In the vineyard
The grapes were picked on the 1st February, early morning, with the first selection of bunches being conducted in the vineyards (any unripe, rotten or bird-damaged bunches were cut and dropped on the floor). Once the 20kg picking cases reached the cellar (1km away) they were loaded directly into the cooling room and brought down to about 12⁰C. The grapes were then sent along a sorting table, to remove anything that may have been missed by the vineyard pickers. The 2019 wine-making campaign resulted in excellent quality grapes being delivered to the cellar, but not all was plain-sailing!
The harvest started slightly later than the previous vintage, though finished earlier! As a result, a number of the different varieties ripened at around the same time, meaning processing everything within a shorter period of time, was quite challenging. Following 3 years of drought conditions in The Western Cape, the 2018/19 growing season saw rainfall return to average levels, with a cool, wet spring, followed by a windy, warm summer though no real heat-waves to speak of. Budding and flowering were a little uneven across the board, which resulted in quite a bit of crop-dropping around Christmas time, during Veraison (when the grapes change colour from green to yellow or red – depending on the varietal). Summer evening temperatures remained much cooler than during the day, so ripening became more even and gradual, resulting in really well-balanced grapes (sugar content Vs phenolic ripeness).
In the cellar
The bunches were hand-sorted on the conveyor-table, before being sent to the tank; whole-berries and without the stems. The grapes were left to cold-soak for about 4 days before a natural and spontaneous fermentation kicked in. Whole-berry fermentations tend to favour the fruit profiles of wine and tend to be less extracted. Every individual berry has its own micro-fermentation going on inside (carbonic fermentation) which adds to the complexity of the wine. Once the fermentation was complete the free run wine was drained into 225L French-oak barrels. The berries were pressed very lightly, with this portion of the wine providing the backbone or skeleton, on which to hang the fruit!
This wine is the most feminine of red wines and will be the perfect match for a rock-lobster braai or anything gamey (Bok carpaccio, cured meats, rabbit stew, tartare, pie or simply a fine piece of fillet). Though elegant, this wine is by no-means a light-weight; its depth of character will stand up to almost any dish and is so refreshing it can even be used a palate-cleaner for spicy foods. Magnifique!