A chat with Richard Duckitt, our red wine maker.
What was the defining moment in your life that set you on the path of becoming a winemaker?
I would say it was a combination of moments that put me on the right track. From growing up on a farm, stooking witblits at school, and a personality that loves experimenting and tasting, winemaking was just a natural path for me to follow.
You work with a selection of some of the world’s most noble grape varieties. Is there one other variety with which you would really like to work?
One of the great things about Boschendal is that we get to work with so many different varietals, but I would still love to experiment or “play” with Tempranillo, Barbera and Nebbiolo. I find the wines very exciting.
Is there another wine you would like to make in your cellar with the varieties available to you?
We have been producing small lots of Petit Verdot; Malbec and Cabernet Franc for years, but I feel that the wine is always so amazing and some of the best in the cellar. I would like to explore the possibility of bottling these on their own, or to form the basis of certain small but special blends.
You seem to be quite innovative with new wine styles – what leads you there?
I love trying new things and the possibility of tasting and creating is a big driver in my life. I have high standards and I think all this is a good recipe for new ideas.
If you could choose anywhere in the world to make wine other than where you are now, where would it be?
I found Sonoma, California a very exciting place to live and work, and the terroir is excellent and quite similar to what we have here. On the other hand, I love the old traditions of Spain and Italy and where wine is in the blood. It will be a very difficult choice and thankfully one I don’t have to make.
And what grape type would you use?
Definitely the Californian Cabernet Sauvignon’s, but in Spain or Italy it would most likely be Tempranillo, Barbera and Nebbiolo. I would however experiment with the hundreds of native varieties just because it’s there and I can.
I know it is a bit tricky asking a father to choose his favourite child, but which one of your wines is your current favourite?
I am glad that you said ´current´ because my preference does change a lot depending on what mood I am in. My current wine of choice is probably the 1685 Shiraz / Mourvedre
Do you enjoy cooking to show your wines off at their best or do you leave that to others?
I do love cooking, but I don’t use it to show off my wine. We always open one or a few bottles, and thoroughly discuss and enjoy.
What is your favourite style of food?
I suppose anything authentic, but I also love improvising. Every now and again my wife will say, “there is nothing to make for dinner”, this is when I jump to the challenge and use the opportunity to cook up something from scratch with mix and match ingredients. These are often my best.
What is on your bedside table as reading matter at the moment?
I do read a lot, but right now believe it or not its “Snakes and snakebites of Southern Africa”. It’s a book my wife bought for me and is very interesting.
Richard grew up on a farm in the Darling district and wine has always been a passion. He pursued this passion and graduated from Elsenburg College in Stellenbosch with a Diploma in Viticulture and Cellar Technology.
He spent his first harvest at Muratie wine estate in Stellenbosch, and has since completed two harvests in California and one in Bordeaux. Richard was a winemaker at Franschhoek Vineyards before joining the Boschendal team in May 2015.