“Everything began with the grandfathers in whose honour I named this range” – Pieter Gabriel Rossouw 

By Lucie Vos | 20 OCT 2022

Nestled at the foot of the Stormsvlei mountain range between Bonnievale and Swellendam lies Hoekoe, a dairy farm at the Southern tip of Africa, pioneering the making of wine true to its origin. The area is well known for its mineral rich soils, the cooling influence of the ocean and the transformative powers of maritime winds, so it is no surprise that the Gabriel & Gysbert range of wines are an expression of the land.  

As a fourth-generation farmer from this Breedekloof hamlet, Pieter is no stranger to the perils of starting a wine journey. With years of experience under his belt, he not only brings a plethora of knowledge and a passion driven by new and old-world styles, but intuition to create these signature wines. It takes time to truly understand terroir; each block of land has its own character, climate, and growing traditions. Intuition, based on a generational insight for the grapes of the region resulted in wines that are a delight in your glass.

With his maiden vintages now in bottle, there is much to look forward to as Pieter crafts the Gabriel & Gysbert legacy…

The region is well known for the production of fruit-driven wines with a rich bounty of minerality, flintiness and a smokiness born from the sandstone and shale Bokkeveld soils. And although relatively unheard of, wines of Bonnievale are coming to the forefront as hidden gems. Using the land to his advantage, Pieter has produced two wines in his maiden voyage, the fresh pleasure of his chardonnay, Ijsland and a harmonious Cabernet Sauvignon, Kwartskop. Ijsland has influences of two distinctly different slopes, one of lime and freshness of acidity and the other with unctuous notes of white pear and yellow fruits, giving this wine both character and purity. Pale gold in the glass, with citrus aromas and well-integrated acidity, it has wonderful vibrancy and richness reminiscent of oyster shells and salty sea spray. Kwartskop, planted next to a bedrock ridge with a lot of white quartz is a subtle cabernet, with fine balanced tannins, perfumed floral notes and fruit flavours strong on the palate. An elegant and linear pour quite distinct from similar varietals, a wine as tall as the man himself. Pieter was rather adamant both need to be a natural expression of their heritage, with subtle structure and a long finish. Something he has managed to achieve. He set out to make the best wines possible, with minimal intervention, that perfectly express the grapes and their terroir, not an easy task, and yet this gentle giant seems to have done just that. He says he was very happy when harvesting began, and this lightness of being has transferred into the bottle. A philosophy of harmoniousness, where the results speak for themselves. 

They also look lovely on the shelf, and although as Pieter says, would do well to gather dust for a year or two, is a favourite to drink right now. The origin of the label comes from a quilt his mother made him, designs that reflected favourite pastimes and activities on the farm. There’s a fishing rod with a fish at the end of the line, a toy gun with birds in the background, a family cat sits underneath a tree, looking up at an owl on the branch, while, in the other corner, the farm tractor. All of these to forever show where Pieter comes from. 

Pieter’s philosophy of wine making and his passion for showcasing the strong flavours of the land has created something new and enticing. A welcome change to how we traditionally view these varietals. He doesn’t think he’ll change much in future vintages for now, other than planting more grape blocks, for our added pleasure, and he does think it will take some time to deeply tune into his different and beautiful terroir, but he is not afraid to paint outside the lines and push the boundaries. Being bold in his vinification is what will set Pieter apart from his peers, and in the words of the winemaker himself ~ unless you try, you will never know and succeed. 

Gabriel and Gysbert is a pleasing expression of the land, and Pieter’s long-held dream of making wines he could truly call his own has come together. And, as with all good things that metamorphosise over time, his current vintage is a limited small volume release. The next vintage is underway, and he has big plans for the future. Bottles that promise to delight on any occasion, a choice that will depend entirely on the available space in your cellar.

*This article was originally published by PORT2PORT

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