Who is behind the Paulus project, how was it born and for what purpose?
There are two of us, Paul and I (Pauline), both winegrowers and oenologists. Paul is South African and I am French. We present ourselves as winemakers looking for grapes to make unique wines.
In 2016, while working together for an estate in Paardeberg (Swartland region), we discovered that we shared the same vision of winemaking. Two years later, we created Paulus Wine Co.
We wanted to work with Chenin Blanc, a grape variety that is close to our hearts, on which we wanted to focus and improve. Making wine for us is above all telling the story of a place. The wine is like the minutes of the meeting that took place the year before, where everything comes together.
Our duo’s first wine is called ‘Bosberaad’, an Afrikaan word which translates to “an encounter with all the elements of nature”.
The goal is to produce wines that find and maintain this natural balance between all controllable and uncontrollable, visible and invisible elements...
What did you do before creating Paulus and how do you work together?
Paul, after years of travel and oenological experiences, has been working alongside Eben Sadie for 10 years. For my part, I had to return to Tuscany. But I decide to do one last harvest in South Africa and total surprise… I fall in love with the country. After working with Adi Badenhorst and Andrea Mullineux, I chose to focus entirely on the Paulus Wine Co. and Vino PH projects.
Paul is in the vineyards, and I am in the cellar. We work in pairs, we communicate a lot. The harvest dates and the work in the vines are discussed and chosen together, all the important decisions of the cellar are approved before being executed... I often say that Paul is my "psychiatrist", always calm and thoughtful. He channels my energy and my ideas, and we complement each other very well. We each need each other in this adventure.
Where are your vines located in South Africa and what are their characteristics?
Finding the right vineyard to grow the Chenin Blanc that produces the Bosberaad vintage was quite easy. It is located in Paardeberg, in the Siebritskloof valley, and belongs to our very dear friend Francesca Shreiber, a young winemaker who has already proven herself.
The vines are trained in cups and cultivated organically. They were planted in 1980 on decomposed granite on an east-facing ridge, limiting the powerful sunshine in the region. The plot is exposed to the sun for a relatively short time, due to the valley bottom position, which limits the 'ripe' Chenin notes that one usually gets from a Swartland vineyard. The lower part, right in the middle of the valley, is much greener than the upper part, giving a good balance of flavors and textures.
The granite terroir brings a certain minerality, some saline notes, and a hint of reduction which highlights and elevates the freshness on the finish.
We offer the Bosberaad vintage in Chenin Blanc, can you describe this wine to us?
Bosberaad is in fact a place where all the elements and parameters necessary for the creation of a wine can come together: the vine, the terroir, the human, the energies. It is outside, in nature, that we make our decisions, that we can consider changes. It’s a place where we unpack our ideas, study them and implement them.
Our objective, with Bosberaad, is to promote the work of the winegrower, through minimalist, precise winemaking, and to make the terroir speak. We harvest by hand, we press the grapes in whole bunches, and we ferment the juice in old oak barrels. The wine is then aged on lees for around ten months, then racked and bottled.
All this results in a wine with delicate acidity, between this classic side of apple and honey typical of Chenins, a character of citrus, lime and a floral nose with waxy notes.
Bartas and Vino PH Palomino. Can you introduce us to these two wines?
Our wine adventure with Paul has brought us to a new stage, the addition of a second wine to our range. Bartàs is an Occitan slang name which means “to walk, to struggle in the bush, in the vineyard, to find your way to the cliff”. It’s a beautiful metaphor for our wine journey. We found our way and finally took ‘the plunge’, leading to a new (wine) adventure.
Always (and again) Chenin Blanc, but this time from a completely different terroir, that of Stellenbosh.
Chenin Blanc is an astonishing grape variety
Chenin Blanc is an astonishing grape variety, a “very honest” grape variety in our opinion. We try to explore all aspects of grapes! The vines in goblet were planted in 1978, on warm, shallow granitic soils in Helderberg, the southernmost part of the Stellenbosch region.
Harvested by hand and pressed in whole bunches in old oak barrels, it is spontaneously fermented and aged in 500 liter barrels for 12 months, before being racked and bottled.
The plot is located on the Rustenhof farm. The vines, irrigated, are planted on a small hill made of decomposed granite. The vines face a prevailing south-east wind and are 5km as the crow flies from the Atlantic Ocean. These two elements, the wind and the ocean, have a phenomenal cooling effect during the summer months as well as the general growth pattern throughout the year.
On the nose, we find a variety of citrus fruits, fresh fruits, green pineapple and cantaloupe melon. The palate expresses precision and tension, the pure fruit balances lively acidity. The finish is long and spicy, wonderfully refined with a crystalline structure.
The second wine, Vino pH, is a completely separate project from Paulus. This is a collaboration between the French & Africa Girl Team, Pauline & Hanneke, a South African winemaker and me, the French. Two passionate young winegrowers, driven by our curiosity and our energy for life.
We're friends first and foremost, but we're a team when it comes to making things happen and creating magic. We both see wine in the same way, a product of science but also of the soul. We are both motivated and very disciplined when it comes to winemaking, passionate about wine and sharing the same work and life ethic. Curious and experimental, we like to apply our mind to the things we do and we like to understand where things come from but at the same time let ourselves be guided by our intuition and our feelings.
For several years, we have been producing 2 wines: pH Palomino White & pHd Buikkettraube Pet Nat, two natural wines made from organic grapes. We work with grapes from Piekernieskloof (for Palomino) and Swartland (for the Bukettraube grape variety). We employ a minimal intervention approach to transform these grapes into delicious wine. All our wines are natural, without fining, filtration or addition, apart from a 'kiss' of sulfur. The wines are all made in a cellar that we rent in Paardeberg on Adi Badenhorst's farm.
Through this Vino pH collaboration, we (p&H) first want to open the eyes of wine lovers to the incredible variety of grape varieties available in South Africa. It is our responsibility to offer new grape varieties and styles of wine.
The PH Palomino vines
The PH Palomino vines are located at 670m above sea level, at the top of Piekenierskloof, the vineyard was planted in the 1970s in the typical Table Mountain sandstone. The vines, planted in cups, are loaded with large clusters of pale yellow color at harvest time. We harvested the grapes to try to obtain beautiful tannins in the skins. We pressed 50% and put the juice in 500L barrels to ferment. The remaining 50% was destemmed and fermented on skins for 7 days. After pressing, this portion was also aged in old 500L barrels. We feel like this added a nice texture to the wine. Fermentation is spontaneous. The wine is naturally stabilized and settled without filtration before bottling.
The Palomino was aged in bottles for 6 months before its release. We think that this wine can be kept in the cellar for 5 to 10 years. On the nose we have herbaceous notes of fennel and straw. Quince and pear are also perceptible when opening the wine. Beautiful mineral and tasty finish on the palate…