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Ataraxia

About the Winery

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Ataraxia… more than just a state of mind!

“It has being a long time coming and if fear were the basis on which decisions were made, then Ataraxia would never have been born”.  Kevin Grant.

After successive vintages where Kevin worked tirelessly to help establish the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley at the forefront of quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production in South Africa, “going it alone” became the obvious natural progression for this studious, passionate winemaking perfectionist. “For anybody mildly ambitious, being a good jockey on someone else’s horse is okay, but it’s not the ultimate. Jockeying your own thoroughbred successfully is the prize.”

“The immediate and crucial goal was to source grapes for Ataraxia’s maiden 2005 harvest. The emphasis was to ferret out vineyards that were individual and unique, either because of location, age or viticulture practice, and consequently were able to express in the wines I want to make, a very real sense of place. I was tremendously excited about the grapes for 2005. They fulfilled the set criteria in all ways and more! There was an aura in each of these vineyards and the resultant wines have vindicated their selection in the best way imaginable.  It was a fantastic way to launch the Ataraxia brand!”

In the meantime, always intending to remain based in the Walker Bay, Kevin set about scouring the region in search of that special piece of land that would become the home to the ultimate South African vin de terroir.  For this self-confessed terroiriste, this land acquisition has been a most important goal. “One cannot enter the Kentucky Derby on a donkey and expect to take home the prize money, even if you have the best jockey in the world on board. Unless, of course, you pump that donkey full of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs!”  After months of searching, soil testing and detailed analysis of potential sites, Kevin found and was able to purchase a 47 hectare “thoroughbred” piece of land in the convoluted foothills that flank the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley behind the coastal village of Hermanus.

Here Kevin pours his energy into expressing this newly acquired site’s sense of place through four handcrafted wines under his new label, “Ataraxia” – Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot noir and a red blend (Serenity).

“Sauvignon blanc has shown itself to be an enduringly popular and interesting variety in South Africa and has the ability, when planted in judiciously selected sites, to produce wines of class and finesse. What is so intriguing about this variety is that it is also very much a viticulturist’s grape, where attention to detail in the vineyard is an absolute prerequisite and cornerstone to the production of quality wines. I believe cool climate, alchemy-free Sauvignon blanc has an exciting future on the South African wine scene and I very much want to be part of that.”

“Chardonnay is a grape variety that I have been romanced by for more than 14 years, and the love affair deepens with each passing vintage! To my mind Chardonnay is the complete white grape variety. Although it demands respect, attention to detail, a comprehensive understanding of the terroir where the grapes grow and an intuitive flair, the wine gives of itself so completely when you get everything right that it’s hard not to become totally awed by it. It makes the consummate white wine. Life without Chardonnay is like not being able to breathe! The style Ataraxia pursues has as its foundation the expression of place in a wine of profound balance, elegance, finesse and texture – all of which are hallmarks of the great and classic wines of the World.”

On Pinot noir Grant continues: “It remains one of those elusive grape varieties that, once it has cast its spell on you, becomes and remains a life-long obsession and passion. It is a grape that I have developed a real feeling for and within the context of the challenges it poses to a winemaker I think I understand what is required to make great Pinot noir. In South Africa, experience and research has shown the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley to be unequivocally the most exciting and promising area for quality Pinot noir production, easily on a par with and often exceeding the quality attained in other New World Pinot noir producing regions. I believe I can take Pinot noir to heights not yet seen in this country.”

Ataraxia’s red blend has as its primary goal the ultimate expression of a red blend from South Africa. At present Kevin does not concentrate on the cultivars that make up this blend, or indeed what, if any, cultivar forms the backbone of the blend. The quest is to show that “where from” is far more decisive than “what from” and is the truest expression of a wine’s personality. Kevin has, however, always been excited at the notion of a seven, twelve, even fifteen variety blend, where the true art of blending is taken to its logical and comprehensive conclusion.

“I love the idea of being able to know instinctively that small percentages of certain varieties can impact the resultant blend in ways that are extremely subtle and almost indiscernible, yet without which the blend just comes up short of its real and true potential. It is not alchemy and it is certainly not just throwing a mixture together in a random, haphazard way. Rather it is a cerebral yet instinctive construction of a wine that transcends, sometimes in the most ethereal of ways, the potentially restrictive parameters of a single variety wine. Ataraxia may never embrace that large a number of varieties, but one thing is certain, it will always defer to the site from which the grapes originate, no matter how many varieties are used to make the wine.”

Until a cellar is built, Kevin is renting unutilised space in friends’ cellars, from which the Ataraxia range of wines is hand-crafted and nurtured.

And the name ATARAXIA? “It’s a term used to describe emotional tranquillity,” explains Kevin, “or in more expanded terms, the freedom from disturbance that characterises a balanced mind and constitutes its first step towards the achievement of pleasure. It’s really about conveying the very essence of what drinking good wine does for us and not to us as human beings.”

    Snow Mountain logo Good Wine Shop

    Snow Mountain

    About the Estate

    Snow Mountain logo Good Wine ShopIn 2004 a group of likeminded winemakers and fruit growers set out to make a wine from fruit grown in an extreme climate. This ideal saw the first vineyards planted on the steep slopes of the Winterhoek Mountains in Wellington, where they knew they would find the right soil and climate for what they had in mind.

    Like the great vineyards of Burgundy, where the conditions are characterised by frost and very low ground temperatures in winter and sunshines and fresh breezes in summer, so the Snow Mountain vineyards among the stone fruit orchards and Cape Fynbos flourish in similar conditions. Therefore it was almost natural to start with a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A Malbec and Syrah were later added to the collection, as well as the MCC Beulah in 2012.

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