Such a treat to start my weekend sipping the exquisite new releases from Momento with the gorgeous owner and winemaker Marelise Niemann.
I’ve always enjoyed her wines, without meaning to cast a gender stereotype, the wines are so intricate, delicate and detailed – you instantaneously sense the gentle touch of a woman.
— Marelise comments on the 2020 vintage:
We had favourable weather throughout the 2020 season, resulting in better yields than in 2019. Summer temperatures were moderate during the ripening period, with the absence of characteristic heat peaks. These conditions bode particularly well for flavour retention in grapes, allowing a longer hang time for some of the vineyards, with resulting in riper and bolder flavours in the white wines. The reds, meanwhile, are both showing beautiful brightness with promising structure and tannin.
As always, I’ve aimed to make wines with good structure and texture, to be great partners with food while having superb ageing potential. I’ve stayed true to my philosophy of making wines that speak of the place they come from, with a focus on the how those vineyards are farmed, and rounded off by pure and natural winemaking in the cellar.”
Sipping on the Chenin Blanc Verdelho 2020 is a wonderful place to start the journey with Marelise. There is something familiar yet so exciting about this wine, it’s chiseled and focused with an entrenched complexity. Marelise says “To me, Chenin Blanc without Verdelho is like dancing without music”. Stone fruit, fresh pineapple, beeswax and a line of salinity. A graceful dancer who captures the essence of the music.
Then we went on to a Grenache Blanc 2020 full of focus and a wonderful complexity, and excitingly a Grenache Gris 2020, from the only Grenache Gris vineyard in SA! Both elegant and exotic expressions.
Fulfilling the Grenache circle was the Grenache Noir 2020; luminous in colour it seduced on the eyes alone. “After just 3 weeks of working with ancient Grenache vineyards in Spain in 2010 I fell head over heels, utterly and ridiculously in love with this grape” She muses. And you know what, the wine reflects this infatuation. She clearly knows how to get the most out of Grenache. Pomegranate, redcurrant and tea leaf with a dusting of cinnamon, find the perfect harmony. A Grenache for Pinot Noir lovers. Beautifully light with just the right about of muscle. I would actually like to nominate Marelise as The South African Queen of Grenache. Take a bow Marelise you have mastered the craftsmanship of this beguiling variety.
The last wine in the line up was a seriously impressive 2020 Tinta Barocca. You would expect a chewy awkward adolescent, from this notoriously intense variety, but under Marelise’s gentle guidance the tannins offer a refined grip, the wine smooth & elegant, full of luscious dark purple fruit and an intriguing spiced savoury line. A great ode to Tinta Barocca, and an exceptional insight into its potential as a varietal wine.
Marelise is a very gifted winemaker, full of grace and spirit, both in person and in her wines. I can’t imagine her ever making a wine I wouldn’t love.