Mother Rock Wines
“Some of South Africa’s top natural wines”
The Mother Rock brand started with the release of the Force Majeure Chenin Blanc 2012. It was the idea of winemaker Johan ‘Stompie’ Meyer and UK-based wine importer Ben Henshaw – they conspired to create an “artisanal, well-made South African Chenin Blanc at an accessible price”. Its continued global success over the years has resulted in the expansion of the range. These wines have always been an expression of Stompie’s adopted home, the Swartland.
Now called Force Celeste, this is the more accessible tier, with the Mother Rock label being reserved for the top wines.
Stompie makes the wines in his new (from vintage 2020 onwards) cellar at Platteklip Farm on the Piketberg Mountain in northern Swartland. These are natural wines, with organic farming a foundation of the project. In the cellar, Stompie keeps things very simple: no additions, often not even sulphur, relying on a combination of the quality of farming, picking early and his skill in the winery to produce expressive wines of honesty and heart.
There are vineyards being planted on the new farm that will eventually be used for this label in years to come.
The Force Celeste Cuvee PN is a Petillant Naturel made from Pinotage grapes. Commonly abbreviated to Pet Nat, this is a sparkling wine style that begins fermentation as normal (usually in tank) in the winery, but is bottled before that fermentation is finished, thus capturing the carbon dioxide produced from fermentation to provide the bubble. A vibrant, primary and pretty sparkling wine.
The Force Celeste Chenin Blanc is beautifully clean and vibrant, showing purity on the nose and on the palate. A lovely salty tang running throughout, with persistent lemon and pear characters. Bone dry and refreshing.
The sister wine, made from Semillon, has lovely aromatics jumping out of the glass: lemon peel, lime juice, basil and salt. Lively palate with a hint of pyrazine adding a bit of “zing”. Lovely freshness and a bit of texture. Crushingly good.
The Mother Rock range is generally more concentrated and complex than the Force Celeste wines. The White – a blend of Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Grenache Blanc and Viognier – which is one of the greatest value wines in the Ex Animo portfolio.
The Kweperfontein and Liquid Skin, both from single vineyards of Chenin Blanc farmed by Franziska Wickens in the Siebritskloof valley on the Paardeberg. the Kweperfontein is a wholebunch pressed expression, whereas the Liquid Skin is destemmed and fermented on skins.
In the past Stompie has made single varietal reds under the Mother Rock label, but is now concentrating his efforts on the blend, called Holocene.
BRUTAL! is a label devised in 2010 by a group of wine professionals based on an ideal: “Vin Naturel was now too common, it was used by too many winemakers and people in general, that we need a ‘new wine’, something extra. Since everything that is cool, pretty and extraordinary is BRUTAL, we should call it Brutal.”
Alice Feiring explains:
“The wine had to be zero/zero, no input in the vineyard and none in the cellar. But the concept was far more complex than simply no added sulphur.” And there was more. Laureano tried to explain it to me as best he could, “The wine should be bottled with some sort of technical fault. But that fault is part of the wine’s beauty and should get better as time goes on.”
So to untangle his meaning, the wine should have some sort of technical flaw by conventional standards, yet in the end it would become part of the wine’s beauty. “Most importantly,” Laureano added, “anyone in the world could request and be given the label. It was for the world to use, but only if they made a wine from the heart.”
Stompie’s BRUTAL! changes slightly every year, but is usually a Chenin Blanc – an exciting, electric wine that is not for the feint-hearted or cautious wine lover.
The wines of Mother Rock are often primal and raw in the best sense. Offering delicious transparency of terroir and grape. Sometimes cloudy, but always exciting and visceral, they are in the leading pack of the South African avant-garde.