There’s a good chance that you know a thing or two about Môreson.
This family-owned farm in Franschoek is home to the fantastic Bread & Wine restaurant and the popular Miss Molly range of wine and bubbly. I first bought a bottle of the bubbly for the remarkable coincidence of our friends also having a “Miss Molly”:
“Hey guys, check this out… They’ve named it after their dog, same as yours!”
Miss Molly, it turned out, was pregnant with octuplets and was not allowed to drink.
Anyway, the MCC is delicious, and soon it was being purchased and consumed by actual humans for valid reasons. It was also around this time that I learnt that the winemaker was an old friend. We had the perfect excuse to visit. So we did, many times in fact. But we never made it beyond Bread & Wine.
Turning onto Happy Valley Road is something every food and wine lover should experience, and the promise of the aforementioned bread (and cheese and charcuterie) & wine suggests that the road wasn’t named by an idiot.
This time we bypassed Jewell’s culinary jewel to meet head winemaker Clayton Reabow. It turns out that all his teachers were wrong and that he has in fact become a hugely ambitious and impressive winemaker. Let’s start with Môreson’s most critically acclaimed offering. The 2014 Mercator is 100% Chardonnay and has won everything but an Oscar. It’s a full-bodied, full-tasting, full-frontal* wine. They use a lot of new oak on it, which Clayton attributes to the soil on the farm:
“The grapes are great, but lack structure, so we give it back with new oak”.
It really is delicious, and if you like big, bold Chardonnays you won’t find many better than this.
Then there’s a little experiment they’ve been working on, which is individually bottling the various Chardonnay blocks from the 2013 Mercator. It’s not only a great pun; Clone Wars is effectively deconstructed Chardonnay. They've taken the components of a great wine, kept them separate throughout production and maturation and allowed wine geeks to taste and experience the way a winemaker might when constructing his final "blend". The force is strong with this one.
With the huge popularity and availability of Miss Molly, you could be forgiven for thinking that Môreson produces obscene amounts of wine. Of course, you’d be wrong. It is a genuine, family-run, boutique farm. Their production is limited, and attitude is spot-on. For starters, Clayton is very quick to deflect any praise that comes his way. Allow me to paraphrase:
Us:Amazing wine Reabow, well done. You’re a legend, let’s hang out all the time and…
Clayton: Actually we champion everyone involved in the process. Our viticulturist, farmworkers, cellar hands, labeling staff, tasting assistants are all responsible for the final product.
Us:Ja, sure but it’s mostly you.
Clayton: Actually, it’s mostly Nikki...
Nikki Friedman is the Managing Director of her family’s farm, and while she leaves the winemaking to Clayton, Nikki is in charge of just about everything else. Judging by how Môreson has jumped into the limelight recently, one would suggest they are both getting it right.
Nikki & Miss Molly
As for what they’re working on at the moment, things are about to get even more interesting. We marched around the pristine cellar, tasting a number of wines that are in the works. There’s an assortment of Cab’s, Cab Franc’s and Pinotage’s – all in limited quantities – sitting in waiting. Many of them won’t be released for a few more years, but there are already some exceptional wines here.
Like many others, Clayton is also working with Cinsaut – the oh-so-fashionable new varietal that isn’t new at all. Recently, winemakers from Somerset West to Darling have produced beautiful, light Pinot-esque versions from some of the oldest vines in the country. Clayton is going the other way, still with old vines, but producing bigger wines with more complexity and structure. It’s a big secret, so we’re not even going to mention how exciting they are.
If we are in the throws of a wine renaissance in the Cape (and we are), then an important aspect of this is the open-minded experimentation of talented winemakers. As long as there are new things being created, there’s a chance that something great will be discovered.
With this in mind, my favourite Môreson wine is the KnoPutiBak. It's Chardonnay (90%) with a splash of Semillon. And for me, that Semillon does to the Chardonnay what some wonderful soul did to Josh Groban, Westlife, Susan Boyle and many others. It raises it up, so that it can stand on mountains. It just gives it that nice fruity lift. Well, much like Josh Groban, Clayton is something of a pioneer here. You won’t find too many covers of his Chardonnay–Semillon blend yet, but they're coming.
At this point, I’d like to sing the virtues of Franschoek’s Old Vine Semillon, and humbly propose that you seek out whatever you can of this precious juice in whatever form you find it. Be it a single varietal, as a blending component, in a laughing gas or on a t-shirt. Buy it. In fact, here’s something you can take the bank. Say this with me:
“OLD VINE FRANSCHOEK SEMILLON MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER”
It was even written on a sign in the vineyards that we have absolutely not photoshopped (badly).
We’ll discuss the virtues of this magical grape another time. Until then, whether you're considering a drive down Happy Valley Road, lunch at the exceptional Bread & Wine, visiting the tasting room or just enjoying one of their wines at home, know that the Môreson vibe feels just right.
*full-frontal - We're hoping to create a new buzz-word wine descriptor. It means "not shy and awesome" in this case.