“The quality of the Pinot Noir parcel allocated to me showed great potential and I could not have asked for a better year to make my first barrel,” says an enthusiastic Urle Hansen upon pressing the grapes for his maiden wine. The Hemel-en-Aarde of course is renowned for top quality Pinot Noir which happens to be Urle’s favourite cultivar; small wonder therefore that having been offered the opportunity to make his own wine, Urle chose Pinot.
The27-year-old Urle grew up on a farm right next to Creation called Diepgat and attended Diepgat Primary before progressing to Swartberg Secondary School in Caledon. After school he enrolled for a course in Electrical Engineering at Boland College, joining Creation Wines in 2013 as a cellar hand. His passion and fortitude soon won him the respect of his peers and he has since been promoted to cellar assistant. “Since my first year working at Creation I have always wanted to make my own wine,” says Urle.
When he was selected as a participant in the Burgundy Exchange Programme facilitated by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture last year, Urle embraced the opportunity with open arms. Looking back he describes the six weeks he spent in Burgundy as an amazing experience. “From learning the way they make wine, to the way they enjoy it was tremendous. It gave me new inspiration – also to appreciate my surroundings and the opportunities I have to learn and grow.”
What to expect from Urle’s first barrel? “Having worked with JC for the past six years I have come to learn not to spill too many beans but rather wait for the wine to speak for itself,” says Urle. What he does reveal is that 25 to 30 percent of the Pinot Noir grapes were whole-bunch pressed and then left in a 500-litre French oak barrel for two days’ cold maceration where wild yeast fermentation took place. “Minimal intervention with the grapes is another approach I have learnt from JC.”
For the future Urle looks forward to experiencing the harvest in other wine regions and bringing that experience back home, ‘’… each year making my barrel of wine with my own label showcasing my skills and style.’’ To which he adds: ‘’I cannot thank JC and Carolyn enough for all the opportunities they have given me over the past six years. I am privileged to have JC as my mentor and having his skills and knowledge to guide me through developing my career.’’
Long may Urle’s dreams come true!