We interview Nkululeko Mkhwanazi, brand ambassador in his home town of Johannesburg and Kwa-Zulu Natal for a number of wine brands including Creation Wines, Riedel and Reciprocal Wine Trading - a job that has earned him the moniker of 'Durban's Minister of Wine' - on how his wine story started.
1. When and how did your wine story start Nkulu?
My love for wine started in 2000 when our post matric class visited Rustenberg Wine Estate during a trip to Cape Town. Simon Barlow hosted us and took us on a vineyard and cellar tour of his farm before he presented wines. I studied at UCT and naturally joined the UCT Wine Society where I became Chairman in 2005. While in Cape Town I studied wine through Cape Wine Academy, starting off with The Introduction to Wine Course followed by the Certificate in Wine Course. In 2009 I completed my Diploma in Wine through Cape Wine Academy.
I currently represent the following brands in Johannesburg and Kwa-Zulu Natal, Creation Wines, Reciprocal Wine Trading Company and Riedel.
2. Other than your day job, where else do you live out your passion for wine?
In 2009 I founded the JHB Wine Series and 031 Wine Society which recently changed to Shamase Wine Club. This is a platform for wine lovers young and old to explore and taste unique local and international wines in a relaxed environment. Past guest presenters include Marilyn Cooper, Jean Philippe Colmant, Martin Meinert, Jeremy Borg and David John Bates to name a few. Look out for #ShamaseWineClub monthly tastings in Durban and Johannesburg. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @nkulu81 to stay updated on our events.
In 2011 I obtained a Certificate of Competence with distinction from the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy and I attended the Advanced Wine Judging Academy in 2014.
3. Can you single out some of your career highlights for us please?
In 2017 I made Team South Africa that competed at The World Tasting Championships in Burgundy France. I achieved this by coming 5th at The South African Wine Tasting Championships. Travelling to Burgundy for the World Tasting Championships was a highlight of 2017. On the same trip we also travelled to Champagne, Alsace the Mosel and Rheingau in Germany. My future wine destinations include Bordeaux and Rhone Valley (France), Rioja (Spain), Sicily and Piedmont (Italy), Central Otago (New Zealand) and Beeka Valley (Lebanon).
4. What has been some of your favourite wine festivals or tasting experiences?
Top of the list has to be the epic Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience, The Swartland Heritage Festival, The Pinot Noir Festival, Stellenbosch Cabernet and The Cape Winemakers Guild Showcase.
Getting up close and personal with Creation Chardonnay:
On the 20th December 2017 I had a wonderful opportunity to present a #ShamaseWineClub Creation Wine Chardonnay tasting. What made this tasting extra special was that it was vertical tasting (same wine just different vintages starting from 2012 to 2016). As a result this was a 1 bottle tasting, the wines we tasted were all sold out therefore only 13 wine lovers could attend this special tasting. Fortunately I had a few bottles of each vintage in my wine collection which I was more than happy to share.
"When it comes to wine, sharing is caring and there’s no greater joy than sharing a special bottle of wine with fellow wine lovers."
Back to “5 years of Creation Chardonnay”, this was a first of its kind in history of Creation Wines. There’s a perception that white wine doesn’t age and it needs to be consumed when young. I personally prefer to drink white wines that are 2 years and older. The oldest Chardonnay I had was a 1996 Clos de Ciel and the oldest Sauvignon Blanc was a Thelema 1992. Both wines were amazingly fresh and were in great shape with lively fruit. The Creation Chardonnay showed very well and it was unique to taste them next to each other. Each guest had 5 glasses with 2012 to 2016 from left to right. The colours of the different wines were very similar, pale, yellow and bright. The wines were gracious and so well integrated and drinking beautifully.
5. Tell us a bit more about yourself, what are your other interests?
I enjoy golf. I am a founding member of the #2 Putt Masters; I love art, gardening and running. I’ve completed numerous marathons since 2009 including eight Ultra’s, four Two Oceans, five Chatsworth Marathons and three Comrades Marathons. I hope to run the Medoc, New York, London, Dubai and Rome Marathon’s in future.
I am fanatical about sport! I support Liverpool, Orlando Pirates, Sharks, Proteas and the Springboks.