge personal passion of mine and will always have a special place for me.”
Now it seems her career has come full circle as she takes over the reins from JD Pretorius in managing the winemaking operations at Steenberg. It’s a new chapter that she’s excited about.
Another thing that excites her is South Africa’s ability to produce world-class wines.
“We produce unbelievable quality wines and it’s time for us to own decent price points and not have to stand back for anyone else in the world,” she said.
And as for trends to look forward to?
“I think the world is watching to see what we can do on chenin blanc as a varietal. There seems to be an interest in the lesser-known varietals and good quality wines from unique terroirs with a beautiful story will surely never go out of trend.”