Who or what has had the biggest impact on you in winemaking?
I was lucky to get in to the industry via an apprenticeship. I spent 4 years at Kaapzicht with Danie Staedtler. David Finlayson taught me a lot and I remember the Platter Guide was half as thick as it is now.
Are you self taught, or did you study winemaking?
I am 100% self taught. I had been dreaming about making wine since I was 9 or 10 years old. I grew up in Johannesburg but loved the climate here in the Western Cape. I can remember reading the first edition of Wine Magazine in 93 or 94. Peter Ferriera was on the front cover.
What excites you about the wine business now?
It’s a tough industry right now. But I am lucky in that I work for an established brand with good channels internationally into the trade. Glen Carlou worked out what consumers in the US, for example, wanted to drink and we’ve had a long term view on our style of wine.
What are your favourite grapes, red and white?
Chardonnay, for the white. For red I’d go for Cabernet Sauvignon or a good Rhone blend with plenty of Shiraz.
What’s your favourite SA wine?
Jordan Chardonnay, unwooded, and the Nine Yards wooded.
What drives you mad about the business?
I hate the way South African media focuses on the negative. I think it’s a South African trait; we pack our bags to leave even if the cricket is half won. The infighting that goes on is very unappealing. It should be about the wine.
What’s the most interesting thing happening in South African wine at the moment?
Terroir specific varieties that work well within regions are worth studying and looking at. I am also interested in winemakers that follow the view that wines should “taste good, not wood”. The Swartland guys are doing interesting things here. Less wooded wines mean that it’s more about the grape.
What’s your ambition as a winemaker?
To drive the Glen Carlou name through the quality of our wines.
What advice would you give a young person considering a career in the industry?
Technical knowledge is not enough on its own. You need passion. It’s not all about walking barefoot amongst the vines.
What wine would you drink if you are stranded on a desert island, and it can’t be a South African one?
Puligny Montrachet, white Burgundy.
Glen Carlou are generously giving us a case of 6 bottles of their Classic Range to give away.
All you have to do is to tell us how many hectares comprise the Glen Carlou estate?
Arco Laarman, Winemaker,
Simondium Road, PO Box 23,
021 875 5528