UPPER HEMEL-EN-AARDE VALLEY, South Africa
Over a decade of farming these vineyards have guided us in terms of their individual strengths and limitations. The younger vines are from vineyards that could in time provide the best quality of all, however at this stage they are more preoccupied with a flirtatious, fruit assertive character with more complexity to come. The vineyards on the lower slopes grow with a little more vigour as their accessibility to water and nutrients in the soil becomes easier. Depth of flavour accumulates as you move up the slope with the decomposed Granite based soils playing the common thread between all the vineyards.
The main vineyard contingent to this wine lies mostly on the south-facing, mid slopes, but includes lower parcels from the northern slope, in the porphyritic Granite soils of the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. This appellation ranges from 4 to 8 km in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The climate is cool and temperate, where parallel mountain ranges channel the southerly oceangoing winds through the appellation during the summer. These southerly winds in turn create regular sea mists and overcast conditions, moderating the temperatures in the valley. The annual rainfall is 850mm, with 50% falling in the winter months (May – August).
SOIL : Decomposed granite over red clay subsoil.
ASPECT : South-East, South-West & North facing. Slopes of 10-12%
TRELISSING : 7-wire Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP) with movable wires.
PRUNING : Cordon and Double Guyot
AGE OF VINES : 10 – 16 years
VINES PER Ha : 3333 – 6800
AVERAGE YIELD : 5.0 – 7.5 tons/ha (32 – 48 hl/ha).
A proper Cape winter preceded the growing season with substantial rains starting in June, occurring regularly to the end of August. The vines budded early in middle August for the second year in a row, followed by steadily increasing temperature and high humidity in September. The conditions initiated some early infections of oïdium and downy mildew in places, which remained a continual threat throughout the growing season. The real heat hit just before the new year and continued unabated until the first week of March, resulting in one of the warmest years on record. Unlike other parts of the Western Cape, water stress was not a major factor. The vineyards were harvested by hand between 26 January and 10 February 2016.
The grapes are packed in to large-surface area crates to limit pressure on the bunches. The day’s harvest is cooled down overnight to 8ºC in the winery’s refrigerated cold room. The bunches are sorted on a conveyor, destemmed, and fall directly to the fermenter. Some parcels also contain a discretionary percentage of whole bunches together with their stems. Cold maceration ensues for 4 to 6 days at 8 to 10°C. All parcels are fermented with indigenous yeasts, and only pigeage (punching down) applied for extraction. The wine spends approximately 15 days on the skins before pressing. After pressing the wine is racked and left to complete its malolactic ‘fermentation’ and maturation in barrel.
Matured for 11 months in 228L and 500L barrels produced in Burgundy and custom made for the various vineyards. Tighter grained oak is preferred for subtle flavour, with longer seasoning and slower, lower temperature toasting. New oak comprises 19%. The wine is racked to stainless steel tanks for another 6 months of élevage. No fining or filtration before bottling.
Alcohol by volume : 13.69 %
Total Acidity : 5.7g/l
pH : 3.53
Residual sugar : 2.5 g/l
BOTTLES PRODUCED : 14 260 x 750ml