Noticeably humorous in nature and admirably pleasant in personality, at first meet you wouldn’t think that Razvan Macici is one of South Africa’s big names in the wine industry. The subject of wine itself is usually approached with caution and the few that have mastered the trade are viewed with a bit of pretentious air around them. Yet Razvan, a holder of a Masters in viticulture and oenology from the University of IASI-Romania and one of Nederburg’s cellar masters, is as humble as they come.
Born in Romania in the vineyards of Dealu Mare, Razvan comes from a family of wine makers and his father, Mihai, a prominent Romanian winemaker, made his award-winning name with noble late harvest wines on the famous Pietroasa Estate in the area. Now, following closely in his parent’s footsteps, Razvan Macici has developed award winning wine selections with the Nederburg range since taking over as cellar master in 2001. He has proved equally adept at making red, white and dessert wines for which Nederburg had become especially well known under Günter Brözel.
On his recent visit to Kenya we decided to catch up and have a one on one with him to find out more about the wine master himself.
Tell us a bit about Nederburg
Well Nederburg goes back to the 18 hundreds, that’s almost 220 years of operations in the market. We own around 1,100 hectares of vineyard down in South Africa where we produce all the wines up to the process of harvesting and processing. In total we are about 5 wine masters who oversee all the winemaking production processes.
What about yourself?
I am an enthusiastic and positive person. I love my job and believe in attention to detail, and most of all I don’t like short cuts in any work that I do.
What’s the biggest misconception about wine appreciation?
We tend to overcomplicate wine, it’s seen as an intimidating drink, not like beer where you buy without second-guessing and enjoy without having to comment on anything. With wine one feels compelled to suddenly become an intellectual and philosophical. To the contrary, you should be able to take pleasure having a glass of wine and quite fittingly Nederburg makes ‘wine friendly’ bottles that are more approachable and consumer friendly, where people do not hesitate to grab one from the shelf.
How can we train our palates for wine pairings, given that it’s very subjective?
Take it with a light note and don’t complicate it. Enjoy it because I believe there are no set rules and there are no mistakes in enjoying wine. Just a couple of basic considerations that this wine goes with that but its always better to experiment, try it out for yourself and taste even more to train your palate.
What’s your favourite wine-food combination?
Though there are many wines to narrow down, one of my favourites is definitely the Red Shiraz. My wife makes very good and delicious roast lamb that goes beautifully with it. My perfect combination dish would be-fresh figs with blue cheese, walnuts and bread all laid out on a platter accompanied with some ice chilled noble late wine. I always say it’s where you are, who are with and the ambiance that just brings everything together.
What can you term as your greatest achievement as a Wine Maker?
Very many things, but a few days ago, I was crowned the title ‘wine maker of the year’ with one of my dessert wines and I think that’s just super. I’m enjoying it so much and I’m trying to very humble about it.
What do you when you are not making rounds at the vineyard/cellar?
I spend time with my kids to compensate the huge amount of time I take travelling, I normally take some time off for sports, and I hang out friends or watch some local rugby with my son. I will read during quiet evenings or draw and paint.
Any advice to give for people who want to take up the Wine Master course?
I think it’s a wonderful and satisfying profession but there’s much more to wine making than just what people see and think from the outside; it’s not just about sitting and drinking wine. It’s not necessarily an easy job so you need to love it, learn the vineyards, the soil, and the crop. It’s a lot of work but very rewarding as you have a chance to create something.
Commercially I usually say it’s easier to make a wine than to sell it. You have to craft a wine that will be able to be suitable for your consumer’s palate