RAZVAN MACICI - NEDERBURG CELLAR MASTER
Since taking over as cellarmaster of Nederburg in 2001, Razvan Macici has shown a remarkable versatility in building both the reputation and portfolio of the Paarl winery. He has proved equally adept at making red, white and dessert wines for which Nederburg had become especially well-known under Günter Brözel, and he has continued to win kudos for wines across the range, from accessibly styled, popular offerings to those targeting connoisseurs.
His conversancy with sweet wines owes much to family tradition. He grew up in the vineyards of Dealu Mare, about 70 km from Bucharest. His father, Mihai, a prominent Romanian winemaker, made his award-winning name with noble late harvest wines on the famous Pietroasa Estate in the area. This was also the winery where Razvan cut his teeth after graduating as a winemaker. It provided the foundation for his next step, which was to gain wider experience in Western Europe before moving to South Africa in 1997 to make white wines for Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery.
“When Romanians hear the name Macici, they immediately think of my father. He is synonymous with noble late harvest wines. Botrytis wines were the first I learned to understand and that I aspired to make, but I also always knew they would be the wines by which I would be measured. Then, coming to Nederburg, they loomed large on the horizon once again with Gűnter Brözel having built an inestimable reputation for first Edelkeur, then Eminence and other noble late harvest wines. I suppose you could say they have been the leitmotif of my career.”
He even created what may be the world’s first noble late harvest sparkling wine and learned in July that Nederburg’s 2007 Eminence had been rated one of the top ten wines in the 2009 Muscats du Monde, to earn yet another gold medal on this annual event. However, he has given as much focus to other wines in the Nederburg portfolio, working closely with the viticultural team responsible for the vineyards from which its wines are sourced, whether from Gansbaai, Darling, Durbanville, Philadelphia, Simondium, or Paarl. While raising Nederburg’s Edelkeur, then Eminence and other noble late harvest wines. I suppose you could say they have been the leitmotif of my career.”
He even created what may be the world’s first noble late harvest sparkling wine and learned in July that Nederburg’s 2007 Eminence had been rated one of the top ten wines in the 2009 Muscats du Monde, to earn yet another gold medal on this annual event.
However, he has given as much focus to other wines in the Nederburg portfolio, working closely with the viticultural team responsible for the vineyards from which its wines are sourced, whether from Gansbaai, Darling, Durbanville, Philadelphia, Simondium, or Paarl. While raising Nederburg’s profile with Shiraz and Sauvignon blanc in particular, he is equally excited by the potential of Carignan and Grenache recently established at Nederburg itself.
They form part of an initiative to experiment with Mediterranean varietals and include Malbec, Mourvèdre, Tannat, Tempranillo and Verdelho as the winery addresses a more adventurous market as well as the need to prepare for the impact of climate change. He experiments widely with wood and was also responsible for introducing Eastern European oak to the cellars, while returning to larger oak for some wine styles in a bid to impart a subtler wood influence.
Following the success with single-vineyard Sauvignon blanc wines, sold exclusively on the Nederburg Auction, as well as with the cellar’s other expressions of the varietal across the multi-tiered range, he has been fermenting Sauvignon blanc in small, top-of-the-range French wood in preparation for an exclusive new release.
Under his leadership, the winery has expanded production to accommodate over 20 000 tons of grapes a year, focusing simultaneously on popular and specialist, micro-vinified wines. While meet a growing domestic and off-shore demand for Nederburg’s everyday wines, he has augmented the range with Manor House, a hand-made ensemble of varietal wines, as well as the small-edition Ingenuity blended wines accented on innovation. The Ingenuity Red, for example, was the first local blend to bring together three Italian varietals, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera, while the eight-way Ingenuity White is believed to be the first of its kind.
For the second consecutive year, in 2009 Nederburg was voted the most successful producer on the highly prestigious Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, winning three trophies, a gold, seven silver medals and a total of 21 accolades in all. Nederburg also achieved the highest score in the 2009 Syrah du Monde for the 2006 vintage of the Private Bin R121 Shiraz, made for sale exclusively on the Nederburg Auction. The wine was one of only two from South Africa on the top ten list, dominated by the French. Shiraz has won for Nederburg the 2008 Lexus WINE Challenge and the 2007 Rosemount trophy for the world’s best expression of the varietal on the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
A Nederburg wine was chosen as the best worldwide in the Syrah du Monde event held in Ampius, France, in 2009, while another wine from the cellar was amongst the top ten in the 2009 Muscats du Monde. Both are wines made for sale on the Nederburg Auction.
Two wines have been awarded a five-star rating in the 2010 edition of the Platter’s South African Wine guide. They are the 2008 vintages of Nederburg’s Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest, as well as the Ingenuity White, a blend from eight varietals.
At the same time as the accolades mount, Nederburg consistently ranks as one of the foremost South African retailed brands in terms of sales across the premium to super-premium spectrum. Nederburg Baronne, for example is frequently South Africa’s top-selling red 750 ml blend within its price category.
The brand has been growing exports, not only in traditional European markets and in the US, but further afield, from Angola to Brazil, from China to New Zealand.
Macici’s decision to move to South Africa followed a harvest he worked here in 1994, when the country became a democracy. Three years later, he was offered a full-time position making white wines for Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery. His success earmarked him for the position at Nederburg that was seeking to reclaim its status as one of the country’s leading names in wine.
Macici, who is married to a South African, has a Masters in viticulture and oenology from the University of IASI-Romania.