Shortly before Christmas Brent Bartlett and I popped up to visit Swartland Independent winemaker Roger Clayton. We met with Roger in his kitchen as he was labelling a few bottles for tasting.
Roger grew up in Scotland, spending his 20s in the Scots Dragoon Guards as a British Army officer and then his 30s working for the UN and EU in the Middle East and Afghanistan before starting several Risk Management and logistics companies in the region.
In 2007, He came back to South Africa on holiday and never left! Shortly after he met his wife, and together with their son they live in both Cape Town and the Swartland.
Having worked vintages in his youth in Australia, Germany and South Africa, he was captured by the spirit of the Swartland Independent Producers (SIP) and began making small quantities of garagiste wines with Dean Thompson (Dean David) in the Swartland in 2011.
For the 2011 and 12 vintage, they just made small quantities of Swartland Syrah, but in 2013 they also experimented with some Pinotage and Chenin Blanc.
He started making his first wines alone and he is now making small batch quantities of interesting varietals that suit the terroir of the various vineyards were he get his grapes from.
In 2013, he made a Swartland bush vine chardonnay and in 2014 he made an Elgin Chardonnay as well as several varietal blends that love the Swartland warmth – Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache.
After a visit to Portugal in late 2014, Roger was inspired by various winemakers in the Douro and the Dao and decided to experiment with some of the Portuguese varietals that are available in South Africa. With the 2016 vintage approaching, the excitement of ‘to blend’ or ‘not to blend’ barrels is almost upon us ahead of bottling.
Roger makes his wines at Antebellum cellars just outside Riebeek Kasteel. His aim is to make honest natural wines that his family and he will enjoy drinking for many years to come.”
Varietals by Vintage
2011 Dean David – 2mile2 – Swartland Syrah
2012 2mile2 – Swartland Syrah
2013 Jolly Roger – Bush vine Swartland Chardonnay
1mile2 – Pinotage
1mile2 – Chenin Blanc
2014 Jolly Roger – Elgin Chardonnay
Jolly Roger – Chenin Blanc
Jolly Roger – Syrah Grenache (Lunch)
Jolly Roger – SMG (Supper)
Jolly Roger – Pinotage (in barrel)
2mile2 – Swartland Syrah (in tank)
2015 All in barrel: