Award-winning winemaker RJ Botha joins the team at Kleine Zalze

Friday, 18 January, 2013
Kleine Zalze
Multi-award winning Stellenbosch winery, Kleine Zalze, is delighted to announce a new member of the winemaking team with the arrival of RJ Botha from Nitida Wines
Kleine Zalze’s Cellarmaster, Johan Joubert, says “We are very pleased with RJ’s appointment as his passion and belief in getting quality wines in the bottle matches ours and I think he will go the extra mile for Kleine Zalze – which are all the qualities we wanted in a winemaker.”

RJ brings with him a wealth of experience. Following his graduation from Stellenbosch University, he worked internships at Château Angelus in Bordeaux before returning to South Africa and eventually taking up the post of winemaker at Nitida in 2007. During his time there, he won countless medals for his wines at a host of local and international shows and events. His crowning moment came in 2010 when he was named Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year for the Nitida Calligraphy – no mean feat considering the popularity of the chosen style for that year.

For RJ, moving to Kleine Zalze was a tough decision, but he is confident it is the right one. “Kleine Zalze consistently produces great wines and to be involved in such a dynamic and forward thinking winery is a fantastic opportunity for me!”

His experience to date has been with a smaller, boutique operation compared to Kleine Zalze and he admits he has much to learn from working in a bigger winery and, in particular, with a winemaker like Johan Joubert “Johan has set an incredibly high standard for Kleine Zalze and the performance of the wines bare testament to this.”

RJ’s intricate attention to detail style of winemaking experience was one of the factors which led Johan to choose him out of the 102 candidates who applied for the position. “We have been lucky enough to enjoy a considerable amount of success across all levels, but we feel we can do even better” he says. Johan’s aim is for him and RJ to have more time to focus on the premium brands, and the team they have put in place will allow them to develop their ideas for new wines and give them plenty of love and attention in order for them to come to fruition.

New wines are being planned, such as a premium white and red blend and Johan fully believes that they can ratchet the standards up even higher now that RJ has come on board. “What I like about RJ is that he is very much a perfectionist and highly driven to succeed.”

RJ has already taken part in blending some of the new releases and is looking forward to his first full harvest in 2013. In the meantime, he’s getting to know the wines more intimately and is already enjoying the Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (“I’m a Sauvignon man!”) and the Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc – “that’s flippen’ amazing wine!” With RJ’s passion and enthusiasm and Johan’s expertise, ideas and imagination, it seems that 2013 could be the greatest year yet at Kleine Zalze.