Paserene finds a permanent home in Franschhoek

Friday, 15 December, 2017
The flying martin has found his nest.

Paserene, the small family operated winery owned by Martin Smith and Ndabe Mareda, can now be tasted and bought at this brand’s new – and first – tasting room on the R45, in Franschhoek.

This high-end boutique wine brand includes Paserene Chardonnay (W.O Elgin), Paserene Marathon, a Bordeaux-style red and Paserene Union, a Rhône-inspired red blend. Since their first vintage in 2013, these wines have only grown in esteem and associated interest – most recently culminating in Paserene Chardonnay 2015 receiving a 5-Star rating in Platter’s Wine Guide 2018. 

Smith is an established winemaker who has worked numerous vintages locally and in the United States, and he has a reputation for making wines that are well-structured and refined – without lacking the expressive qualities associated with South Africa’s wines. Mareda, a businessman from Johannesburg with an appreciation for quality wines, immediately recognised the potential for Paserene to become one of South Africa’s top luxury wines – a complementary drive which solidified the Paserene partnership. “With this in place, in was time to find Paserene a home,” said Mareda. 

“It was important that this home reflected the authenticity of the brand, and that it was true to the wine labels’ artistic expression which captures the story of my travels as a flying winemaker, and the wines’ sense of place,” Smith added.

The name Paserene comes from the Latin word Passeriformes, the order of "traveling and free" birds containing swifts and swallows, and is also a play on the common house martin, a migratory passerine bird of the swallow family.  With this as inspiration, the new facilities reflect this ‘flight of the swallow’. Conceptualised and designed by SCS Architects, Etienne Stols, Principle Architect said: “The building was designed to complement the current landscape and not to be in competition but in harmony with its surroundings by creating an architectural language of hoes materials and soft organic forms.”

The result is a contemporary, but classically understated building resembling a martin’s nest: light wooden cladding is used to create a modern-style ‘crypto-porticus’, offset against rough slate accents, resembling the mud and clay swallows use to build their nests. Glass stack doors allow for the whole building to become an open structure, transforming the beautiful exterior into a natural extension of the interior. The facilities overlook a small dam, a clever nod towards the swallow’s habit of swooping over water.   

Paserene’s wine labels – created by Lorraine Loots, Carmen Ziervogel, and Lauren Ann McCarthy – will enjoy an authentic space from where to take flight. The swallow on the Marathon was created by Lorraine to commemorate Smith’s time in in the United States, and his traveling between South Africa and there. The colours used refer to the warmth and energy of the wine.

Ziervogel created the pencil sketch of the woman on the Chardonnay. Says Smith, “I wanted to have an image of a woman on the label because of where the wine is from and because the wine itself was always a woman to me. To me, Elgin is intoxicatingly beautiful. It is a gentle place with its hills and valleys, the way it gets rain and 18°C days while the rest of the country suffers a heat wave. Once you understand the place, the way she works, the rain, cold and ‘ever-greenness’, you fall in love. The wine is like that too. 100% Chardonnay that is fragile and yet powerful.”

Pasrene Union comes from Tulbagh. “Here the climate is totally different, warmer and drier than that of Elgin,” says Smith.

Both Ziervogel and Loots worked on the label, which shows a pencil outline of a woman who has her hand outstretched to a flying bird. Explains Smith, “it is here where the two elements come together. They were always drawn to each other. It is supposed to indicate what terroir really is, a careful dance between Mother Nature and the winemaker.”

He adds: “I am a precision winemaker, although I rarely add anything to my wines and I do not filter them, I spend a lot of time and effort on what exactly goes into the bottle. I want the person who drinks my wine to feel that it is a very special moment. When an architect creates his life’s work, you can marvel at it for 100 years to come. My life’s work you will wee out within an hour, so I better make that moment count.”

The new Paserene tasting room is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10h00 to 17h00
Contact: +27.218762714