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stirring the lees with james molesworth

David Finlayson Leaves South Africa's Glen Carlou

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: May 8, 2009 3:18pm ET

One item to file, and that clears off my desk just in time for my vacation: David Finlayson, head winemaker at Glen Carlou, has resigned his position there and will now focus solely on his own Finlayson Family label.

Finlayson is a third-generation winemaker who started working alongside his father (and Glen Carlou founder) Walter in 1989, before eventually taking over full time in 1996. Production at the Paarl-based Glen Carlou was around 6,500 cases when he started. Today the winery cranks out nearly 10 times that amount. (The winery was bought by Donald Hess in 2003.)

The decision is a mutual one and both sides are apparently parting on good terms. Donald Hess called David "a good man" when I spoke with him by phone this week; David had only good things to say about his tenure at GC in e-mail correspondance earlier this week. The move is a little surprising—Finlayson is still young (just 38) and Glen Carlou is among the most recognized properties on the Cape. But then again, as with former Rustenberg winemaker Adi Badenhorst’s move, I can see when the pull of your own small label outweighs working for someone else. Winemaker Arco Laarman, who had been working alongside Finlayson since 2000, will now take full responsibility for production at Glen Carlou.

Finlayson began his own label in the 2004 vintage, starting with 500 cases of Shiraz. He’s steadily built it up to 7,000 cases, with the portfolio now also including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Banc, Cabernet Sauvignon and more.

The 2009 harvest is just about complete in South Africa and all early indications are it’s a strong one. I’ll provide my usual Southern Hemisphere harvest reports (for Chile, Argentina and South Africa) in the coming weeks.

My immediate future, however, lies on the golf course: It’s time for my annual buddies trip to Myrtle Beach where I’ll be cranking out six rounds in four days' time. Or maybe I can get in seven rounds? It’ll just depend on how my back holds up.

So until I get back, keep drinking the good stuff.

Merlin
Zurich, Switzerland —  May 10, 2009 4:21pm ET
James completely off topic: I am in the habit of giving close friends a bottle of their birthyear wine on special birthdays. I have been trying to procure a bottle of 1969, a vintage which everywhere except for the rhone valley has been terrible. So far I found a bottle of clos de l'oratoire des papes 1969, and a bottle of the same year's CdP by L¿ F¿ud, as far as I know the grandfather of the founder of the domaine du Pegau. I found one tasting note of de clos de l'oratoire saying it's still drinkable, but in general reviews of 1969 are rare. Any other suggestions of what I should look for? Thanks, Merlin
James Molesworth
May 10, 2009 9:05pm ET
Merlin: As far as i know, it's a solid but not spectacular year. Some wines might be hanging around, but I'm not aware of any classic CdPs from '69...buyer beware.

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