De Wetshof Takes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to Ancestral Burgundian Home

Presenting South African Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines to throngs of discerning French wine-lovers in the heart of Burgundy can make a person feel like he is donning a paint-brush in-front of Picasso. But according to Peter de Wet, De Wetshof wine-maker, the experience of sharing one’s wines with visitors to this year’s Dijon International and Gastronomic Fair which ended this week, was one of the highlights of his career.


Peter de Wet.

“As part of a select group of South African wine producers asked to show our wines at the Fair’s ViniDivio Wine Exhibition, it was an enormous privilege to engage with French wine-lovers,” says De Wet. “The fact that De Wetshof specialises in the Burgundian varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which we were presenting in the Burgundian capital of Dijon made this a challenging, exciting and – for a passionate lover of these varieties – rather heartfelt experience.”

De Wet says that visitors to the ViniDivio Exhibition ranged from young and old, professional to recreational wine-lovers, students and journalists. “But no matter from which walk of life they came, all these people shared a knowledge and respect for wine which I found startling. A shaggy-haired student would grill you on the use of malolactic fermentation in South Africa while a housewife donning a baguette in one hand and a glass in the other wanted to know the timeline from veraison to harvesting in our sunny climate.

“And of course, some wine-buffs were eager to draw one into technical debates, as long as the outcome of said debate exposed France as the superior wine-making country, as one could expect.”

According to De Wet, visitors to the ViniDivio Exhibition were impressed and somewhat surprised by the commitment to site-specific and terrain distinctive wine production shown by De Wetshof and other South African producers.

“In the case of De Wetshof we have always walked the Burgundian route of matching various Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs to individual vineyards showing unique characteristics in terms of soil, aspect and climate which will leave their own fingerprint on each different wine. The general feeling among the French visitors was that this commitment to site individuality is the only way to make wines of provenance, heritage and individuality.

“And who can argue with them – they are the masters!”