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  Award-winning winemaker RJ Botha joins Kleine Zalze

18 Jan 2013

Topics: Bordeaux, Château Angélus, Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year, Johan Joubert, Kleine Zalze Wines, Nitida Cellars, RJ Botha, Stellenbosch University, wine

RJ Botha, ex-Nitida winemaker and 2010 Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year, has joined Stellenbosch winery Kleine Zalze.

RJ brings with him a wealth of experience. After his graduation from Stellenbosch University, he worked internships at Château Angélus in Bordeaux before returning to South Africa and eventually taking up the post of winemaker at Nitida Cellars in 2007. During his time there, he won many medals for his wines at local and international shows and events.

Kleine Zalze Wines cellarmaster Johan Joubert says: “We are very pleased with RJ’s appointment as his passion and belief in getting quality wines in the bottle matches ours and I think he will go the extra mile for Kleine Zalze.”

For RJ, moving to Kleine Zalze was a tough decision, but he is confident it is the right one. “Kleine Zalze consistently produces great wines and to be involved in such a dynamic and forward-thinking winery is a fantastic opportunity for me.”

His experience to date has been with a smaller, boutique operation compared to Kleine Zalze and he admits he has much to learn from working in a bigger winery and, in particular, with a winemaker like Johan Joubert. “Johan has set an incredibly high standard for Kleine Zalze and the performance of the wines bear testament to this.”

RJ’s attention-to-detail style of winemaking was one of the factors which led Johan to choose him out of the 102 candidates who applied for the position. “We have been lucky enough to enjoy a considerable amount of success across all levels, but we feel we can do even better,” Johan says. The intention is for him and RJ to have more time to focus on the premium brands, and the team they have put in place will allow them to develop their ideas for new wines, such as a premium white and red blend.

Johan believes they can ratchet the standards up even higher now that RJ has come on board. “What I like about RJ is that he is very much a perfectionist and highly driven to succeed.”

RJ has already taken part in blending some of the new releases and is looking forward to his first full harvest in 2013.

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