The 2013 growing season was full of surprises. We had gale force winds, heat spikes and loads of rain during harvest. “Wow! Talk about challenging conditions for making wine.” Says Nic van Aarde, head winemaker. The Pinotage ripened in the second and third week of February at the same time as the Cab. We had some long days and late nights to try and get harvested at optimal ripeness. The Old Bush Vine block showed its characteristic cedar wood and red cherry characters providing great blending component’s for our Three Cape Ladies blend. Our Shiraz vineyard was one of the last parcels to come in for the season. This 17 year old block has produced a very dark and spicy wine with liquorice and black pepper hints. Another great component for the Three Cape Ladies. Cabernet Sauvignon showed the most promise in this unusual season. Late rain during harvest helped to supplement dry land vineyards with much needed moisture. This led to slow ripening and phenolic ripeness at low sugars. Translating into less vegetal aromas and riper berry character’s with the bonus of lower alcohols.
2013 was not a recipe year for making wine. We were challenged by Mother Nature and the Warwick viticulturist Ronald, as well as Nic, the winemaker had to think out of the box. “After tasting the wines I think we have come out tops and that 2013 will be a year to remember.”
The Pinotage vineyard ripened slightly earlier than normal due to an early February 2013 heat wave that accelerated ripening. The judicious use of irrigation helped the vines not to stress over this period. The grapes were picked in the early morning and cold settled for three days before being inoculated with yeast. The cap was worked very lightly and 2 rack-and -returns where done. The tank was pressed at 5 Brix when the winemaker felt there was enough extraction and the fruit profile was leaning toward the blackberry spectrum. The Shiraz came in 2 weeks later. A 5 day cold soak was done with a slow wild yeast fermentation bringing out the profound spicy character of this old vineyard. Punch downs where done 3 times a day with a single wetting of the cap close to dryness. No post maceration was done and the skins where pressed lightly and Malolactic fermentation was done in tank. The Cabernet Sauvignon was cold soaked for 7 days and inoculated. A warm short fermentation was done with a post maceration of 1 week on the skins. This polymerised the tannins and gave way to a powerful wine with notes of forest floor, herbs and plum. All the components where aged separately in French oak barrel for 18 months and meticulously blended by our winemaking team before bottling. The Pinotage component increased significantly in 2013 and this was the strongest blending component in the wine. The Shiraz component stayed constant and the Cabernet Sauvignon component was less than previous years giving the structural support to this juicy Cape Blend.
The wine had 24 months in 225l French oak barrels of which 22% was new oak, 9% was 2nd fill, 21% was 3rd fill, 48% was 4th fill. This allows the fruit of the wine to be the hero without the oak creating a dominance. The older barrels allow micro-oxygenation in the wine without adding any oak flavour
This is a wine that is perfect to drink young while the plums are jumping out of the glass and the spice is at stratospheric levels, but if you age it, the savouriness will start to make the fruit more subtle, and a well worn leather chesterfield, stained with licorice will emerge. It can easily age for up to 10 years, if you are patient enough to wait.