At a lunch held at Salsify restaurant at The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, we were introduced to The Mentors series of wine. 10 of which, recently achieved a score of 90+ by the acclaimed British Master of Wine, Tim Atkin. A notable event for any winery and wine producer in the world.

The news is even more sensational once one learns that The Mentors is produced and enabled by KWV, the South African wine conglomerate with the largest cellar in the Southern hemisphere, situated in the heart of Paarl.

With being the size it is, over many years KWV is known for tutoring and nurturing young and trainee wine makers. Not only by teaching them the practice but also for allowing apprentices to experiment with new, out of the box, ideas for delivering commercial wines.

The Mentors cellar, a small reserve in the 24 hectares cellar, was the place to experiment with different coopers and winemaking techniques, to discover the best ways to work with new cultivars, or to try new yeasts and perfect natural ferments.

The insights from this unique cellar, often home to post-graduate oenology students trialing pioneering new winemaking methods, were initially put to use in KWV’s extensive range of wines. But the winemaking team soon realised that the boundary-breaking approach in The Mentors cellar was leading to remarkable terroir-driven wines that deserved their own spotlight. Though the first wines were bottled in 2006, it was in 2009 that The Mentors range took flight.

Combined with the already existing approach of planting the right variety in a specific geographic location to get the best possible grape of the land, they have managed to bind a group of niche verities from what is exceptional in a specific year.

All fermented in wood barrels and nurtured by a dedicated wine maker, creating iconic wines. White wines are going into older barrels so the wood won’t overpower the taste of the wine.

Moreover, The Mentors winemaker, Izele van Blerk, happily shares that the way of coming to light of these wines is so boundary and traditional rule breaking that it is a miracle she still holds her position in a big, corporate winery.

The Mentors is a journey through the handpicked vines and plots from all over the Cape Winelands. It is made possible because farmers call the winery’s viticulturist to come and check when they grow something that is worth the brand. From the land it is picked, refined and elevated to meet its best potential.

The Mentors portfolio consists of eight permanent wines- Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Orchestra and Canvas. Van Blerk and the winemaking team have the enviable freedom of pursuing innovative new varietals and blends from every harvest. Each year they take their cue from the vineyards of the Cape winelands, in deciding which wines deserve a space in The Mentors cellar.

It is all about what the land thought us over centuries of wine making.

The range is mostly available on-line and at the KWV Wine Emporium that is situated at Kohler Street, Paarl. For more information call 021 8073007/8 or visit the website