Neleen tells us how she got into the hospitality industry by stealing her father’s Pinotage as a child. She stays true to her South African roots in London by also stocking De Toren Fusion V that blew her away back in Johannesburg.

Can you give me a short background on yourself, where you have worked and how you got into the industry?

Is it wrong to say I got into the industry by stealing my dad’s Lanzerac Pinotage’ 73 as a kid?! Much later I managed Browns Restaurant in Johannesburg and created the wine cellar there- a lot of fun-and realised I have so much to learn and taste.

Tell us where you work now and a little bit about the restaurant?

High Timber is tucked away on Paul’s Walk (the City side of the River Thames) in London’s Square Mile. We have a fantastic core of good regular customers, great staff and not too shabby business partners in the form of Gary and Kathy Jordan.

What do you love most about your job?

Meeting new people, new wines and new food.

How and where did you get introduced to De Toren?

In Jo’burg, and the 1999 Fusion V blew me away. It’s been easy to sell ever since, and remain one of my favourite South African blends.

What analogy do you use to describe the relationship between food and wine?

Balance. Simplicity.

What is your favourite dish to pair with De Toren Wines? Why do the flavours work so well together?

Lamb Wellington. Mircel’s (chef) use of a little bit of truffle, wild mushrooms, thyme and shallots were made for the Fusion V.

Why are you such a fan of De Toren wines?

Consistency. And the wonderful way the wines develop with age. And have to add here that it is Carlos’, one of my managers here, favourite SA red.

Do you have any preference for New World versus Old World wines?

No. Both worlds do fabulous wines, and London is arguably the city in the world that has the best of both worlds when it comes to wine.