Meet the winemaker: We chat to Bertus Fourie from Barista Wines
We spoke to Bertus Fourie, winemaker from Barista Wines and the creator of the first ever coffee Pinotage. This is what he had to say about his specialty and where his inspiration came from:
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Malmesbury, heart of the Swartland – hence my love for wine. I currently live in Wellington married to a winemaker, Corlea. We have an 11 year old daughter, Nelleke, and a pigeon pair of 4 year old twins, Gerhard and Mia.
When did you realize that you wanted to make wine?
I always loved wine, but never thought of it as a career. It was just a “normal” part of our lives, like kissing goodbye, or reading the Sunday paper. Only when the University of Stellenbosch made an “administrative mistake”, and I was not in fact selected to do medicine, did I decide to study wine. I attended my first class in Oenology, fell in love with it and knew there and then that I was born to be what I am today: a winemaker.
What makes the wines you create stand out from the crowd?
1. The first Coffee Pinotage in the world.
2. The first wine that converts spirit drinkers to wine.
3. The first wine that converts white wine drinkers to red wine.
4. The first wine that befriends the “average” consumer, and “demystifies” wine jargon completely
5. The first wine that makes “traditionalists” so angry they want to scream!
In your opinion, how much does terroir influence your wines?
Coffee Pinotage = 0%. Too many winemakers speak about terroir! In my opinion you can only talk about terroir specific wines if you are Nicolas Joly.
Describe the special qualities of Barista Pinotage
I use a commercial yeast strain with a unique sulphur metabolism. The yeast produces precursors for the “coffee aromas” (called furfuralthiol-components by oenologists, and was identified in real, toasted coffee beans) as a result of its metabolism. No need to physically “stress” the yeast – it happens automatically as a result of fermentation at 30 degrees Celsius and increasing alcohol during primary fermentation. The fermentation is completed on oak which, as a function of its toasting, yields the furfural component that completes the coffee aroma.
We use 100% new French oak. American oak yields too much vanilla characters that may dominate the aromatic profile. Different toasting temperatures yield different aromatics in the oak, as it is a function of heat and time. Both can be managed effectively during the process. It also gives you the flexibility to obtain a specific toasting “profile” as we did. We flew to the cooperage where the oak is produced, and worked with the coopers on what we call “Barista House Toast”- profile, which is used for a particular portion of the wine. The focus remains to guarantee a homogenous, complex style where coffee, chocolate and fruit aromas amplify each other’s intensity.
Partial fermentation on oak is followed by Malolactic fermentation on oak. The wine is racked during the winter months, and taken back to the oak for yet another 4-6 months after which it stabilized.
Is the coffee flavour more pronounced in Pinotage vs. other red varietals?
I have worked on various combinations: cultivars, yeasts, oak – ONLY Pinotage evolves into this wonderful, rich coffee, chocolate and red fruit profile. I often listen to clever winemakers saying it can be achieved with any other varietal, oak and yeast as the coffee is nothing other than a fermentation artifact – we are, however, talking about a specific aromatic profile and a specific soft, luscious, palate. There MUST be something wonderful in Pinotage grapes that allow for this aroma profile, and the way it develops in the bottle!
How do you feel about your nickname, ‘Starbucks’? Has the Starbucks coffee company contacted you about using it?
I love coffee. I love Starbucks. And I am proud to be known as the “father of Coffee Pinotage”. Unfortunately Starbucks has not contacted me, but I would love to receive a few packets of roasted beans once in a while.
Barista Pinotage is a unique distinctive wine that is coffee-flavoured and produced with enough care to make it a taste you will remember and be one that you would ask for more of. Have a taste today!
Check out these great recipes by Bertus for crispy pork belly with beetroot relish and young vegetables and duck breast and mixed baby leaf salad with potato sack, and don’t forget to enter our competition to win Le Creuset kitchenware and two cases of Barista wine.