Picking away

Only a few months ago I was complaining that one excellent vintage after another in Stellenbosch was getting a bit boring. Not enough real challenges from a winemaking point of view? Well that certainly changed, and how!

The wind damage at the end of November certainly took its toll on production in our valley. We ended up being down about 30%, while our neighbours at Keermont, were down about 60%. On top of this we had intermittent rain throughout the harvest, which made deciding when to harvest difficult. This was compounded by the significantly lower yields, together with the foliage damage affecting some of the ripening. Looking back on the season though I think we got most of our harvest times spot on and our decision to give slightly gentler extraction will hopefully also be correct.

It is still premature to judge while the wines undergo malo lactic fermentation in barrel, but it seems that the Shiraz in particular, is rather harder than usual. Probably due to the Shiraz leaves being a lot thinner and more fragile than Cabernet, Merlot and Chenin. The Shiraz sites for both our ‘393’ and ‘Blueprint’ are also more exposed to the wind.

The Merlot seems to be the star of the vintage, thriving in the cooler, wetter conditions with a lovely plush texture and dense fruit. The small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon also looks promising, though at this stage shows a little more greenness than usual. We’ll certainly have to give some careful thought to blending and elevage over the next year or so to get the best out of the vintage.


Hector at work

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