Here’s a vinous story that embraces three continents, yet is firmly
rooted in the fertile soils of the Breede river valley. Lozärn wines,
handcrafted on Doornbosch farm, honour a family matriarch while
celebrating a red varietal whose very name evokes images of South
American castanets and sambas!
Join us in raising a glass of captivating Carménère for a toast to
the Smuts family who are nurturing this exotic cultivar far from its
adopted home. The grape is likely to be well-known to travellers
who have sampled the wines of Chile, where it was confused with
Merlot until, during the last decade of the 20th century, studies
proved that the vines were, indeed, Carménère, which had been
lost to Europe since the phylloxera outbreak in the 19th century.
In 2012, winemaker Salóme was enjoying a fine Chilean Carménère
with husband, Sybrand and a true friend. It was love at first sip,
which led to the planting of a Carménère vineyard two years later
on Doornbosch. This is – as far as they can ascertain – the first
single vineyard Carménère for South Africa. The wine bug had
bit, and the Chilean import was joined by several other Bordeaux
cultivars along with Sauvignon Blanc.
Time to unearth a little family history which forms a parallel tale
in the Lozärn story. In 1898 a daughter was born to Robert Müller
and Amy Sedgwick in Fish Hoek and was named Kathleen May.
Her maternal grandfather was Captain James Sedgwick, founder
of the famous Sedgwick’s Old Brown sherry enterprise. Kathleen’s
childhood was shared between Europe and South Africa, followed
by studies at a horticultural college in Warwickshire. The advent of
World War I saw her father serve in the German army, which led
to Kathleen, known as Kay, join her mother and sister in escaping
on a troop train to Switzerland where they settled in Lucerne. This
picturesque city soon found a special place in Kay’s heart.
At the age of 21 Kathleen May married Sebastian Smuts in Harare,
Zimbabwe. They ended up relocating to Somerset West. Here
Sebastian Smuts managed the vast Vergelegen. Kay’s urge to farm
herself saw them buying land in the Robertson valley in 1923,
naming it after her fond memories Lucerne; she farmed mainly with
ducks and chickens. Their only son Ivan Sedgwick Smuts took over
the farm eventually, planting vineyards and orchards. He and his
wife Dianne Beard had three sons, one of whom, Grant Smuts now
runs Lucerne along with his sons Juan-Ivan and Sean-Grant, the
Lozärn, the Swiss- German pronunciation of Lucerne, was chosen
as the wine brand, and labels are adorned with a skeletal image of
a duck. Granny Kay is also honoured with a fine Bordeaux-style red
blend named Kay’s Legacy.
The maiden vintages of the Lozärn range were released to an
appreciative public at the end of 2017. Success in the form of
gold from the Michelangelo contest for the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc
attests to quality and promises future success for this boutique
range, crafted by winemaker Salóme Buys-Vermeulen.
Flagship Kay’s Legacy 2016 is led by 53% Cabernet Sauvignon,
with 33% Merlot and Cabernet Franc making up the remainder.
Carménère 2016, is the unique red, and this grape is also used
to produce the 2017 Rosé. The alcohol levels have been kept
moderate with Carménère at 12,5% along with those of the Rosé
and the Sauvignon Blanc.
Winemaker Salóme, who marks her 10th year in the industry in
2018, is both passionate and dedicated to her work, describing
it as “sensory science”. She expresses her achievements like this:
“After a full circle of seasons in the vineyard… you get to bottle
your love and passion and share that vintage with others… Forever
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