François Naudé: #SAWINELEGENDS

Wednesday, 3 April, 2019
WoSA Blog, Malu Lambert
Down a quiet residential street in Stellenbosch you’ll find ‘Château Naudé’, the home of celebrated winemaker, François Naudé. Modernity—in the forms of offices and apartment blocks—have sprung up around the heritage home, a bona fide national monument. François has lived here for 30 odd years.

Like summers trapped in bottles of vintages-past, stepping through the doorway of his home invites you into a nostalgic maelstrom. Photographs of family and friends cover the walls, antique furniture gleams darkly in the low light. There’s wine everywhere; from the subject of art and books as well as bottles piled on every available surface to the subterranean cellar that he built himself.

He leads me past an indoor fireplace the size of a small car, and into the country-styled kitchen. “This is Isabella,” he says opening the door for his dog, a Maltese and fox terrier cross. “The friendliest dog in the world.”

Like dog, like owner; Francois is a self-confessed people’s person. He chats away as he bustles around in the kitchen making us coffee (it’s just, just too early for wine).

He’s in the midst of preparing for Le Vin de François Auction: an annual event where guests are collected from their homes and taken to a secret destination for an auction where the entire vintage of ‘arguably the best pinotage in the world’ is sold off in one evening.

Le Vin de François is a family project that began after his retirement in 2005 from L'Avenir Wine Estate as winemaker and cellarmaster where he garnered countless accolades. Among them the Chardonnay du Monde and the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London, from which he has brought home the Perold Trophy (for the best Pinotage in the world) three times. L’Avenir Pinotage also became a winner in the ABSA Top 10 Competition for a record seven times.

Le Vin de François falls under the stable of Chateau Naudé Wine Creation, a joint venture with his son François jnr and daughter Melissa. François compiles the flagship pinotage after tasting through the cellars of various leading producers—for the ultimate pinotage.

These days he is also the Keeper of the Key of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild, an honorary member of The Pinotage Association and is chairing the Stellenbosch Wine Circle (the second oldest Wine Guild in South Africa).

Not bad for a winemaker who began his self-taught career at the age of 45.

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