It’s Really all about the Vineyards

Circle of Life tells the story of Waterkloof: A once conventionally farmed vineyard with great potential, that -since Paul Boutinot took over the property- has been transformed into a living, breathing organic and biodynamic vineyard by Farm Manager Christiaan Loots and his team.

At Waterkloof we strive to produce balanced, characterful grapes by adhering to traditional organic and biodynamic methods. Chickens, sheep and work-horses all play their own unique role in the vineyards. Our soils are free of chemicals and are kept healthy by using plant extracts, fungi and bacteria from our own organic compost. We do not fight nature, we harness it.

Our focus has always been to get a better understanding of Waterkloof and the individual characters of its vineyard blocks. The Circumstance range allows these individual blocks and varietals to be expressed. Conversely, our objective with Circle of Life has been to produce two blends that encapsulate all the varying terroir characteristics and grape varietals found on Waterkloof. Thus, rather than being constrained by a traditional blending style, for example a Bordeaux or Rhône blend, we have instead produced two wines that are not driven by varietal, nor a specific parcel of the vineyard. Instead they are a true reflection of the totality, philosophy and specificity of Waterkloof.

A Gentle Hand

We mainly rely on tasting, to determine the optimum flavour development of the grapes. Bunches are picked early in the mornings, when they are still cool, which helps to preserve the flavours. Extracting juice from the grapes is achieved through whole-bunch pressing. This is the most delicate way to extract the juice.

After a settling period of 24 hours, a large proportion of the juice was destined for co-fermentation. We determined a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc prior to fermentation which went into old 600 litre barrels. Ultimately, this allowed for a better integrated and more complete end product. After a very long, natural yeast fermentation of six months, the wine was left on the primary lees for an extended period before bottling. This helped to add more complexity and weight to the palate. The wine was then racked to fermentation tank and the final blend was made up, with the addition of extra Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. The wine then undergoes an extended period of ageing in bottle before release. We produce the wine as naturally as possible, with no additions of acids or enzymes allowed. The final blend was 72% Sauvignon Blanc and 28% Chenin Blanc.

And a Few Prayers to Mother Nature: The 2014/15 Growing Season

The Stellenbosch area experienced a good winter with sufficient rain to fill the dams and provide enough cold units in July to have the vines in full dormancy. From August the temperatures started to rise slowly and spring arrived early with flowering occurring under ideal conditions. This ensured even ripeness, which contributed to excellent grape quality. We experienced slightly windy conditions during this stage, which led to looser bunches and helped to attain lower yields and more concentration.

Rainfall fell off dramatically from September with warm, dry weather and less strong wind than usual. Throughout the growing season, temperatures remained moderate, with intermittent hot days. Veraison started about 2 weeks earlier than usual.
For the rest of the growing season we saw little rain which resulted in very low disease pressure. Even though the days were warm, we noticed that the evenings cooled down very nicely.

The 2015 harvest was the earliest to date at Waterkloof. We started picking around 2 weeks earlier than usual due to the early spring but hang time was sufficient to allow phenolic ripeness. The quality of the fruit was exceptional; low pH, high acidity and clean fruit with little to no rot.

A Tasting Note from the Glass of Nadia Barnard

The Sauvignon Blanc aromas are prominent on the nose, with beautiful lime and prickly pear notes showing off. Intense flavours, with great balance. A tight mineral core and creamy mid palate from the Chenin Blanc allows for great complexity and a persistent finish. The Sauvignon Blanc lends lovely, fresh acidity to the wine.

The Numbers (34 000 Bottles Produced)

Alc: 13.5%
RS: 2.8 g/l
TA: 5 g/l
pH: 3.3