“Respect what the vineyard hands you,” is Spier Cellar Master Frans Smit’s mantra. This passionate commitment for creating wines that are authentically and vividly expressive of their terroir has seen Frans amass an impressive list of awards both at home and abroad.
Under his guidance the Spier team earned six Double Golds and 9 Golds at the 2017 Veritas Awards, where the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2015 won the inaugural Veritas Vertex Award. The following year, Spier was named the 2018 South African Producer of the Year at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, where the Spier 21 Gables Sauvignon Blanc 2017 won the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy and the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016 won the Chenin Blanc Trophy.
A hands-on approach to winemaking sees Frans in the cellar most days tasting out of barrel and tank to check the development of the wines. Mid-palate weight is seen by Frans as the most important feature of a premium quality wine; while ability to age is a key prerequisite in the Frans K Smit, his eponymous flagship blend.
All is lost however without superior grape quality – this in turn depending on the caliber of the vines. Endless hours are spent in consultation with his team identifying and maintaining vineyards that consistently produce excellent yields.
“It all happens in the vineyard,” he says. “We carefully select the region and the growing blocks. There’s a deep reverence for what’s brought to the table in the harvest basket. This is the big thing: not tampering with natural process – but helping it along.”