Schalk Opperman: Quoin Rock’s new winemaker a man on a mission

Winemaker Schalk Opperman made the move to Quoin Rock, one of the best wine estates in Stellenbosch, in 2020. Nestled into the foothills of the Simonsberg mountain outside Stellenbosch, Quoin Rock Wine Estate was a natural choice for a winemaker of Opperman’s calibre. Opperman was drawn to Quoin Rock’s wine philosophy, infrastructure, resources and willingness to expand.

Opperman’s passion for wine started at school where he first began studying about “the nectar of the Gods”. He went on to obtain a BSc degree in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch at the end of 2005. 

His journey into wine took him through some of South Africa’s top producers and best wine farms. He also went further afield to California’s well-known Sonoma wine region and Bordeaux in France, where he further developed his passion for Bordeaux varieties

“The Simonsberg has always had a very special place in my heart,” he says. “As a student, my first job was at Muratie where I conducted wine tastings. Moving to one of the best vineyards in Stellenbosch that produces top-quality Bordeaux varietals is a big win for me.”

Opperman continues: “It is well-known that terroir plays a big role in winemaking, and the wines from this area are recognised worldwide, as was once again proved by the recent 96/100 score at the International Wine and Spirits Competition for the 2015 Quoin Rock Red Blend.”

“Also, the team is energetic and dynamic with a great passion and, like me, they want to achieve big things and continue to make this the best wine estate in Stellenbosch.”

One cannot make good wine from bad grapes, adds Opperman. High-quality grapes from the best vineyards enable the winemaker to create magic in the cellar. “That’s my mission,” he says. 

A red reaped from the best vineyards in Stellenbosch 

Regarding the 2015 Quoin Rock Red Blend, Opperman describes it as “mouth-watering”. “It’s a wine with complex layers of dark fruit, vanilla oak, cacao and a hint of pencil shavings typical of the cab variety. It’s a big, structured – yet velvety and elegant – palate that lingers on and on. A beautiful expression of new world upfront fruit and old-world elegance.” 

Only 12 South African wines were awarded gold at the 2020 International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC). The Quoin Rock Red Blend scored the highest in its class. The judging panel described it as a wine with a “delicate and focused nose with black fruits and floral notes. Concentrated and well-balanced palate with ripe tannins and nicely integrated oak. This is a plush yet elegant example which shows complexity and length.”

The 2015 Quoin Rock Red Blend is available only from the Tasting Room and online at R600 per bottle.