BLANKbottle is Pieter H Walser’s creation. When in the UK, many people heard I was from South Africa and immediately jumped into praise of this crazy South African winemaker who produced these epic wines. Back on home turf they aren’t so easy to come by – so a chance opportunity to taste at my favourite wine bar was hugely appreciated! Unfortunately I didn’t have time to taste through the range. These wines evoke so much conversation that’s it’s never going to be quick sip and spit tasting.
Some say winemaking is an art. Well Pieter has taken the art of wine to a new, extreme and exciting level.
He buys from 58 vineyards in the Western Cape, picking 28 varietals from 68 lots over a period of 100 days (Jan 7 – mid-April) and from this he will produce 30 wines with a total production of 55,000 bottles. Half the wines will never make a reappearance – and the ones which do do not stick to a recipe they will evolve each year.
He doesn’t want his wines to be judged by their ‘cover’ or the varietal (s) used. So (this is where the name comes in) he keeps the labels as blank as possible with only the minimum information on. He “ appeals to the adventurous wine drinker and they buy my wines because they trust me – they give me money to take them on a journey.”
If sommeliers need stories in which to hand-sell boutique wines such as BLANKbottle’s then the concept behind the wine is tailor-made for this. Although there is no information on the label, there is a QR code that reveals the varietals and story behind the wine.
Each of Walser’s wines have different, distinctive-shaped bottles and a unique label all handmade with original artwork by Walser out of woodcuts, linocuts and painting.
“I buy from a vineyard that has a great story, make the wine, then it starts to take shape – the shape of the bottle, the name of the wine and then the label. It has got to be intriguing, the taste of the wine, the way it’s packaged, I like the wine to have many layers and the more layers there are the better.”
As for the winemaking itself Walser likes to adopt a non-interventionist approach. The wines are made in old oak barrels & left on the lees with no sulphur or enzymes added