You know a place is NEW when it doesn’t even show up on Google maps.
This is what we discovered, while motoring down the R45 in search of the launch event for Franschhoek’s latest addition to the wine scene, Paserene.
Fortunately, the directions we received were accurate and our fears allayed once we laid eyes upon the too-eye-catching-to-miss sign, welcoming us to the venue.
Immediately, it’s not what you expect from Franschhoek. To us, Franschhoek is synonymous with tradition. Think stately whitewashed houses and manicured lawns. Paserene breaks this mould. With a daring structure of glass, steel and wooden beams, modelled on the tunnels burrowed by swallows, there is nothing old-fashioned to look at here. That said, the simplicity and transparency of the design creates a classic, elegant feel, with plenty of space and light to take in the exquisite Simonsberg.
It was also our first time to try Paserene’s three wines, crafted by ‘swallow’ winemaker Martin Smith, who has split his winemaking career thus far mainly between California and on home soil, where he made wine at the renowned Vilafonté. When tasting the three wines – a Chardonnay and two red blends respectively called Union and Marathon, we swear we could almost taste the Californian precision, however with distinctly South African terroir.
According to Smith, while addressing the intimate media gathering, Paserene is first and foremost about unification – which is clear in the wines, labels, architecture and what is evidently a close friendship with his business partner Ndabe Mareda. In Mareda’s opinion, while searching the crowd for his two children (they were playing outside, uninterested in boring adult speeches), Paserene is all about family. If you ask us, both are a good place to start.
We look forward to seeing the impact that Paserene’s presence, philosophy and wines are going to have on the Franschhoek scene. After all, as for swallows, the only constant is change – and no better way to celebrate the fact than over a bottle or two of wine.