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Riding the New Wave – Rall Wines’ Sunkissed Swartland Magic

As one of the original “garagista” producers of the modern era, Donovan Rall has been an important figure in South Africa’s revolutionary New Wave movement. Well-travelled, affable, and ambitious, he trained at the University of Stellenbosch and worked in wineries across Europe and New Zealand. His talent and reputation soon caught the attention of the legendary Eben Sadie, and Donovan returned to South Africa, joining him as his assistant winemaker in 2007. Within the space of a year though, Donovan had six barrels tucked away under his own name, and the inaugural Rall White was born. Seldomly does a wine debut with a Platter’s 5-Star Award from the most influential tasting panel in South Africa. Even more rarely does the “difficult second album” also top the charts –Donovan had back-to-back hits. This, at a time when the young guns had not yet broken through. The immediate critical acclaim motivated him to strike out on his own and gradually build a highly sought after portfolio of small batch, Mediterranean-inspired wines that marry South Africa’s warm climate with a bit of New Wave focus and precision. He has never looked back.
Riding the New Wave

There is always a sense when tasting the wines of Donovan Rall that he is not inclined to operate strictly according to the rules. The result is that everything he makes is at least intriguing while his very best wines are truly extraordinary in their presence and distinctiveness.

Christian Eedes, July 2020
Rall Wines

This guy really does have the magic touch.

Jancis Robinson MW, June 2020

Discover More on Rall Wines

Over time, Rall has developed a reputation as a master blender, and fine-tuned his style in pursuit of more vivid, fresher wines. His success in that pursuit has placed him in high demand as a consultant to various estates around the country. For the Rall Wines project though, he works primarily in the Swartland, where, with a handshake and a few helpful introductions, he has contracted a combination of small, top-quality old-vine parcels and larger, well-established vineyards which he shares, in typically collaborative fashion, with leading producers such as Chris Alheit, Duncan Savage and David Sadie. Moreover, he has been involved in planting new vineyards and varieties so as to safeguard quality for the next generation. To that palette he adds prime fruit from the Piekenierskloof, Darling and Stellenbosch regions.

A huge advocate for both terroir and texture in his wines, Donovan’s beautiful range speaks to the rich, often schist, but also granite-inflected fruit and minerality of truly individual old-vine sites. He adapts cellar work to suit the nature and variety in each plot, but natural, spontaneous fermentations and no additions whatsoever (other than a touch of sulphur at bottling) is a given. Aging takes place in different vessels including concrete eggs, larger casks, used barriques, and even clay amphora. This is small batch, sensitive South African winemaking at its apogee.

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