Creation through the eyes of Adrian Garforth MW

This past month, 42 of the 416 international Masters of Wine spent nine days exploring the South African wine industry. As they experienced the different wine regions of the Western Cape, they had the opportunity to visit the cool-climate region of the Hemel-en-Aarde.  Among these influential experts was Adrian Garforth, a Master of Wine since 1993, and previous Executive Director of the Institute of Masters of Wine. Adrian has spent more than three decades working in the global wine industry, including time in South Africa during the crucial growing period of our wine industry. He now holds the position of Chief Strategic Officer of the world renowned 67 Pall Mall.

What follows are his impressions of Creation.

Hemel-en-Aarde; Heaven on earth? Marketing hyperbole surely, and given the vision and background of the first person to set down vine roots in this valley in the mid-70s, perhaps not surprisingly so.

But high up in the highest ward, the ‘Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge’, things do appear more than a little bit special, particularly when you step onto the Creation estate.

Wine is always a product of the land and the people who curate it, and hopefully given the global challenges we all face, all produced in a sustainable manner. And you can tell from every smiling employee’s face, that here lies a high level of personal professionalism, curiosity and interest within every activity; and that this is a character that purveys every single part of the organisation. Happy people is always a good start.

As we survey the vineyards, accompanied by the leading minds of Stellenbosch University and Vinpro, there is clearly a lot to be learnt from these farming practices that can and should benefit the industry as a whole. As Creation owner JC Martin proudly states, when these pinot noir and chardonnay vines are working in harmony with their environment, then vine management becomes far, far easier. So a happy place too.

And finally to the wines. Selling at and commanding a respectable premium to much of the local market, but still under-priced on the global stage, they are simply stunning. These are classic chardonnays and stunning pinot noirs brimming with bright red fruits, with a classic yet complex, plush fruit character; supremely well balanced with a long focussed finish. Wines with a nod to Burgundy, and hint of Oregon juiciness, yet still un-ashamedly South African.

This is a young and developing estate in a relatively young region, with so much that is good whilst recognising there is so much to learn. The team at Creation, with Carolyn Martin to the fore, are doing wonderful things and are sure to continue doing so within their happily sustainable business model.

There certainly is no marketing fluff here.

Maybe, just maybe, the valley designation is appropriate after all.

Adrian Garforth MW