Wine Review: Waterkloof “Circle of Life” (2010)
By The Independent Wine Review
In 1993, UK based importer Paul Boutinot, set out on a search for a vineyard site with the potential to produce truly fine wine, with a true sense of origin. Classic old world areas such Burgundy, Bordeaux, Piedmonte and Veneto were either unattainable (far too expensive) or unavailable and so he had to search elsewhere. 10 years later, Paul found a small area within Schapenberg, overlooking False Bay, to the South of Cape Town in South Africa. Nestling beneath the Helderberg mountains, the site that was to become Waterkloof, is an ocean of crests and troughs which shelter the vines on the mainly south-facing slopes from the harsh and continuous southerly winds that frequent the area.
Despite (and actually as a result of) this harshness (which assists in keeping yields low and diseases down) Paul purchased the land just before the 2004 harvest and the vineyard was renamed Waterkloof in time for the 2005 vintage. Although, grapes had been planted in this spot since the 1970s, an extensive new planting and replanting programme was completed in 2008 and is beginning to bear its first fruits.
Wine maker Werner Engelbrecht follows a minimalist approach in order to extract the maximum sense of origin and varietal intensity from the grapes, with Waterkloof’s estate being both organic and biodynamic. Whereas many modern wineries use cultured yeast and enzymes to boost the speed of fermentation of wines, Werner and Waterkloof use only naturally occurring yeasts which sees the fermentation periods stretch to anything from a month to eleven months, under a “hands-off” regime which sees Werner monitor but not dictate what the wine is doing during its development.