Acclaimed Nederburg cellar master and 2012 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year finalist, Razvan Macici, honours his roots with a Christmas table that celebrates food and wine.
Since taking over as cellar master of Nederburg in 2001, the reputation of Romanian-born Razvan Macici has skyrocketed. Not only is he recognised from his stints on MasterChef South Africa, he has built a powerhouse portfolio of wines for the Paarl winery too. The hard work and talent have paid off, with Nederburg scooping three five-star ratings for three wines in Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2012 (the current record, shared with two other wineries).
Razvan was initiated to vines at a young age, growing up in the vineyards of Dealu Mare, about 70km from Bucharest in Romania. His father, Mihai, was a renowned winemaker particularly known for his noble late harvest wines at the famous Pietroasa Estate. Razvan followed in his footsteps at the winery, which gave him an excellent grounding for noble late harvest wines and created a benchmark for his future career. “Botrytis wines were the first wines I learned to understand and aspired to make, but I also always knew they would be the wines by which I would be measured,” he says. Razvan gained experience in Western Europe before moving to South Africa in 1997 to make white wines for what is now known as Distell. His talent for sweet wines has been essential at Nederburg, which has both a local and overseas reputation for wines like Edelkeur and Eminence.
With a history tracing back more than two centuries, the lunch will be held at Nederburg’s historic manor house, a national heritage site that Razvan feels mirrors the tradition and wholesomeness of Romanian culture. “It’s so cold in Romania over Christmas – the contrast of snow and really low temperatures against the cosiness and warmth of the interiors of our traditional homes makes for really great celebrations. Christmas in Romania is a huge family day. All the family gets together and Father Christmas entertains everyone with the handing out of gifts and good blessings.
Christmas songs, laughter and a lot of food complete the picture. Lunch usually runs into a late dinner with three to seven different dishes being served. Good food and wine, Romanian plum brandy, Tuica, and the fantastic smell of genuine pine trees… for me that signifies a real and true Christmas.” When it comes to food, Razvan says the Christmas dishes are always rich, warm and hearty. Romania is the only ‘Latin country’ in Eastern Europe, he says, reflected in its rich and diverse culture, history, food and wines. “There’s the food from the south, with its Greek and Turkish influences, and the fare from the Transylvanian plateau where the Hungarian, Austrian and German influences are strong,” he says.
To complement his dishes Razvan serves his recently released Heritage Heroes range, a handmade ensemble of four (pocket-friendly) wines individually named in honour of a personality who has played a major role in shaping the winery’s reputation. “I am intrigued by food and wine combinations,” he explains. “Common to all our wines is a combination of fruit vibrancy and finesse. They are made to be enjoyed with food and with friends. We also place huge emphasis on detail, from how we select vineyard sites, to the way we grow our wines and finally make them. We stay true to the values that have shaped the history of this great winery.”
By Ingrid Casson