Q&A with winemaker Ben Snyman of award-winning Overhex Wines

Overhex Wines International had an impressive run at the South African Airways (SAA) Wine of the Year Awards in Cape Town in April. It took home the coveted Red Wine of the Year award, for its 2015 Survivor Offspring Red Blend, the SAA CEO’s Award for the Most Listings (nine) as well as the SAA Chairman’s Award for the Most Wine in Litres (105,344 litres). Winemaker Ben Snyman tells us about his passion for the craft and the influence travel has had on his award-winning palate.

What does winning the SAA Red Wine of the Year award mean to you personally and for your career?

Winning this award as a young winemaker is a tremendous honour and has inspired me to work even harder, to deliver world-class wine.

What is your favourite varietal?

I really enjoy a red blend that has Cabernet Sauvignon as part of it.

Which varietal would you love to work with?

I love working with Chenin Blanc because of how versatile the variety is – from dry to sweet, oaked and unoaked, all depending on the style that’s desired.

Which wine do you recommend (for immediate drinking and to store)?

Survivor Chenin Blanc 2016 – the vineyards lie in deep red soil, ensuring excellent water retention and adding structure and fullness to the wine. This wine is barrel-fermented and matured for four months in French oak but the wine is stylistically made to drink now or to be enjoyed later.

What are your plans for Overhex Wines?

Overhex Wines International is a major player in the wine industry, with innovative brands locally and internationally. I’m creating different styles with Overhex to open doors in different markets.

What’s the most interesting innovation in SA wine right now?

Incorporating more ethical associations in the wine industry, such as the Fairtrade initiative.

Who do you admire most in the local and international wine industry?

Michael Fridjhon is one of the most knowledgeable people I know in the industry. He has an impressive palate, and tastes on various local and international panels.

Which SA wine region is underrated?

The Swartland is one of the most underrated regions. It’s known for its low yields which delivers wine with concentration and minerality. Some of this region’s top-quality wines can’t be found abroad, and can be found only in local stores.

Are SA wines priced too low?

When the South African currency was weak, exports flourished, especially in the UK. With the rand now strengthening, South African wines are under pressure especially against price-competitive countries.

Are your travels based on your love of wine?

Yes, to the despair of my wife!

Your bucket-list wine destinations? 

Jerusalem and Slovenia.

What are your favourite destinations?

France and Italy, because they have good food and wine!

How has travel influenced your personal and professional career?

Being able to travel the world has given me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge in a personal and professional way to understand different cultures and preferences.

What travel advice can you offer wine-lovers?

Always check with the airline how much wine you can take with you (and bring back!).

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