Four years after first venturing into uncharted waters with his own wine brand Laarman Wines, acclaimed independent winemaker Arco Laarman still personally collects his grapes from Vermaaklikheid, a small town on the Cape South Coast near Witsand, 300 km from Cape Town.
“Driving the cherished grapes home at 80km/h reminds me of the day my wife Madeleine and I took our daughter Zaria home from hospital for the first time,” says Laarman, who spent two decades at one of the Cape’s leading wineries before embarking on his own in 2017.
Laarman’s dedication has been well rewarded. Under his own label, his previous vintages of Cluster and Focal Point collections were met with great acclaim, earning him a Diners Club Winemaker of the Year nomination in 2018.
His innate curiosity means Laarman is always exploring new horizons. A true reflection is his decision as a 12-year-old (from Kosmos at the Hartebeespoort Dam near Pretoria) to become a winemaker after a holiday visit to the Cape! On his remarkable journey to a successful winemaking career, Laarman tested the wine industry waters through an internship at Kaapzicht in the Bottelary Hills alongside the legendary Danie Steytler, and worked harvests abroad in Australia, France and the United States.
Laarman spent almost two decades at the Paarl estate, Glen Carlou, first assisting David Finlayson, then as cellarmaster for over a decade. Here Laarman was instrumental in cementing a reputation as one of South Africa’s leading wine producers.
“Chardonnay is in my blood because of my time at Glen Carlou,” explains Laarman, “and since I prefer cooler climates myself, I thought it best to move closer to the true home of chardonnay and its possibilities on the Cape South Coast”.
Since 2020, Laarman and his family call the sea-side town of Onrus home. From here he runs his highly respected wine venture. This entails cherry-picking grapes from different regions, creating award-winning site-specific wines and masterfully crafting it into true expression from that terroir.
Two of Laarman’s highly anticipated new releases form part of his premium range of terroir-driven wines, the Focal Point Chardonnay and the Focal Point Cinsault, both from the 2019 vintage.
Both the Focal Point Chardonnay 2019 and the Focal Point Cinsault 2019 achieved 91 points in the recently released Tim Atkin MW South Africa Special Report 2021. Furthermore, the Focal Point Cinsault 2019 was recently awarded a silver award at the 2021 Old Mutual Trophy Show.
“The Focal Point range shines the light on unique vineyards,” says Laarman. “Site-specific wines are clearly rooted in a place and time.”
The striking label design reflects the 11 influences Laarman brings together – from varietal to viticulture, topography to fermentation techniques, and more – as well as the skill of the winemaker to harness these individual inputs and focus their energies on a single goal.
As a keen foodie who loves to entertain family and friends, Laarman suggests pairing the full-bodied Chardonnay with wholesome baked fish or crisp-skinned roast chicken, or with risotto and mushroom dishes.
The supremely elegant Cinsault (right) pairs well with Asian inspired foods that are not too overpowering, such as steamed chicken dim sum and pork spring rolls, and Morrocan influenced foods like lamb kofta and a beef tagine.
Laarman Wines recently joined Cape Site Specific as part of a collaboration of like-minded producers who share a common vision of creating wines from specific vineyard sites. These wines are available from selected outlets or the Cape Site Specific online shop (http://capesitespecific.co.za/).
For more information on the wines, stockists and distribution, visit www.laarmanwines.com, email email@example.com or call +27 (0) 835 461 146. Follow Arco Laarman on Twitter @ArcoWine or on Facebook or Instagram @LaarmanWines.
Recommended retail prices:
Focal Point Chardonnay 2019 – R295
Focal Point Cinsault 2019 – R205