About Ex Animo Wine Co.
Welcome to the Ex Animo Wine Company
"I came across so many [wines] that were finely made, pure, linear and fresh that it became impossible to list them without producing a document that read like a catalogue"
— Michael Fridjhon, Business Day (reporting on an Ex Animo Wine Co. Tasting)
The Short Version
In a nutshell Ex Animo Wine Co. is a wine distributor, merchant, importer and exporter based in Cape Town.
Who We Are
We are David (originally from Australia) and Jeannette (born and bred SA) Clarke; both qualified sommeliers with decades of international wine experience who are passionate about food and wine.
What We Do
We work with and represent an exclusive group of producers who are passionate about vineyards and aspire to reflect them in the cellar.
Ex Animo is both a wine distributor and a wine merchant. From 2014 to 2020 Ex Animo was strictly a wholesale distribution business, supplying high-end retail and fine dining restaurants. In the second half of 2020 we acquired a retail liquor licence, this has since enabled us to set up an online wine store and organise events such as tastings, dinners and seminars.
Imports were added in 2022.
Beer is also important
What does 'Ex Animo' mean?
Ex Animo means “from the heart” in Latin and is at the centre of everything we do.
We believe passion and the artistry that accompanies it are a huge part of what separates good producers from the great.
"Making good wine is a skill, making fine wine is an art"
— Robert Mondavi
Ex Animo was started in 2014 by husband and wife team David and Jeannette Clarke.
They met in London in 2004 where they were both working for the Harrod’s Wine Department in Knightsbridge, at that time one of the most prestigious wine shops in the world.
Jeannette had moved to London after obtaining her BSc Agriculture with Enology and Viticulture from Stellenbosch University and then working multiple harvests in South Africa, California and New Zealand.
David had worked for 5 years in fine wine retail in his native Melbourne, and arrived in London via a three month tour of the wine regions of Italy, France and Spain.
Jeannette was helpless against David’s charms and they were married in 2007 and moved to Melbourne.
During a happy five years in Melbourne, both David and Jeannette both starting working in fine dining restaurants. They soon both passed the Certified Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers. They continued to work separately as Head Sommeliers at high end restaurants in Melbourne until 2011/2.
Once their daughter was born in 2012, it was a countdown to moving to South Africa where Jeannette wanted to be near her family. They moved in January 2013.
Prior to the permanent move to Cape Town, Jeannette and David flew out to attend Cape Wine 2012 in October that year. Although they had worked in fine wine in London and Melbourne for the last seven years, South African wine did not form a large part of their day-to-day. This trip was a mission of reconnaissance to find out what was happening in South African wine, and what part the Clarkes may be able to play in it.
To their surprise they found a core group of mainly (but not all) young producers who were making some of the most exciting wines either Jeannette or David had tasted. Their experiences of South African fine wine in London and in Melbourne had been limited to the classic names of the previous 20 years. While many of these wines were very good, and were well made – very few were deemed ‘exciting’.
The wines of Craig Hawkins (TESTALONGA), Jurgen Gouws (Intellego) and Johan Meyer (J H Meyer Signature Wines) stood out immediately. When the Clarkes enquired where in South Africa they could find these wines they were told that the vast majority was exported, as it was too difficult (due both to logistics and style) to sell locally. The idea for a distribution company germinated on that trip.
18 months later, after moving permanently to South Africa, and waiting (not so) patiently for Home Affairs to complete the paperwork, Ex Animo Wine Co. started trading in April 2014. The first price list featured JH Meyer Signature Wines, and Trizanne Signature Wines. Soon after Thorne & Daughters was added, and quickly after that Julien Schaal. It has been one hell of a ride from there to here, and long may it continue!